How To Manage Your Production TimelineDec 29, 2021
How To Manage Your Production Timeline
Fashion runs on timelines. It's how we get our products on time, and it creates the calendar for marketings, sales, new product releases and so much more. Falling behind on our timelines, can be catastrophic and costly. So how do we manage our timelines?
In my most recent Instagram video I share some easy to do actions that anyone can begin to do to better manage your vendors and suppliers during your production timeline. You can watch that video here, but we're also going to discuss some of the Nic Tip's I share in the video, in more detail.
Check In Weekly:
The first tip I give, is to check in weekly. Weekly checkins with your factory are going to help you identify problems as they arise. Preventing a problem is the best way to solve a problem. So check in with your vendor or supplier regularly, I suggest once per week.
Depending on your vendor this can be done via phone call or email. I always prefer email because it creates a written record of the conversation, which is always helpful in hindsight situations. It will also help you to recap the situation when the need arises to brief your team, bubble it up to your manager, or speak to someone else on the vendor's team.
Great questions to start the conversation off with are:
1. Have you started my production? This is a great question to ask if a cut date wasn't communicated when you delivered your raw goods. Although, I strongly suggest getting a start date/cut date up front when raw goods and purchase orders are initially delivered or agreed upon, if you didn't do it previously, do it now.
2. Assuming production has been started, ask what problems have they identified (if any) with your production.
3. Ensure they have everything they need. There's nothing like missing raw goods to stall production starting or continuing.
These questions should begin to unfold the beginnings of any problems they may have initially stumbled upon and allow you and your partners to solve them quickly.
If Problems Are Identified, Check In Daily Until They Are Resolved
This should definitely be done via email and you want to check in and see where they are with resolving your problem and how long it will potentially cost you your deadline. If it's early in your timeline, your deadline should be fine, depending on the size and scope of the problem.
This is a great place to talk about the quality of your product development. The better your PD process, the less likely you are to experience preventable problems during production.
If your PD leaves a lot of loose ends, then you can expect your production to have problems right out the gate. The nature of these problems will be left over issues that you and your team didn't solve during the PD process.
Lastly, make sure to establish a S.M.A.R.T. goal for your expectations of successful resolution of this problem.
Communicate Your Timeline
Your vendors/suppliers should know your timelines and changes to it as soon as possible. Ideally, this should be communicated during the purchase order phase of the conversation and determined and agreed upon before they accept your goods and to work on your goods.
If changes happen to your timeline, then your vendors/suppliers need to know right away. This change needs to be in writing and the purchase order needs to be updated as well.
Ensure that vendors and suppliers that the factory hands off to are also updated with changes, as it could effect their timelines as well. So think of the suppliers that pick your goods up from the factory, if you warehouse your goods, they need to be updated as well. If you have photoshoots scheduled around the delivery of your goods, then your models and studio may need to be updated with the updated timeline as well.
The only reason why a vendor or supplier shouldn't be able to quote you a completion date is if they don't have everything they need to do their job. If that's the case, then they'll say something like, "we'll know when we'll be completed by once we have everything we need to start". If this is the situation you are in, you and your team need to do everything to get them what they need as quickly as possible.
2 Weeks Before Goods Ship, Make Sure Everything Is On Track
This is your last major effort to ensure that all is on track and everything will be completed on time. By this point any problems that were identified previously should be resolved, all timeline changes have been communicated to everyone in your supply chain and you and your teams are prepared and ready for goods to ship.
Goods are considered shipped when you have a tracking number with a courier or proof that they have left the facility. Verbal confirmation is not enough.
Often times with large factories, they will send you a PSA (pre shipment authorization), it's good, but it's not a tracking number. It's only showing you that they have (essentially) scheduled a pick up of your goods. They are authorizing shipment with either the courier or freight forwarder. You or a member of your team will still need to follow up with an actual tracking number or other record of confirmation that the goods are no longer in their possession.
This type of documentation is important because if something happens to your goods after the factory has handed them off, you need to know who is legally responsible for them for that time period.
If Your Factory Team Is Behind, Then Help Create A Strategy To Get Back On Track
This may include brainstorming or asking questions to find out what is causing the delay. If the delay is the factory/supplier error, let them know that if goods don't ship on time you will expect a reduced cost on the price of the service-many times this is a great motivator.
Ask if the production line can work overtime to deliver the work on time? Can they add more team members to the production line?
Think outside of the box to help solve the problem.
Managing timelines is one of the main parts of your role as someone who manages product. These are just some of the tips to help you learn to solve these issues for your self. In my program, Nic Hyl Fashion University there is a section that goes over creating timelines and calendars to help you successfully manage your timelines.
How do you manage your timelines now? Comment below what works for you.
Have questions or want to learn more about Nic Hyl Fashion University?
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