The organization is investing a sizable sum of money and resources to ensure that their manufacturing improves, and the expectation is that this investment will be recovered. However, the organization needs to prepare itself for a fundamental change.
During the Factory Review, we see partly prepared organizations expecting the software implementation to resolve all of the manufacturing issues. Often inadequate management intervention in the business is the problem, and the software cannot substitute for the management process.
How does an organization take any structured decision to identify which software will best suit their needs and resolve their problems when they have not clarified their manufacturing issues?
Once all of the data and processes have been tidied up, the Factory Review can be initiated. Generally, this occurs in a number of phases:
The organization has tidied up the obvious non-operational problems. It now has a clearer picture of its operations and their problems. The first part of the process is to identify where the problem lies. Which problems will the software solve? Are they actually root cause problems or symptoms? Does it actually need the software, or is it a fundamental problem elsewhere impacting on the process? How ready is that process?
As a guideline, some questions need to be answered at this stage:
- The first question is “What business are you in?” This needs to be carefully understood. It is this question that is fundamental to everything that follows. An organization can be in more than one business – it is governed by how they define themselves – for example, are they in movement solutions or a vehicle hire? Again, agreement across the business is important at this point.
- Do the functional strategies align with the business choices? A good example here is an organization targeting high volume, low-cost products but having labor-intensive machines.
- Does the organizational strategy align with the goals and objectives of the implementation? The manufacturing software is a tool to help the organization achieve specific goals based upon the goals that have been identified, and not resolve poor strategy. By implementing software x, we address “goal a” which requires a tool to fix problem 1, 2, 3, etc.
This phase is a “first-pass Factory Review” and is characterized by regular collaboration between the organization and the software consultants. This is now to align the software consultants and the organization and takes some time to agree the best fit map of the process.
A factory is a special ecosystem of many components and it requires stability and nurturing. It does not handle being bounced around on a daily basis, hence an MES is a good start to bring stability and improve efficiencies. There is a multitude of issues that need to be uncovered during the Factory Review process, and unfortunately, take a while to resolve due to the interconnected nature of the issues.
The software helps achieve the last 40% of the improvement curve, the first 60% of the curve is the responsibility of the leadership.
As this stage draws to a close, the level of agreement within the leadership will be very high. Each process will have a finalized map and related analysis clearly showing the processes as they will be configured into the software. The organization is now ready to embark upon the Formal Phase of the Factory Review.
The organization has designed its processes and the formal Factory Review now takes place to document and design the software configuration.
The first problem is that understanding a factory takes some time and experience. It requires a learned approach, and not simply a walk through the factory – more likely a number of walks through the factory, and a number of discussions around the possibilities and requirements of the implementation.
There are different formats for this Factory Review, and some high-level information is required to complete the picture. However, a vast quantity of detail is also required. Often, this is not at the correct level, and is generally insufficient which delays the process. The better the organization has prepared for the formal Factory Review, the quicker and more accurate the implementation will be, and the faster the return on the investment will be realized.
The old carpenter’s adage best describes this process – “measure twice, cut once.”
These two blogs have covered the level of preparation needed for an effective implementation. Some may not require this level of detail. However, a number of implementations have found the organization to be hopelessly under-prepared, delayed the implementation and ROI significantly.