The best practices below include several of the topics we have explored in the article that are critical to a company's success in today's global market.
1. Stay in touch with customers, talk to them about their needs and look to them for new product ideas.
2. Differentiate products and services to better define and develop a competitive advantage.
3. Devote the necessary time and energy to marketing; develop a distinctive product and marketing strategy; expand and diversify your customer base.
4. Go global. Develop export markets.
5. Ensure that your activity-based cost system is helping your company contain cost increases, focus on which activities are consuming the most resources and highlight non-value added activities.
6. Look for a long-term relationship with a banker who is willing to take the time and effort to understand your company.
7. Invest at least 3 percent of your payroll in employee training; get involved with Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), government-sponsored training programs and local educational institutions such as community colleges that offer training in manufacturing skills.
8. Explore how experts from a Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center can help you with your business.
10. Develop a plan for management succession. Start estate planning early and continually keep abreast of estate tax laws and regulations.
11. Monitor your company's viability and competitiveness on a daily, weekly and monthly basis with a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) tailored to your company's particular business challenges.
12. Weigh both quantitative and qualitative factors in making capital investment decisions. Strike a balance between staying on top of technology and making investments you can't afford; no company has unlimited resources.
13. Constantly look for opportunities to delegate, to empower your employees at all levels and to create the corporate culture for a high-performance workplace.
14. Speak out to your government representatives at the federal, state and local levels.
15. Stay abreast of legislative, regulatory and policy developments through the general media, business publications, and industry, trade and professional organizations such as the NAM (www.nam.org.).
For a full-text PDF file of the report or more information, please visit www.rsmmcgladrey.com.
About the Author: Tom Murphy, is executive vice president of manufacturing and wholesale distribution at RSM McGladrey — the fifth largest accounting, tax and consulting firm in the United States. For more information, visit www.rsmmcgladrey.com.