What is Your Plan B?

June 28, 2010 Gary Ritkes

A recent Business Week article suggests Apple may be struggling to meet global demand for iPads because of difficulties its vendors face in producing the touch screen displays. When companies with as many resources as Apple face such challenges, the problem serves as a beacon for other businesses because success is tied to your company’s ability to acquire materials. Consequently, it is a good idea to develop a Plan B and regularly evaluate it to help you proactively address any challenges specific to your company. Processes involved in this review fall into three basic components:

Material Supply – These are the components needed for your company to do business. Even service industries have these concerns; materials need to be available – tools of the trade, vehicles, shipping services, and even basic office supplies. In addition to the companies with whom you have a relationship and already understand your specs, look for firms that have a proven record of consistent access to whatever resources you need.

Personnel – Employees are expensive and difficult to scale to temporary influxes that businesses experience. Outsourcing and contract labor is effective for individual projects, but the most plentiful and economical resource companies have is their existing staff. Cross training and knowledge transfer for your current employees provides the quickest ramp up of trained personnel when they are needed.

Knowledge – Each employee has lots of useful information and knowledge that help him or her do their job more effectively. The question then becomes: Who else knows that information? Training manuals, process documentation and diagrams, departmental responsibilities and contacts, and information relating to work performed in specific positions can be created and easily organized in a central location so that everyone knows where it is stored and has access to it.

At SproutLoud, we employ a comprehensive network of service providers to accommodate our clients’ needs. Our platform is capable of routing each of our production processes – including direct mail, promotional products, large format output, e-mail, printing, warehousing and fulfillment – to multiple providers specializing in each of these processes. Plan B doesn’t apply exclusively to our external production capabilities.

In addition to learning the new features and service enhancements on our newest 3.0 platform version, all employees are going through multi-departmental training and will participate in a knowledge base development program. This will give each employee a stronger understanding of the details involved in both our processes and clients, ultimately enabling SproutLoud to shift personnel into additional supporting roles when needed to help meet our client demands.

As part of our commitment to our clients, we are expected to meet all of their needs and deadlines, and Plan B is designed to, as always, exceed their expectations.

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About the Author

Gary Ritkes

Gary Ritkes oversees all Business Development and Marketing at SproutLoud. He has been a pioneer in the emerging vertical of Distributed Marketing Technology and is an industry leader and innovator with 20+ years experience in graphic communications and marketing strategy. Gary has been involved with SproutLoud since the inception of the company. Prior to joining SproutLoud, Gary was VP of Marketing for Rex Three, Inc., SproutLoud’s first and largest vendor among its network of providers. He has served many Fortune 1000 clients and worldwide advertising agencies in providing marketing technology direction and optimization. He was an original founder of U.S. based Earth Color Group and a co-founder of Advanced Digital Services (ADS) which was sold in 1996 to publicly traded Katz Digital Technologies. He is a current board member of the local Advertising Federation chapter and has served as a member for other national industry associations including the DMA, AGA, and the CMO council.

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