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Monday, October 28, 2013 - October 2013 Newsletter: Executive-in-Residence News: Jim Ruma: "Michigan Defense-Based Business Planning"
“Continuous Improvement Leading to Future Sales” ends our four-phased thoughts on building and sustaining your business. Prior newsletters discussed “Identifying and Engaging the Customer” (July 2013), “Making the Sale to Achieve Contract Award” (August 2013) and “Delivery on Time, Within Cost and to the Requirements” (September 2013).

Now that your product/service has successfully transitioned from producer development to consumer use, continuous improvement (CI) and upgrade of capabilities can sustain its use, leading to increased customer demand. Many successful techniques exist for CI and these are required tactics you must know and use. But, let’s talk about the strategy for CI. While some companies make yearly changes that attract new customers, others basically stay the same. Compare automobiles to acetylsalicylic medication (aspirin). The first changes yearly and the second only in packaging. Yet, the demand continues. You need the right strategy for each product or service you provide.

Yesterday’s planning enables today’s performance leading to tomorrow’s opportunity. Thus, strategic planning is essential. Focus on providing your customers with a competitive deliverable that is better than what the competition is supplying. Know your customer’s critical essential needs and the evaluation criteria they use to determine what to procure. Provide your best to enable your customers to survive, do better and win life’s challenges. Focus areas include determining how to provide new feature enhancements and improving integrated interface capabilities. When necessary, cooperative opportunities with others, such as teaming agreements or joint ventures, may be beneficial. While this is all a bit philosophical, it is necessary to muse over and assimilate internally as it sets a pattern for performance that may lead to a successful future.

Jim Ruma is a Macomb OU-INCubator Executive-in-Residence and assists businesses in the defense sector, especially the development of technology, engineering, manufacturing and sustainment. Jim spent 42 years with General Dynamics Land Systems, where he most recently served as Vice President of Engineering Programs and Project Management. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Defense Industrial Association Michigan chapter. Jim can be reached at the Macomb OU-INCubator at (586) 844-9320.