During my initial
tool building years, a strong point that continued to stand out was
the fact that we were developing tools without the end user
involved. Without their input and relationship during the
development phase, when the finished product was presented to them
they had no interest in its use.
In the early to mid
80's I left the tool building side of the computer and went to the
data development side as a user and not a systems analyst. Our
management at this point learned that the users of the computer
systems had to be involved in their development. Let's say they
understood the concept, but truly only gave it lip service. This was
proved as I was put on special assignment in the later 80's to move
along faster our data and tool building developments. This time I
had proof of management lip service, as my salary and users to be on
the project team were part of the project budget. It was the first
time I could show at the time the project deadline was reached, that
we did not succeed because of non-support. I still had half the
project moneys in hand at which time the project was to be
Needless to say,
the project effort was stopped and I was assigned as a Master
Scheduler of our Hot Working group. This was an interesting and
valuable assignment. I viewed this as being back in the tool
building side of the computer again. During this short period we
were able to build two strong material planning and flow control
tools. Why was this able to happen:
1. I, as the user
drove and worked on the tool development and could modify the tools
as they were being developed.
2. Through past APICS education and certification, I was able to
learn and understand the overall process flow quickly.
3. I was supported within our Operations Research group.
The Window of
Dramatic Business Change and Success
During the period
of my last project assignment and Master Scheduling role, our
management was at work to improve the overall business development
and direction. The outcome of this successful effort was:
1. Driving the
business strategy utilizing Focus Manufacturing concepts.
2. Implementing the concepts of Synchronous Manufacturing.
3. Defining the business needs to support building the data
4. True management support of project development and obtainment of
In 1989 I had the
opportunity to go back to the project development role to again be a
party in developing the data architecture after the new management
process was implemented. No words can truthfully describe the
change. The reasons for success:
1. Time completion
was limited to 1 year.
2. Executive and project team accountable for budget and time
window. Budget was met and effort implemented in 13 months.
3. Management support provided. System and user project personnel
provided when requested. Never had to follow up and make the request
a second time.
4. Simple project methodology and management control tools were
5. Effort was a defined piece of the overall business strategy.
6. It was the only large active development effort for the year.
The only fallback
of the project effort was that a portion of the control tools to be
developed were tabled. Management understood this, but was adamant
that the structure had to be completed.
The 90's, the
Window of Opportunity for Control Tool Development
In the early 90's I
had the opportunity to leave the product side of the business and go
to the maintenance arena. At that time, we were able to implement
the APICS professed concept of Master Planning. For further
development it' was necessary to start all over again in mapping out
the data architecture to support maintenance as a business.
After this short
window of time I was requested to return to the product side of the
business. During this window Armco purchased Cyclops Industries and
initiated a joint venture in the USA with Ascerinox of Spain.
Management again drove these business strategies utilizing the
business concepts of Focus manufacturing.
In my return to the
product side, I learned quickly that we had not moved onward with
the manufacturing control tool development. At that time I told our
company president, that with the data architecture we had in place,
we as a business were sitting on a goldmine of opportunity. We had
not even begun to break the ice.
Efforts have been initiated and are continuing to build the tools
and take advantage of the gold mine of data. Is this conversion of
data into information easy? From my perspective, no. It sounds
simple, but if it was so simple I believe most of us would be a lot
further along than we currently are. We today are succeeding, maybe
not at the pace we want to be succeeding, but we are succeeding. The
following are my feelings as to why we are succeeding. You will
recognize some of the same points that allowed us to succeed in
developing the data architecture.
To Be Continued
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 01