Keeping everything operational and running efficiently is challenging enough, but when you're bogged down with dozens of different tasks and processes to worry about, it's difficult to give your full attention to any one aspect of the production process. Moving toward lean manufacturing practices can help make it easier to focus your energy on the tasks most important to your core goals. One way to help spur this movement is to outsource processes without your factory. There are numerous aspects of the company that can be handled offsite, from administrative tasks to subassembly builds and inventory management. With less on your plate, you'll be able to have a better handle on operations, and it will be even easier to spot areas for improvement and make further lean changes.

Assess your options
There are dozens of departments and tasks that can easily be handed over to third-party services, but you'll need to assess which make the most sense for your factory. Things like payroll could be easy to send off-site, while other accounting tasks may be better kept under close watch so you can monitor on your financial situation. You may also be able to outsource some tasks on the factory floor, such as subassembly builds and inventory management. Consider the benefits and disadvantages of moving each task off-site to get a solid list of options together. You want to move toward cost efficient manufacturing, not make things more difficult.

Do your research
When you've compiled your options, you can start looking at third-party services with whom you can partner. Don't just choose the first one you see. Make sure you're choosing a reputable provider. You can ask colleagues for recommendations and reviews, as well as go online to track down other client reviews of the services to get a better sense of the quality of service. Take a look at their website as well. If it looks at all unprofessional or does not have contact information listed on the site, these can be red flags that the business is less than ideal. Speak directly with a customer service representative to get answers for any questions you may have about the provider.

Make small changes
It may seem ideal to move all your non-core functions to third-party providers as soon as possible, but it's wiser to take things one at a time. This way, you can keep an eye on each process as it transitions. You will have a much easier time catching any issues or dealing with roadblocks that could arise. If you outsourced all your subassembly builds at once, not only would you have to overhaul your entire production process to accommodate the changes, but you could run into a mountain of work if there are issues with more than one of the builds. Gradual changes allow you and your employees to adjust to the changes and ensure that they go as smoothly as possible.

Reap the rewards
As more and more functions are removed from your supply chain management responsibilities, you will have more time and resources to dedicate to other areas of your factory. Not only will there be less to do, but you may be able to cut back on expenditures such as labor and utilities that had been dedicated to these tasks. This can lead to more efficient production, more reliable deliveries and better customer retention as a result. Plus, third-party businesses that handle tasks such as vendor managed inventory (VMI) solutions and kitting services are well-versed in their niches, so you can rest assured you have experienced professionals handling your company's products and paperwork.