The following list represents the Key Service Objectives (KSO) for the Appleton Greene Process Excellence service.
No business process operates in a vacuum, nor does any business system. Before any work on Process Excellence can be undertaken is it important to gather a detailed understanding of the business environment in which all processes operate. This is fundamental to process excellence. This will indicate key suppliers and customers as well as alternative or additional business streams. Additionally, critical “support” processes will be identified, which may contribute to new solutions. A systems approach will indicate key feedback loops within the system which need to be observed or which may contribute as inputs to problem processes. It is often a surprise for senior managers to work together to see their organisation mapped. It often leads to a clarity of understanding as to what the key and core processes are. Such an approach will identify the “golden thread” which must run through all processes in order to fulfil the organisation’s objectives. It also identifies initial areas of concern or excellence which can be used to commence work on. Before this mapping is completed process Reviews for all process may be carried out, unless it is very clear which processes need to be improved. An important output of this stage is an agreement on the processes to be improved, and the selection of key staff who will be involved in the process. This will allow for a detailed analysis of training needs and current skills of those who may be involved in the project. In addition, it is important to ensure that this initiative is communicated across the organisation. Such communication may be through large “conference” type meetings, but are better managed through small workshop groups across the company. It is important that everyone in the company is given the opportunity to embrace the initiative.
The Process for improvement may come from any area of the company; ideally, but not solely, multi-functional processes have the best value in process excellence initiatives. (Thus an issue with cash collection may cover finance, sales, and order processing.) The details shown below apply to all processes which are selected for improvement. Having identified the processes for improvement, and reviewed the skills matrices, the potential team members are gathered together for workshops to explain the methodology that will take place. In particular, the importance and use of PDCA will be discussed with the teams. The group will first be facilitated in understanding the current process from inputs to outputs and production of the one paged summary document (SIPOC). In order to understand how each process operates currently the team will together produce detailed flow charts of the process, highlighting areas of concern to address, and of excellence to build upon. Further understanding as to how the process runs today will be gained by looking at data for current performance. If this does not exist in the appropriate format, it may need to be gathered again as the process run, which can be in itself a useful exercise. Having gathered the data the teams are taught to and then analyse the data. The analysis primarily concerns Statistical Process Control (SPC), and may be done using software (Baseline, WinChart and Minitab) depending on the Clients current and future needs. At this early stage it is useful for some sort of Visual Management to be introduced by each team. (These would include team details, up to date performance data recorded in SPC charts and any other information useful to outsiders). These serve as useful places for regular meetings about process performance. The process reviews of the as-is processes are summarised onto one page documents, showing key process steps, areas of concern and excellence, and customer needs and expectations. These are submitted to the senior management for review and comparison with the initial systems map.
Appleton Greene & Co Global – Successful change and process excellence should be built on existing strengths within the organisation. For this reason, Strength based change methodologies are applied; these allow the organisation to build on and appreciate what it has and continues to do well. In doing this change is seen in a positive light, and the adverse effects of “deficit” based change are avoided. A key element in the process improvement is the selection of key players within the organisation who can be used to encourage and drive the initiative. In this context they become “change leaders”. They will work as team leaders; process based teams will be heavily involved in the change process, in order that the initiative is accepted and embrace the changes making it “theirs”.
This step takes place after each team have completed the Process Review for their process. Thus this may be running at different times throughout the organisation for differing processes. Building on the work completed so far, the team needs to understand what is causing the variation in the process, and, if unacceptable, what can be done to improve it. Some of these improvements may come from the initial flow charts, but it is important to ensure that no changes are made to processes without an understanding of the expected results of the change. The data then coming from the process is checked to see if these expectations have been met, and if not, why not. This stage involves imparting skills in analysing data, and in developing new theories. These methods will be taught to teams at this stage (Lateral Thinking and TRIZ). Distinction is made between “quick wins” and “longer term solutions”; the difference being defined by the organisation, but essentially seeking that quick wins are low cost, easy to implement and reversible. Throughout this stage data will be collected from the process and monitored in SPC charts, and displayed on the Visual Management boards. A key aspect of these charts is the ability that operational staff have to monitor the process themselves, and to act to keep the process in control.
Once a process has been improved and is meeting the levels required for it, it is necessary for the improvement team to prepare to withdraw. This is done by standardising the process in its current form. The improvement team will document in high quality how the process runs today. It should also define the terms under which changes to the process may be made, if any; In particular it should address in detail how often data is to be recorded and monitored, and the actions for the operating teams to take in case the process ceases to be “in control”. The initial one page document produced by the team should be updated by the team to reflect the current reality, and should be displayed prominently on the visual management board. As the process is handed over the role of the Visual Management Board is increased, as it will show any actions taken to address out of control situations in the process; it continues to be a useful aid to senior managers who walk from process to process. It is therefore important that this board is kept live and managers involve themselves to ensure it is used and up to date.
In my time in consulting there has been a large shift from working for clients to working with clients. Given the prices paid, clients wish to gain more than the immediate work, and hope to be enabled to drive change themselves. Traditional consultancy seeks to recommend to management how the production staff should be treated to maximise output and efficiency. This traditional approach to consulting, as evidenced by companies such as McKinsey, suggests management to implement new policies and procedures. This is typically handled by the individual who carried out the study. In more recent years there has been a negative reaction to this approach, and a desire for a more “holistic” methodology in which the full system is understood, and buy in for all stakeholders is sought. This is seen as more sustainable; writers such as Peter Block and Peter Drucker have advocated such methods. Indeed Peter Drucker himself was a master of diagnosis and prognosis, typified by the ability to ask penetrating and challenging questions. The Consultancy sector appears to be struggling from its own past; many are critical or at best cynical of consultants, seeing limited value in paying high costs what they could do for themselves. With the internet many techniques and methods are available at no cost. Despite this banks and investors still rely on the work of the large consulting companies when carrying out Due Diligence exercises, or addressing concerns they have within businesses. One key attraction is the close link that such Consultancies have to accounting and legal professionals. However, there are those who realise the need for an outsider to facilitate consulting investigations. This has led to the growth of smaller consultancies, whose aim is to leave the company with more skills in it then when they arrived. Despite modern technology allowing remote working Consultancy continues to be preferred as requiring a personal approach. Certainly, to gain a good understanding of a business without visiting in person is difficult, if not impossible. Success in Consultancy is very much dependent upon building trustful relationships. This requires the consultant to have a good basis of knowledge upon which this trust can be built. Because of the move away from large Consultancies, and the rise in unemployment amongst skilled professionals, there has been a growth in the number of small consultants; in the UK in 2014 there were 80,000 consultants. The future should allow smaller consultants to gain access where in the past the larger companies have been prevalent; there is a greater willingness from smaller consultants to challenge the clients of what the “need” and to enter into discussion as to what is better for them. Much of this is driven by the need to use more personal and intimate techniques such as appreciative inquiry. With more older and experienced people available, consultancy can and should be able to offer a vast amount of skill and knowledge to clients, which would otherwise be wasted.
Manufacturing world-wide, is influenced by developments in technology. In research and design, cloud based technology is having a considerable impact, allowing design to be offshored, particularly to design centres, such as India. In operations, smaller pcs, and tablet based technology are finding their way into the production process. This is really a mixed blessing. The ability to gather considerable amounts of data, can lead to more confusion at the workface than to solving problems. One Process Engineering company where I worked as a consultant, where able to measure the thickness of materials on a conveyor belt system on which material was transported. Sensors were able to measure the thickness of the material at 100 points across its width, every second. The width of the material did not exceed 2 metres. Whilst measurement across the width was important to the process, the system which showed these 100 measurements every second was intelligible; my recommendation was to take sample readings both across the width and in time, to eliminate the “noise” from the data. When this suggestion was accepted it allowed for a much clearer analysis of the data to immediately highlight problems in the process. In production processes, robotics are increasingly more important. These are often introduced as part of lean manufacturing, as the time they take to complete most tasks in relatively stable, and thus the flow through the process easy to calculate and monitor. With robotic automation the use of “fail safe” technologies is increasing important, with “Andon” methods to warn of problems and to shut the production line down. This had meant the human operators are not excluded from the process, with one person being responsible for a number of robotic or automatic (such as CNC machines) machine cells. Thus today the challenge must be to use technology correctly, and to continue to engage people as experts in the process. Virtual teams are increasingly more important, with managers often taking responsibility for a number of plants across the world. My work in manufacturing has increasingly involved new statistical methodologies such as design of experiments. The pressure from Far East producers is likely to intensify. China, Taiwan and Vietnam are likely to become more competitive. Japan is not likely to lose its place in the production of Electronic goods and in the automotive sector. The development of new manufacturing countries in the automotive industry, particularly in the old eastern Europe, such as Skoda as an offshoot of VW, and Hyundai, now the 5th largest auto manufacturer, and established initially by Ford in Korea, is likely to be reflected in other industries. Both Automotive and Aerospace a pushing the long awaited move away from specification, to the adoption of true world class quality, “on target with minimum variation”. In order to compete in a global market western manufacturers will need to become more efficient. This does not require large investments, but requires culture changes to all the organisation to embrace both continual improvement and lean methodologies.
Non-Profit & Charities
The not for profit sector is wide, covering charitable foundations to government departments and non-governmental organisations, as well as religious foundations. In the UK, the most recognisable not for profit organisation is the National Health Service (NHS). Founded by the Labour Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan in 1948, with the aim of providing good health care to call, free at the point of service. The common ground is that all money earned or generated is used to accomplish the organisations objectives. The NHS objective of “free at the point of service” typifies many UK not for profit organisations, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, Samaritans, RSPCA, RNLI, RNIB. The writers’ experience of delivering change within the NHS is of staff who are desperate to see change, led by managers driven by counter-productive targets. Recently there has been a growth in the Charity sector, but government not for profit organisations are struggling with financing and in balancing their budgets. In the UK the NHS is under extreme pressure. In schools, new solutions for funding and excellence have been sought. With the demise of Grammar Schools, “Academies” are the new “solution” for providing high level education. These could well indicate the new direction being taken, which is local management and local responsibility. Much activity within not for profit organisations (such as “Business Wales” is led from a devolved situation) Thus in not for profit, devolution is the rule, rather than centralisation. The not for profit sector is unlikely to see any reduction in activity; on the contrary increased activity is likely. For the reasons that this sector grew, lack of government or private funding, growth is probable. In specialist areas such as health or education barriers to entry still exist, and without specific experience of these areas it is hard to gain access. Additional ways of giving donations, and tax benefits of doing so would assist the sector; the development of social media (Facebook) and modern technology may allow the organisations to become better known, and their activities more widely publicised. Against this, increasing impatience of the public with cold calls and what is seen as harassment, will require the organisations to be more discrete in their collection activities. As was discussed earlier, the sector depends largely on independent and localised staff, many of whom may be volunteers. This independence is likely to come under pressure as both governments and private sector seek to gain influence by buying their way in. The sector is likely to be squeezed between the pressures of governmental and commerce in the one hand and volunteers with social agendae on the other. This may lead to increased accountability; certainly large corporate donors may require this. The sector will see continued growth; success will be determined by the ability to manage this growth while driving efficiency and effectiveness without increasing resources. Thus the sector is in need of more advice on driving excellence and achieving quality.
Food & Beverage
Many larger companies in this sector have developed from manufacturers and by embracing agriculture where able to control the full supply chain of agricultural product. Outside the alcohol sector, the industry is strongly influenced by health foods, as well as by the frozen goods market. The sector covers the whole product life cycle. In Beverages, the sector may be divided between alcoholic and non-alcoholic. In terms of development of the sector non-alcoholic it must be seen as the area where development took place. Led particularly by Coca-Cola methods for production of extremely large quantities of bottled produce were devised. The sector must also take the credit for the development of packaging in terms of tins and Cans, and more recent PET, which had cross-overs into another sector, that of man-made fibres in clothing. The development of branding and marketing was much influenced by this sector, in the drive to distinguish similar products which were essentially the same; (examples of this might be Coca-Cola vs Pepsi or differing Beers against each other). Both sectors within the main sector are working against current trends; the efforts of governments to reduce both alcohol and sugar intakes, is leading to more transparent packaging and changed marketing tactics. The sector is being forced to appear socially responsible and not to encourage obesity or addiction. The latter is also a concern the alcoholic sector of the beverage industry, which is having to stop catering for younger drinkers with such things as “Alco-pops”. At the front end of the sector traditional resellers are being challenged by new entrants who have wider foot prints and are thus able to command lower prices and able to sell cheaper. In the UK Asda has been acquired by Walmart, whilst two German entrants, Lidl and Aldi are taking over from traditional Grocery resellers, who appear to be at a loss how to respond. With food quality becoming a key concern, it is likely that this sector will become increasingly subject to government legislation. In the USA the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) is already becoming active in requiring Food Safety Incident reports. In the UK, it is likely that the FDA’s example will be followed, as it has in the Pharmaceutical Industry. As in that industry FDA regulations have become standard and accepted across Europe; one can expect the same to apply in the handling of food and drinks where quality and safety are paramount. Given a current resistance to Genetically Modified Foods, and the pressure for Organic products, this is likely to continue in the future. The increased concern about Carbon Foot prints will add to the pressure for locally made products. The sectors will not see significant downturns; vitamin fortified waters, and energy drinks will continue to fuel the need for new products. The future will be based on strong marketing and on efficient and effective production processes.
The USA’s FDA has a strong role to play in pharmaceutical safety across the world. With concerns about product safety rising, and less risk adverse regulation, a more recent issue to arise has been that of animal testing. Although unpopular, some producers continue to use animals to test products. Many argue this testing is necessary before permitting testing on humans. It is therefore highly regulated in itself. Companies which practice it are subject to much abuse, with damage to their premises often being inflicted by animals’ rights campaigners. Testing before production and after remain a challenge. Clinical trials are controlled aggressively, meaning costs are higher. In production tests are carried out at each stage of the production line, (to produce traceability in much the same way as the aero industry). If these tests do not give satisfactory results every batch will be condemned and not available for sale. Given the very high costs of some components, this is a concern, and requires producers to have world class production facilities. Costs of medications need to be controlled. Pharmaceutical companies have high R&D costs and need to recoup these fast. Success comes by bringing new drugs to the market. The problem lies in that what has not yet been developed is complicated to manufacture safely. With the pressure to reduce resale costs the challenge is how to recoup these costs. A current issue surrounds the production of cheaper and more generic drugs. In response to medical authorities refusing to spend on more expensive drugs cheap suppliers have set up in offshore locations, such as India. Organisations such as MSF have benefited considerably from these cheaper drugs, particularly in treating widespread illnesses such as HIV/AIDS. Medical professionals are under pressure not to use more expensive treatments. The current situation is thus marked by high costs and low product prices, with increasingly strong regulation. Competition comes from unregulated sources, who have copied generic formulae and are able to sell cheaply. The issue of Indian manufacturer of generic drugs is currently being addressed by the EU, who seek to require these producers to follow international standards and to abide by patents. Increased age expectations, chronic diseases are increasing; notably “new killer diseases” such a Alzheimer’s, requiring increased research, but against this the costs of medications are being driven down by health authorities. The authorities will increasingly determine the exact nature of the drugs which can be prescribed. Future medications must have very clear and deliverable benefits. Alternative strategies could be in collaborations between larger companies, possibly ending in mergers / acquisitions, and improved manufacturing processes which adhere to FDA guidelines. There is a trend towards prevention rather than cure. This is exemplified in the area of alternative (natural) treatments, which is an area that the sector will need to watch closely. In the same way that some large companies (Virgin; Hilton) have become synonymous with heath care (in its wider sense or fitness), this may be a route that the large Pharma’s will follow.
Monthly cost: USD $1,000.00
Time limit: 5 hours per month
Contract period: 12 months
Bronze service includes:
01. Email support
02. Telephone support
03. Questions & answers
04. Professional advice
05. Communication management
The Bronze Client Service (BCS) for Process Excellence provides clients with an entry level option and enables client contacts to become personally acquainted with Mr. Boland over a sustainable period of time. We suggest that clients allocate up to a maximum of 5 Key Employees for this service. Your Key Employees can then contact the consultant via email, whenever they feel that they need specific advice or support in relation to the consultant’s specialist subject. The consultant will also be proactive about opening and maintaining communications with your Key Employees. Your Key Employees can list and number any questions that they would like to ask and they will then receive specific answers to each and every query that they may have. Your Key Employees can then retain these communications on file for future reference. General support inquiries will usually receive replies within 48 hours, but please allow a period of up to 10 business days during busy periods. The Bronze Client Service (BCS) enables your Key Employees to get to know their designated Appleton Greene consultant and to benefit from the consultant’s specialist skills, knowledge and experience.