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How an expert helps unlock growth

By Roy McFarlane

Getting an outside opinion helped one food company increase its sales by 10 per cent and diversify its risk profile in a highly competitive market.

The business had an opportunity. One of its main customers asked it to take over the manufacture of a high-demand product range. It was unhappy with its existing supplier.

But the production team said they could not handle the work. After a year, the general manager heard they had tried every way, but their business was not a good fit for the new range.

Her response was to challenge the narrative by asking an outside expert to review the position. While she was a non-technical leader, she needed to improve her profit position, and this deal looked perfect.

The engineering, project management and quality assurance teams were all experts. On paper, they had all the qualifications to solve this problem. So what was missing?

If a competitor could do it, why not us? she asked.

The consultant she found had relevant industry experience and offered both strategic guidance and the capability to switch on the production delivery when finding a solution.

The expert reviewed the situation and highlighted two issues with the development process:

  1. Tests relied upon existing production parameters.
  2. The prime ingredient for the new product would spoil within minutes if left uncontained, and the existing set-up required several hours of work in progress.

The reason for the slow progress was the team following established protocols incompatible with the new product and its expected growth trend.

The expert found the company had all of the operational ingredients to take the product to market. Once the process was defined, only minor procedural tweaks would be required. The focus should be on human resourcing.

The previous NPD work had not factored in the potential order volume or the core processing differences between current and new product ranges.

The expert advised the new product had to be managed as a separate self-contained sub-division of production, with four new shifts to accommodate 20 hours of production, seven days a week.

He was on hand to drive project implementation to meet a customer acceptance deadline of 16 weeks.

By separating the process flows for the new product from the old, the company reduced conflict for space and production resources.

Separating the process flows of the new line from the old products reduced conflict for space and production resources.

The ability of the expert to draw on the expertise in his network meant the technical challenges could be addressed in the available time. The new production process was up and running within a few weeks, allowing sufficient time for the shift teams to practise and perfect their procedures.

The general manager grew sales by 10 per cent with no new capital spend. The new account has a potential for 30 per cent growth a year moving forward. And it cost her 0.4 per cent of the new sales – or 0.08% of the supply contract value. That is a good investment!

Roy McFarlane | UK Business Advisors (

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