Strategic and Business Plans are the Solutions
eProcesses Consulting began helping clients prepare strategic and business plans in 2000. Prior to 2000, the company’s role with respect to strategic planning was helping clients implement strategic plans prepared for the client by strategy consulting firms. It seems that the name-recognized strategy consulting firms have no interest, or perhaps no capability in strategic plan implementation. As a result, formal and informal surveys of firms on every continent across the depth and breadth of industries indicates that a majority of companies that have paid to have strategic plans prepared have done very little to implement those plans. Many companies have strategic plans that are effectively expensive doorstops or dust collectors because the first step toward implementation is neither known, understood, or taken.
One challenge repeatedly seen in organizations everywhere is the synchronization, particularly the lack of it, between goals of the board and executive suite and the goals of managers and supervisors ultimately charged with the daily work of the organization. eProcesses Consulting began helping clients focus on improving goal alignment to help the entire management team pull in the same and in a coordinated direction.
Goal alignment starts in the board room and the C-suite. Proceeding deeper into each organizational layer, the goals of each individual should align with and be additive to the goals of the layer above them. Individuals in any layer may identify additional goals unique to their position or function. In each layer, some individuals may have specific projects which they can personally drive to help achieve specific goals.
If goals are truly worthwhile in moving the organization forward, each goal should imply or direct specific, even if unknown, changes. Each change implies one or more projects. Each project should have a senior level champion and a team assigned to complete the project according to a definite project plan and within a aggressively realistic time frame. Project progress should be reported up through the organization with detail appropriate to the project and organizational level.
eProcesses Consulting identifies the key performance indicators and measures for the client organization. Reported areas include finance and accounting, sales and marketing, production, distribution, quality, human resource development, and the environment.
Gap analysis compares historical performance levels for each essential process in an organization with the necessary throughput to achieve production goals. Gap analysis helps mining executives understand that unless yields improve, historical performance of an ore processing plant is insufficient to meet refined output goals no matter how much ore the mine delivers to the plant. The key to effective gap analysis is sufficient historical data for each critical process. In some cases, processes and capacities considered inconsequential to meeting production goals emerge as significant when compared with and aligned to the other processes.
Managers have a surprising tendency to assume often inaccurate capacity relationships between processes. For example, in a cigarette plant managers all “knew” that the capacity of the front end of the process exceeded that of the back end. Because of this perceived imbalance, managers and process engineers rationalized the purchase of a buffer, with a $1 million price tag, for each production cell. Data demonstrated that historical performance did not justify the purchase, to the disappointment of the equipment salesman.
At a South American gold mine, the processing plant manager and the mine manager used to argue about whose end of the production chain could outrun the other. In exploring actual historical performance, the argument became irrelevant since the trucks supplying the ore to the plant from the mine did not have sufficient capacity due to road configuration to meet the production goals. Mining company managers and executives had not previously considered that transportation could be the bottleneck.
Gap analysis discussed elsewhere can identify processes in need of improvement. Improvement can be in capacity or throughput, quality, cost, safety, or environmental impact. The gap can be closed by training, automation, improved control and information flow, by equipment modifications or realignment, or by other means.
Accurate documentation of the process is often the first step in process improvement. Rarely, if ever, do companies have accurate process documentation. The same companies frequently make capital and other decisions based on inaccurate documentation. In some cases, the only documentation derives from the equipment installation or plant construction days.
Six Sigma and Lean Training and Projects
Although many organizations have staff trained in sophisticated analytical techniques that are useful in driving performance improvement, most seemingly do not. eProcesses Consulting can provide both training in Lean, Six Sigma, and other approaches to performance problem solving and use these techniques to identify and implement projects to address a full range of operational and financial opportunities.
Workforce Alignment and Productivity Management and Improvement
Through the end of the 20th Century, companies in many sectors of the economy seemed interested in productivity. One possible impact of that productivity awareness is that companies removed much of the human realize excess capacity from their payrolls and, during economic recovery from recession, are slower to expand their workforces. Many companies seem somehow to know more accurately where they need additional human resource capacity and where they have sufficient capacity despite increases in customer demand.
Some companies, particularly white color and service sector companies, have poor or non-existent measures of productivity and human resources capacity. eProcesses Consulting’s experience in productivity and human capacity management dates to 1985. That experience extends to almost every sector of the economy, including blue collar, white collar, and no collar, government, financial services and insurance, manufacturing and processing, telecommunications equipment and call centers, healthcare and hospitality, and mining and natural resources.
Leadership, Management, and Organizational Development
One consistent challenge of organizations observed on five continents and virtually all economic sectors is the appraisal and development of capabilities within the organization. Many, perhaps most, companies have a comprehensive set of job descriptions for all, or nearly all, employees or positions. Rare is the company that has adequate documentation of the skills required of each position and how to attain or improve those skills. Infrequent also is the organization that has a plan to improve individual skill levels for the employee’s current or desired next position within the company.
High turnover in companies is not surprising when organizations have no plan to develop and retain employees. Competing on a basis of salary and benefits leaves employee loyalty almost a matter of chance. Companies that want to proactively address employee retention and development develop plans for those employees that address organizational and individual needs.
Preventive and Predictive Maintenance
in addition to managing people and processes, companies that use equipment need to maintain that key element to the organization’s productive capacity. While technology exists to help manage scheduled maintenance and predict degradation of equipment, companies can advantageously use equipment performance data to gain insight into equipment condition.
In a polyester processing plant, thermometers measuring extrusion temperature were beneficially used to predict replacement of extenders. Timely extruder replacement reduced plant scrap and re-work from more than 11% to less than 1% and the effective increased productive capacity dropped tens of millions of dollars to the plant’s bottom line.
Implementation – Implementation properly begins with a sound plan including responsibilities, accountabilities, and measures. As with strategic planning for businesses, the reason so many strategic plans for countries, when they exist at all, fail to produce the desired results is that people do not take the time to create an implementation plan. Just like a blueprint is generally necessary but not sufficient to construct a building, a strategic plan just tells identifies the hopes and dreams for the country.
An implementation plan defines and assigns tasks to individuals and teams with desired start and completion dates. Each task may have it’s own associated processes and activities.
eProcesses Consulting views leadership from three dimensions. First, perceptions of appropriate leadership roles, practices, and behaviors vary by culture and context. A study may be useful to provide insight into a definition of leadership within the specific culture and context. Second, within the culture and context, effective change requires leaders to do certain things and behave in certain ways. Third, each leader needs a specific leadership plan identifying individual roles, practices, and behaviors relevant to the specific strategies and tasks of interest to the individual leader.