Earlier this week I visited a friend of mine who is a commercial printer. With all of the new advancements in technology you might imagine that the life of a commercial printer are not simple these days. However, standing there and watching the giant printer spitting out, what seemed like, thousands of catalogs per minute I kept thinking that a business is like a big commercial printer. We have our inputs (paper) then the inputs pass through the machine and the output comes out the other side.
Usually in business, we refer to our output as what we ship out, our finished goods or services. But in this exercise, I like to think of output as cash or money. The purpose of a business, any business is not to generate work but to generate cash.
So my challenge to you, dear readers, and to me is to think about your business as a big commercial printer. What are the inputs, what happens in the middle, what is the rate of output, what is the maintenance or lubrication needed to keep it all going?
Below is a list:
- Inputs: Raw direct goods, labor, other supplies needed, marketing investment, sales
- Maintenance and lube: Administration, operations, accounting, IT and HR
- Output: Cash
The image below is a drawing of basic inputs and operational functions of a business:
It might be that every business can take a drawing similar to this and use the generic place holders in the drawing as operational functions and business inputs. From here you can develop operational directions for actual process improvements.