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Helping Management Decide on the Best Implementation Sequence for the Company

If a company were to begin implementation with a "clean sheet of paper," the most logical implementation sequence for World Class Performance would be:

          (1) Design the product and the strategic vision (with QFD)

(2) Create and analyze the production and distribution process (with QFD)

          (3) Plan and control the process (with MRP II)

(4) Simplify the process and reduce its resource consumption (with JIT/TQC)

(5) Link to suppliers and to customers (with MRP II/JIT/ TQC)

          (6) Measure performance (with ABC)

          (7) Identify and reduce cost drivers (with ABC)

In practice, a company rarely starts with a clean sheet of paper but already possesses an existing product line and customers and suppliers. Performance is not terrible but neither are customer service, profits and growth as high as management and workers would like.

A fairly typical implementation sequence can be observed in fact among many companies from all industry sectors. In terms of the Three-Plus flowchart, this sequence is:

1. Resource Planning (second vertical bar) with MRP II

2. Waste Reduction (second horizontal bar) with JIT/TQC

3. New Product Development and Strategy (first plus) with QFD

4. Cost calculation (third vertical bar) with ABC, and

5. Cost reduction (third horizontal bar) with ABC.

Each of these implementations taking about two years to complete, the total sequence takes about ten years, at least in the current state of education and implementation tools and know-how.

However, the future need not necessarily be the same as the past. Tomorrow's implementation sequence does not need to be the same as the typical historical sequence which was conditioned largely on the creation and availability of

the technologies concerned. Three-Plus Integration offers four insights to help a company arrive at its own customized implementation sequence.

First, it shows that no one technology will solve all problems; each technology family addresses a specific part of the industrial process. This avoids the "flavor-of-the-week" implementation which characterizes so many companies' improvement programs.

Second, it illustrates the need to strike a balance between control-oriented technologies and change-oriented ones. Too much control stifles change, but too much change without a commensurate amount of control engenders waste and frustration.

Third, it affords management the opportunity to begin implementation of World Class Performance wherever it will be most cost-effective. Since each "plus" in the Three-Plus chart is a cost driver for the next, management can decide where within the overall customer-supplier chain of the company scarce resources should be applied for maximum payback. Which cost drivers would it be better to reduce at first? Which ones later?

Fourth, the Three-Plus flowchart gives a road map for implementation. Which technologies have we already mastered ? Which parts of our industrial process are the strongest and which the weakest? What control or change bars remain to be "filled in" before the Three-Plus chart is complete?

A problem with Three-Plus Integration is in assuming that people will want to work together enough to use it and its member technologies. The centrifugal pressures of the 21st century certainly will be no less than those of the 20th. Three-Plus Integration doesn't appear to have any specific mechanism to motivate people to use it.

This is true, and two solutions are possible. One solution is to create specific programs designed to explain the approach and to encourage people to use it. The other is to count on the clarity and practicality of its star technologies to excite and to guide potential users, without doing anything special to motivate them. Probably each company will find its own best position between these two extremes.

Even as the march of new technologies continues, the Three-Plus matrix chart, with its possibilities both for coupling on new technologies and for stacking them, offers a stable yet flexible framework for the future.


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