People in the Process

In a recent blog, Terry Schurter wrote about people in the process.  He spoke of one person in a process that had a powerful impact on that business process.  That person was a self proclaimed ‘corrector’ – they corrected anything that was not done right within the process.

I saw something similar while on a process management consulting project.

About 10 years ago, I was hired to document the engineering change process of a local manufacturer.  They didn’t manufacture thousands of products, but their products contained thousands of parts.  The process was paper based although the bill of materials was stored on a computer.

Oversimplified View of the Process

Anyone could request a change that was given a number and logged into a ‘book’.  Their ‘change control’ department routed the request to the right people.  The request always came back to the ‘change control’ department so that they knew the status of all changes.  If there was more than one change requested against an assembly, the change control department managed the potential collision.  When the change was approved, the revised bill of materials was re-keyed into a file on the computer.

While talking with the change control department and the engineers, I expected to hear about all sorts of errors.  The process wasn’t too complex, but the manufactured item contained thousands of parts – I could only imagine the potential for errors. 

The manager of the change control department also saw the potential for errors, so he was constantly double checking and making sure that no errors got past him.  However, if he were to leave the company or end up in the hospital for a month they could really be in trouble.  A few years later, they did end up purchasing a software system that would manage their engineering change process.

Beyond the thought of losing the change control manager, they knew that managing their business processes more efficiently would increase revenues, lower costs and improve customer relationships.  It can differentiate them from their competitors.  It can be the key that allows their company to break out as the market leader.

Your Thoughts…

What steps has your company taken to be a market leader?

Keeping it Real!

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