The Importance of Planning to a Manufacturing Business
Any business without effective plans and strategies to cope with its workload is one that is ultimately doomed to fail. To have an effective plan, you need effective people planning. This week we caught up with Clayton Glass’ talented Planning Supervisor, Claire Fox, to talk about why planning is of the highest importance to a business such as Clayton Glass.
“I plan to succeed, not fail.” States Claire, with the air of certainty one might possess when referring to grass being green, or when asking the rhetorical question of where a bear does its proverbial. Claire Fox is Clayton Glass’ Planning Supervisor. A role that has taken on greater and greater importance over the course of the company’s ascension to becoming one of the UK’s largest glass manufacturers.
As stated before, ineffective planning almost always leads to failure, in any walk of life. More often than not, you need to have a plan of well-outlined steps to achieve a goal. Whether it be the filling, production, despatch and delivery of a humungous glass order, or simply waking up at a certain time. Without your metaphorical early night, you will likely fail. Luckily for Clayton Glass, “failure” is not a word Claire Fox is all that familiar with.
An Unplanned route into Planning
Claire tells me that her Clayton Glass journey began with her working in Clayton’s renowned customer service department. “During this time, I built up an extensive knowledge of our products and our capabilities.” says Claire, “not to mention the positive relationships I’ve formed with our customers.” Claire believes that having this knowledge of the business gained through years of experience in a different role, has allowed her to be more effective in her current position as Planning Supervisor. “When this role became available, I saw it as an excellent opportunity to branch out on what I had already learned” Says Claire, thoughtfully.
“There is a juggle between keeping the customer happy and keeping production happy. I find that the best way to bridge this is with honesty.”Claire Fox
Reading between the lines, Claire suggests that this specific role is one that is tailor-made for an internal solution. The role of Planning Supervisor is one that requires a candidate with prior, extensive knowledge of how the business works, in order to hit the ground running.
Effective Planning and Successful Business: A ‘Blueprint for Growth’
This leads nicely into the point of how effective planning can contribute to successful business, in a general sense. “Well” Claire begins, “for any given project or task, having a good, clear strategy from the outset is important. It ensures that everyone in the process is working towards the same goal.” She continues, “Having these well-outlined plans and goals allows us to maximise operations, as wells as establishing agreements between production, the customer service manager and the customers themselves.” concludes Claire. At a fundamental level, Claire believes her role is about keeping everybody happy. “Through planning we can create a framework of what is going to work for each individual department, appeasing each by assigning manageable tasks.”
Claire goes on to tell me that in the long-term, planning can allow a company to develop a “blueprint for growth”. What Claire means by this is that if the people running the company can identify key areas where improvements can be made, then measurable parameters, such as productivity and customer satisfaction can be increased. If done consistently, over the longer term, with continuous analysis and feedback, a company can begin to grow.
Effective People + Effective Planning = Flow
This brings us to Claire’s favourite word in the Oxford English dictionary: ‘Flow’. “I get so much satisfaction seeing the work flow.” says Claire, “From the order coming in, sending it to the relevant department, seeing it pop up on the screen, and the completed order heading out the door without any hiccups, that is when my job is at it’s most enjoyable!” Claire goes on to tell me that she believes this ‘flow’ is all down to effective planning. Not just from herself, but from the company as a whole.
“Effective planning allows all areas of the business to flow well, planning is the glue that connects all the various departments, and keeps them working in unison.” Says Claire. “Specifically, at Clayton Glass we have people in positions who really do know their roles down to a T.” Claire continues, “Mistakes can happen, but rarely will that mistake get past all the relevant departments, and make it out the door. It gives you a lot of confidence because we all have a great trust in each other to perform our roles effectively.”
As mentioned previously, one facet of Claire’s role as Planning Supervisor is keeping multiple people happy simultaneously. It may come as no surprise that Claire thinks this is the most challenging aspect of the role. “Sometimes it can be a bit like being between a rock and a hard place so to speak.” begins Claire, “There is a juggle between keeping the customer happy and keeping production happy. I find that the best way to bridge this is with honesty.”
For any given project or task, having a good, clear strategy from the outset is important. It ensures that everyone in the process is working towards the same goal.Claire Fox
Claire expands on this point by telling me that if a customer asks for something that production will struggle with, then she will absolutely make this clear to the customer. Echoing the words of Joanne Honour, Clayton Glass’ Customer Service Manager, Claire says: “I will not make false promises.” This is a prime example of Claire’s framework in action, as it presents a strategy of customer honesty that is consistent across multiple departments.
When Christmas Comes Early
Turning attention away from her role at work, I ask Claire why she thinks it is important to plan in everyday life. “Anyone who knows me knows I am not good with surprises.” says Claire. “I love a structure of what, when and how, and that’s with everything, even down to Christmas presents! Everything that can be done is done well, well in advance.” This interviewer is not ashamed to admit that he did 100% of his Christmas shopping comfortably into December. Not Claire.
This interview took place in early November, and Claire tells me that she has all the presents for friends and family, including her three young children, wrapped and ready to go. Claire Fox is as good at planning and strategizing outside of work as she is in the office.
Conclusion: We Love it When a Plan Comes Together
In conclusion, it can be seen that Claire’s role as Planning Supervisor is one that is of vital importance to a company in the ilk of Clayton Glass. Over the years, Clayton Glass has become a multi-faceted, glass-manufacturing giant, now with sites in Durham, Huthwaite and Blackburn.
Companies and businesses will always need planning professionals. Not only to ensure the day-to-day running of a business model, but to create this long-term blue print for growth that ultimately determines whether a business will fly, or die. To borrow some words from Claire, at Clayton Glass we plan to succeed, not fail.
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