Over the years I’ve noticed those new to program management often find negotiating with customers challenging. So, in my February 2016 Circuits Assembly article, I highlighted strategies for improving negotiation outcomes.
It is important to understand the role of the program manager has two parts: First, a program manager is the face of the company to their customers. Second, the program manager is charged with keeping the program on track within the contractor’s business model. In some cases, this role may include managing profitability. In other cases, it is simply keeping program metrics in line with the contractor’s model.
The reality is that if the program doesn’t make a profit or becomes a nightmare that causes chaos in materials or the production area, that customer most likely will be disappointed. Addressing project issues early ultimately contributes to increased customer satisfaction, smoother production flow and greater program profitability. The article lists seven strategies to improve negotiations.
Strategic vs. tactical: which makes more sense?
EMS program management models can vary by provider or even by facility or program team. No one model is ideal for all account types. However, typically program managers can be divided into two groups: tactical and strategic. Tactical PMs focus more on day-to-day activities, while strategic PMs tend to take more of a leadership role relative to their accounts. While many organizations consciously make the decision as to whether their PMs should be tactical or strategic, in some cases it just evolves one way or the other. The downside to lack of defined program management focus is the lines of authority and responsibility can become blurred. In my December 2015 Circuits Assembly article, I looked at both models and discuss the drivers that make one or the other appropriate.
In my latest column in Circuits Assembly, I look at the challenges associated with establishing an operation in Mexico. The increased cost competitiveness of Mexico’s manufacturing, migration of automotive and aerospace clusters, and a lessening of the violence that has plagued the country for much of the last decade have incentivized a new wave of US-based regional manufacturers to look at the benefits of opening operations there as a the next step in their expansion plans.
That said, Mexico remains a country full of complexity when it comes to establishing a viable operation. There isn’t one right answer for best location or business structure. This month we look at some of the tradeoffs to consider when establishing a small operation in Mexico. Read more here.
If you are planning on attending SMTA International in Rosemont, Illinois mark your calendars for this Tuesday conference event that Mike Buetow from Circuits Assembly and I will be co-chairing:
Taking the Cost Out of EMS: Getting the Best Return for Lean Initiatives
Sept. 29, 2015
11 am – 12:30pm
In today’s world of variable demand and higher mix product, electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies need to be flexible and agile to respond to changing customer needs. At the same time, EMS companies also need to address efficiency and cost reduction in an environment characterized by razor thin margins. Does a more holistic approach to implementing Lean manufacturing philosophy hold the answers to best addressing these challenges? Join us as a regional EMS provider and supplier of manufacturing shop floor control solutions discuss how a Lean, yet agile EMS operation can be created by rethinking how customers, the supply chain, support functions and manufacturing operations work together in an interconnected Lean environment. Following the presentations, there will be a panel discussion with the audience focused on ways this type of holistic approach can eliminate the common constraints to effective Lean implementation found in the EMS environment.
- Lean Flow on the SMT Factory Floor
- Michael Ford, Mentor Graphics, Valor Division
- Applying Lean Philosophies to Supply Chain Management in EMS
- Wally Johnson, Firstronic
- Panel Discussion
For more information and to register, visit http://www.smta.org/smtai.
My Circuits Assembly article this month looks at the concepts of branding, marketing and selling. Like my recent Leader vs. Manager post, this is another area where words are used interchangeably to refer to very different concepts. Branding, Marketing and Selling looks at the ways these concepts interrelate and specific ways that electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers can capitalize on well thought out strategy in these areas. Read the full article here.
Medical Product Outsourcing just published a good article on EMS trends in the medical sector. Yes, I’m quoted, but more importantly Managing Editor Michael Barbella did a great job of looking at some interesting product trends.
My December 2014 Circuits Assembly article actually started out as a rant about a furniture store with a bad inventory tracking system. However, it turned out to be one of the most popular articles I’ve written in terms of comments generated. The bottom line is that it is never if you will disappoint a customer. Instead, it is how can you best resolve things when something goes wrong. This article looks at the right way and wrong way to handle things. And, yes, I did finally get the couch–it wasn’t the one I originally ordered but by the time it showed up in mid-December, it was one I was happy with and I felt that the salesperson was as invested as was in resolving the issue the right way because we had gone from a relationship of non-communication and disappointing surprises to one where she was calling me with shipping updates almost weekly.
Part of the reason I’ve been a little lax on my posting is that I’ve had a heavy travel schedule that included teaching segments of the IPC EMS Program Management Certification course as well as co-organizing a session at SMTAI on conflict minerals with Mike Buetow from Circuits Assembly.
My October Circuits Assembly column looks at ways to build a unified program management team and ensure that all program managers understand how best to do their jobs. Program management is truly the most difficult job in EMS and anything that reduces the learning curves of new program managers will generally save your company money.
Amazed at the number of views a recent blog post of mine (The Five Biggest Myths in Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) Sales and Marketing) received, I expanded on the topic in my August Circuits Assembly column:
EMS companies typically fit into one of three categories:
- Those that have excellent marketing and make every dollar count.
- Those that have a marketing budget and waste money without a clear plan.
- Those that depend entirely on the sales team for marketing.
Not surprisingly, the companies in the first category have the biggest budgets and likely get the best return on investment. Why? Because, like sales, marketing in EMS is a numbers game. People have to be exposed to a message five to seven times before they remember seeing it at all. Develop a marketing plan that schedules a series of activities promoting a consistent message over the course of a year, and your market will remember seeing it. Buy a single ad, book at the last minute at a local trade show, or post an occasional message on your LinkedIn page, and you’ll be in the crowd that complains marketing doesn’t work. Put the entire load on sales and you’ll have a frustrated, overworked team with marginal results.
Read the full article.