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CCL Conveyors - 5 Things you MUST not ignore when planning your bespoke conveyor belt system

The finance is in place, stakeholders have signed up to the objective and idea in principle, and you are ready to start planning your bespoke conveyor belt system. Great news! You are ready to make some really important infrastructure changes to your business, that could impact growth in a substantial way. It is a big deal. That is why it is something that should be dealt with in a considered, and methodical manner. In this week's blog, we share 5 things that customers MUST consider in those early days of project initiation.

There are a few elements to unpack here, with the top two segments being how you approach the project ie project management, and also understanding your requirements in terms of the system itself. Here at CCL, we project manage in-house the design, manufacture, build and install, but it is likely (if not essential) that you will want to have a semblance of project management at your end. Why? it is often part of a larger infrastructure project, and at the very least you need to ensure that your objectives are being met by suppliers, which needs thought and management.

Scope and requirements - Clearly understanding your pain points and the problem to be solved is the first step in your discovery. Once you know what the issue is, you can start to feed that into a set of requirements. So what is the scope of the project, and what are the aim and goals? Remember that scope and requirements do sometimes change so have an agile mindset and have some flex in mind if required. In order to nail things down as best as possible speak to a wide range of stakeholders including, the main users of the system, so if it is a factory or manufacturing environment, speak to those on the line and do some user research. The users won't be happy if you get this wrong, so now is the time to get it right before any of the builds starts.

What does success look like? - When all the system is in place and it is up and running, what will a great day look like to you? what will make you smile? and to this end what does success look like? Knowing how you want the project to pan out at an early stage is a useful marker to set down as it gives you a trajectory, something to aim for. More than likely the quality of the product will be one of the criteria, as will keeping costs in check and hitting your budget. These objectives should have a degree of measurability to them so that you KNOW that you have met them, otherwise they are pointless.

BE SMART - Following on from the above point you need to have measurability and objectives in place that can be gauged. The SMART acronym (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-framed) is one to consider here. So whenever you progress think about the different milestones you want to hit, this helps keep the structure and lets the different parts of the team and your supplier know how they are doing in relation to your plan. One task should follow the other, and a focal point is created, something to aim for collectively. Checkpoints and milestones are really important to us when we are creating a product, getting sign off at different stages means that we are on the right track, and the last thing a project needs is getting to near completion only to find that something has not been done to a customers requirements, that's why we check in regularly and make you part of the process.

Risk and De-Risk - Can you think about what you perceive to be the biggest challenges to this project? where do you think the pain points will be? is this a difficult site to install upon? is the budget so tight that there is no contingency if required? what about delays, will this greatly impact your business? Start to think at a high level as to all the things that could go wrong, and the things that you absolutely cannot afford to go wrong, and then start to split them down lower into areas that could be controlled, or mitigated. For example, if you can only access the site during the weekends, if that becomes impossible can accessing a site during nighttime be a possibility? Have regular meetings with your supplier to understand how these risks are panning out, and discuss them with your wider project team to keep them as under control as possible.

Tools for monitoring and collaboration - Covid gave us a new approach to working together. Tools such as Teams now give us options to meet in a way that was just not considered mainstream 5 years ago. This means we can all jump on a meeting and thrash things out when required, we can schedule project meetings and catch-ups without any hassle or travel. We of course visit sites regularly and there is no getting around this on most projects, but the meetings we need to clarify and confirm things can now be handled in a different way to how we used to all work.

Tools for monitoring projects have also come in leaps and bounds in recent years. Project management software is something that you should absolutely consider and invest in. Gant charts can be useful if things are pretty fixed, and these come as part of programs like confluence or Microsoft Project.

In all honesty, this blog cannot do justice to the number of options that exist so speak to colleagues and research this area yourself to come up with the best tools for your individual circumstances.

The above are great starting points for consideration at a customer's end. We manage our projects internally and will bring you into that process, at all the crucial points across the various stages of the project. We work with you, and alongside you to make the vision come to fruition, making the success that you have envisaged a reality.

The good news is that in working with CCL Conveyors on your bespoke conveyor belt project, we will be there by your side to share our experience and insight gained across projects large, medium, and small. We are always ready to help with those initial conversations, so feel free to reach out at any time for a chat. We look forward to it!

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