are several other basic assumptions behind the approach to
simplifying systems that must be accepted.
The software was purchased because of its conceptual foundations
and should be operated as it was originally conceived.
Manufacturing systems should help a company set good
plans and then execute them.
The systems should become the communication device for
these plans and their execution, not a redundant set of
information separate from the real communication flow.
There was a logical strategy that made sense behind the
original implementation of these systems.
In manufacturing, the systems do not determine the process,
the process determines the systems.
a rule simple systems provide better results then complex
ones. Complexity causes users, management, and designers to lose sight of the objectives because they must focus
on the technicalities. It becomes difficult to maintain training
and preparedness levels. Complex systems are difficult to
update. Most important, they are hard to operate,
require unnecessary effort, and seldom satisfy their
users. Complexity is easy to define. It is the existence of
bureaucratic steps, non-value added activities, over
structured data, reports and data that no one uses or needs, levels of precision that are irrelevant to the decision making
process, and tools that do not fit the manufacturing process.
is more difficult to define. Oversimplification can
lead to systems that do not get the job done, but are convenient
because they demand little maintenance. Our objective
is to have quality systems to aid our planning and execution, so
they must contain all the necessary functionality
and information. Perhaps the best way to define simplicity
for our purposes is "the absence of complexity." Most
companies have systems that were built following a logical
concept and containing the right tools. The complexity
is in the application or the design. So, in our approach to
simplifying, we will search for complexity and remove it.
to Look for...
mentioned above, there are a number of forms complexity
can take. These must be identified in an evaluation process
as candidates for simplification.
are steps that can be eliminated, but may exist because
they were needed at one time, or are politically motivated.
company has established a buyer-planner position
in Purchasing, but has not eliminated the step of having
a material planner in P&IC review the orders and generate
requisitions in the system to the buyer-planner.
company that has improved its quality with
in-process controls has not eliminated the official quality
control approvals from its routings even though they are no longer actually done by QC. The reason for this is
that QC management feels that their "turf" is being invaded
and refuses to give up officially what they have already
given up in reality. Unfortunately, since the system
was set up to transact these approvals, QC people must go
through the motions of reporting just to satisfy the system's
requirements. In addition, the manufacturing orders
cannot be closed until all the QC approvals have been
transacted, so many completed orders remain open when QC delays performing this low priority task.
include reporting data or generating reports that no one
uses, manual entry or transfer of data between parts of
the systems that could be done automatically, multiple entries
of the same data resulting from multiple data bases, applications
that reflect yesterday's manufacturing flows, and generation of information to "cast blame" elsewhere.
an evaluation of a manufacturer's systems,
it came to light that there were over 150 different capacity
planning reports that had been created by different users through a report generator. When it was time to meet
and make capacity decisions, each user brought his or her
own information to the table. Very few decisions were made
in these meetings because most of the time was spent arguing
about whose information was correct.