4M’s of Management III- Machine (Production and Product Management)

[This is the third part of the 4 part series on Business Management.]

Getting the right product that solves a genuine problem is very important because that is what you will be selling. Making a half hearted product will get you nowhere even if your marketing budgets are in millions. Remember Windows Vista?

Production is about using the right methods at all times and discovering the right ways as you move ahead. For example, lets looks at the Toyota way. Toyota by far is the most efficient car manufacturer. I was surprised to read recently that Toyota’s production system was made in a way such that all assembly lines can produce all types of cars. This defied the common belief that specialised assembly lines give you lower production cost.

With the growing use of software and automation in the production it has become quite easy to solve what otherwise was a tedious clerical task like sorting and searching the records.  But with this growing dependency its also important that you have the right softwares. Almost all your operations are software dependant. In fact whether a particualar task is allowed or not depends on whether the software accepts it. Software has become the business operating rules embedded permanently into a machine. So it is very important that right rules are embedded in the right machine.

The above point might sound like preaching but here’s a quick experience sharing. The portfolio page on ICICIDirect.com takes <1 sec to refresh, on HDFCSec.com it takes ~5 sec and on RelianceMoney.com takes >10secs. The same solution but different efficiency.

Here’s an exercise for you. If you own a consumer web product try deleting all your cookies and open your site. Try and register on the site as if you were a first time user. You will find a lot of scope for improvement just in your registration page. Try doing this every week and you will find something needs to be changed every time you do that. BTW, when was the last time you beta tested your product yourself ? When was the last time you called at your office reception from an unknown number?

A lot of steps that do not have instant tangible value will always be skipped by your production staff, so it is important to have quality check at every step. Its not really their fault, its just plain human nature. Again quality check at every step will only ensure that the end product is not a piece of junk that you need to re-do.

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[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He writes at The Inspire Blog]