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Improving Operational Efficiency for SME’s During the Lockdown


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Over the past few weeks of the lockdown, we at Axis have been working tirelessly to improve our internal operations systems. Manufacturing facilities may be closed across the country but this lockdown has given us the time to work on projects with long term benefits. Our focus has been to make sure that we are improving everyday:

Open Communication with the Team:

From the day that the lockdown was instituted in India, we have been conducting weekly all-hands meetings where the entire team is present on a Microsoft Teams video call. The goal of these calls from the start has been to have open and clear communication with the entire team on the strategies and tactics on the way forward and to build team unity. By bringing the entire team into the inner circle of strategizing during a time of upheaval, team participation and buy-in has increased into improving operational efficiency. These weekly calls also present a great opportunity for different team members to talk about the work that they’ve been doing, thus building better bonds across various functional teams.

Data-Driven Process Mapping:

By using a data-driven approach to identifying bottlenecks in operational activities, we were able to identify the exact processes that would have the largest financial impact on the organization. Many processes in materials management, order processing, purchasing, and other departments were identified and during the lockdown, we used the extra time to have long conversations with the operations teams to brainstorm solutions to the bottlenecks.

Rewriting Standard Operating Procedures:

With the data gathered from the previous step, the operations teams had a unique opportunity to take time out of their order deliveries to work on rewriting their SOP’s. Right from the first interaction with clients to the final delivery of goods, every team has spent countless hours going through every step in the process to make sure that Axis is further optimised towards customer satisfaction once the lock down is finally complete.

Optimising SAP:

Going through the thousands of product codes is never an easy task but during this downtime, the product and manufacturing teams have had the time to upload missing drawings, update BOM’s, update process routings, find mistakes and overall just improve the entire SAP system for manufacturing. Other operations teams have been able to successfully utilise this time to improve their modules within the SAP system. Different teams have also used the time to get deeper training into the system, understand the interconnectedness between different modules, and thus make the organization more efficient.

Learning and Development:

At this stage, several weeks into the entire lockdown, everyone is talking about learning and development. Within our team, operational learning has included both internal and external training including SAP training, further logistics training, data visualisation and more. We also have various members who are learning new languages for the first time or taking various courses outside their usual job role to upgrade themselves. In the long run, we will reap the benefits of our team members upgrading themselves and their careers.

We are already seeing the benefits of some of our initiatives while others will deliver benefits in the long run. The increased digital literacy to use online tools such as Microsoft Teams and daily video calls with colleagues has vastly improved the connections between teams. This remote working model has also proved to us that even for a manufacturing firm such as ours, certain aspects of remote working can work even once everything is back to normal. In the long run, improved SOP’s and a more efficient SAP system will bring incalculable benefits to the firm and the customers that we serve.

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