I get a lot of questions about production planning. Normally I’d answer this one privately but then I thought it’d be good for you guys to help out with some advice from your practical experience. If you have the book, you’ll see that much of her plan is intact; she just needs a little tweaking. The other thing is, because she’s obviously read it well, her questions are very good. The average questions I get aren’t this well thought out and sharing them will help those of you who are still in the production planning stage to ask similar questions. At the outset, it’s more important to have the right questions than the right answers as the latter can vary so much according to any given product line. So, put on your peer consulting hat and have at it while I finish up some past due client work (I’m also working on mittens). Maria writes:
I am planning to launch a jeans company for curvier girls aged 13-18; I’m still in the planning stages. I’d like to plan out the first hypothetical year, and then spend that year observing (going to trade shows, costing, reading everything, etc). But first, I need that hypothetical year to begin with.
The current plan is to produce three collections per year: Fall, Winter (Fall2), and Spring-Summer. Is that overly ambitious for a first-year firm? Should I cut it down to 2 collections (Fall & Spring-Summer)? I’d like to make no more than 5 jean styles per collection; optimal would be 3-4 really fantastic, profitable, selling, designs.
So, right now I’m planning out production- i.e., Kathleen’s standard 16-week pre-production stage, market, and then “post”-production, which would be actually physically making whatever makes minimums.
After that comes market, which is apparently a 3-4 month period. (Assume I have the money to do this): I’d like to do one or two trade shows, and some trunk shows (depending on the actual definition of a trunk show and all that entails…). If not, I’d like to have traveling sales reps.
After that, assuming the designs make minimums,– is the actual production process also a 16-week process? It seems that it could be fit easily into an 8-10 week process, if you are motivated and precise. I thought this “nimble-ness” was one of the chief advantages of being a small company– except, there are just-in-timers who have cut the concept-to-shipping time frame down to like 8 weeks??? I’m going to assume these are not at all my competitors!!!
If I could, I’d like to spend time in pre-production (pre-market) making sure the product is as marketable as possible; after that, I’d like to economize on time as much as possible in order to ship in a very timely manner.
According to this schedule, the company would be in the pre-production, post-production, and market- phases for at least two collections, year-round. Is this correct? Is it do-able?