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Tag Archives: Continuous Improvement

The Power of the 5 Cost Management Strategies in Reducing Costs

27 Jul

A commonly quoted statistic is that 80% to 95% of the cost of a product is determined by its design and is therefore set before the item enters manufacturing. This assumption suggests that the dominant focus of Cost Management should be during Product Development and not during Manufacturing.

However, contrary to a widely held assumption, companies can integrate a variety of Cost Management techniques not only in the design phase but throughout the product life cycle.  This is to ensure that there is a substantial reduction in costs.  In fact, companies achieving Operational Excellence and competing aggressively on cost might consider the adoption of some form of an Integrated Cost Management Program that spans the entire product life cycle.

An organization must have a good understanding of Integrated Cost Management and the 5 Cost Management Strategies that they can use to reduce costs but still attain the desired level of functionality and quality at the target costs.

The 5 Cost Management Strategies

The 5 Cost Management Strategies play a crucial role in the company’s integrated approach to Cost Management.

The 5 Cost Management Strategies can be applied throughout the product life cycle with one technique used during the product design and the rest during manufacturing.

  1. Target Costing. This is a technique applied during the design stage. Target Costing is best used when the manufacturing phase of the life cycle of a product is short.
  2. Product-specific Kaizen Costing. This is a technique applied during the early stages of the manufacturing phase. It enables the rapid redesign of a new product to correct for any cost overruns. The primary rule in Product-specific Kaizen Costing is that the product’s functionality and quality have to remain constant.
  3. General Kaizen Costing. The third Cost Management Strategy, this technique is applied during the manufacturing phase. It focuses on the way a product is manufactured with the assumption that the product’s design is already set.  This technique is effective when addressing manufacturing processes that are used across several product generations.
  4. Functional Group Management. This is the technique that is applied in the production process. Functional Group Management consists of breaking the production process into autonomous groups and treating each group as a profit instead of a cost center. The switch to profit as opposed to cost allows groups to increase the throughput of production processes even if changes result in higher costs. It enables the change in mindset that functional group management induces.
  5. Product Costing. The 5th Cost Management Strategy, this is the technique that coordinates the efforts of the other four techniques. It does coordination work by providing the other four techniques with important, up-to-date information.

Target Costing vis-a-vis Kaizen Costing

Kaizen Costing as known as continuous improvement costing.  It is a method of reducing managing costs. Kaizen Costing has a similarity with Target Costing but it also has its differences.  (Note: Kaizen is the Japanese term for Continuous Improvement and often tied to the philosophy of Lean Management.)

Both Kaizen Costing and Target Costing can achieve results with lower resources. This is basically their similarity. On the other hand, the differences lie in their usage and involvement.

Target Costing is used on the design stage and requires the involvement only of designers. On the other hand, Kaizen Costing is used during the manufacturing stage and requires high involvement of employees.  The general idea of Kaizen Costing is to determine target costs, design products, and process to not exceed those costs.

Interested in gaining more understanding of these Cost Management Strategies? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about 5 Cost Management Strategies here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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How to Create a Next-Generation Learning Organization That Enables Digital Transformation?

27 Jul

Survival of a business in this digital age largely depends on its ability to timely embrace Digital Transformation.  Digital Transformation entails using Digital Technologies to streamline business processes, culture, and customer experiences.

In order to compete today—and in future—and to enable Digital Transformation, organizations should work towards fostering a culture of continuous learning, since Digital Transformation depends on learning and innovation.  The organizations that holistically embrace this culture are called “Next-Generation Learning Organizations.”

The next generation of Learning Organizations capitalize on the following key variables; Humans, Machines, Timescales, and Scope.  These organizations incorporate technology in enabling dynamic learning.  Creating Next-Generation Learning Organizations demands reorganizing the entire enterprise to accomplish the following key functions to win in future:

  1. Learning on Multiple Timescales
  2. Man and Machine Integration
  3. Expanding the Ecosystem
  4. Continuous Learning

Learning on Multiple Timescales

Next-Generation Learning Organizations make the best use of their time.  They appreciate the objectives that can be realized in the short term and those that take long term to accomplish.  Learning quickly and in the short term is what many organizations are already doing, e.g., by using Artificial Intelligence, algorithms, or dynamic pricing.  Other learning variables that effect an organization gradually are also critical, e.g., changing social attitudes.

Man and Machine Integration

Rather than having people to design and control processes, Next-generation Learning Organizations employ intelligent machines that learn and adjust accordingly.  The role of people in such organizations keeps evolving to supplement intelligent machines.

Expanding the Ecosystem

The Next-generation Learning Organizations incorporate economic activities beyond their boundaries.  These organizations act like platform businesses that facilitate exchanges between consumers and producers by harnessing and creating large networks of users and resources available on demand.  These ecosystems are a valuable source for enhanced learning opportunities, rapid experimentation, access to larger data pools, and a wide network of suppliers.

Continuous Learning

Next-generation Learning Organizations make learning part and parcel of every function and process in their enterprise.  They adapt their vision and strategies based on the changing external environments, competition, and market; and extend learning to everything they do.

With the constantly-evolving technology landscape, organizations will require different capabilities and structures to sustain in future.  A majority of the organizations today are able to operate only in steady business settings.  Transforming these organizations into the Next-Generation Learning Organizations—that are able to effectively traverse the volatile economic environment, competitive landscapes, and unpredictable future—necessitates them to implement these 5 pillars of learning:

  1. Digital Transformation
  2. Human Cognition Improvement
  3. Man and Machine Relationship
  4. Expanded Ecosystems
  5. Management Innovation

1. Digital Transformation

Traditional organizations—that are dependent on structures and human involvement in decision making—use technology to simply execute a predesigned process repeatedly or to gain incremental improvements in their existing processes.  The Next-generation Learning Organizations (NLOs), in contrast, are governed by their aspiration to continuously seek knowledge by leveraging technology.   NLOs implement automation and autonomous decision-making across their businesses to learn at faster timescales.  They design autonomous systems by integrating multiple technologies and learning loops.

2. Human Cognition Improvement

NLOs understand AI’s edge at quickly analyzing correlations in complex data sets and are aware of the inadequacies that AI and machines have in terms of reasoning abilities.  They focus on the unique strengths of human cognition and assign people roles that add value—e.g., understanding causal relationships, drawing causal inference, counterfactual thinking, and creativity.  Design is the center of attention of these organizations and they utilize human imagination and creativity to generate new ideas and produce novel products.

3. Man and Machine Relationship

Next-generation Learning Organizations (NLOs) make the best use of humans and machines combined.  They utilize machines to recognize patterns in complex data and deploy people to decipher causal relationships and spark innovative thinking.  NLOs make humans and machines cooperate in innovative ways, and constantly revisit the deployment of resources, people, and technology on tasks based on their viability.

Interested in learning more about the other pillars of Learning?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Digital Transformation: Next-generation Learning Organization here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Business Process Reengineering (BPR) Implementation Guidelines: Preventing the Risk of Failure

11 Mar

Business Process Reengineering (BPR) can be a great success but it can also be a great failure.

After months or years of careful redesign, organizations can achieve dramatic improvements in individual processes.  However, a paradoxical outcome has become almost a commonplace. Organizations suddenly find themselves watching the overall results decline. Process costs were reduced by 34% yet operating income stalls.  Claims process time cut by 44% yet profits drop. It seems that organizations are squandering management attention and other resources on projects that look like winners but fail to produce bottom-line results for the business unit as a whole.

Reengineering can actually deliver revolutionary process improvements and many organizations have been undertaking major reengineering effort.   However, like any major change program, a reengineering project can produce lasting results only if it is designed and implemented the right way.

Implementing Business Process Reengineering

BPR implementation is a series of waves that can wash over the organization for years, leaving a system for continuous improvement. It must be undertaken with a clean slate approach to process design. Only then can companies avoid a classic reengineering pitfall of focusing on fixing the status quo.

Implementation of the Business Process Reengineering requires that new infrastructures are planned and built to support this Business Transformation. The full commitment of senior executives on its redesign and implementation must also be present to ensure the success of the reengineering project.

It is essential that organizations have a good understanding of the success factors, as well as root causes of failure.  While reengineering projects can succeed, it can also fail.  There are 4 practices that are the most damaging.

The 4 Root Causes of Failure

The root causes of failure remain a challenge for organizations.  These are 4 causes they must watch out for to achieve a successful BPR implementation.

  1.  Assign average performers. This is the tendency of organizations to enlist average performers from headquarters. This often happens because of an existing belief that assigning top performers will affect the business unit’s performance.
  2. Measure only the plan. Measuring only the plan happens when there is a lack of a comprehensive measurement system.  The organization also fails to track whether the implementation is succeeding or failing.
  3. Settle for the status quo. Settling for the status quo is a very deadly decision or reaction. When this happens, aspirations are never translated into reality. There exists the inability to think outside existing skill levels, organizational structure, or system constraints. Further contributing to this is the existence of political infighting on incentives and information technology during implementation. When this exists, often the decision is to maintain a status quo that could be debilitating to the organization.
  4. Overlook communication. During BPR implementation, there is a tendency to overlook communication.  Probably due to a lack of proper understanding, the level of communication is underestimated during implementation. Often, communication is done using memos, speeches, or PR videos.  While these may have its purpose, at times these methods can be limiting.

BPR implementation requires a small group format where employees can give feedback and air their concerns.  This may be time-consuming but it is important. In fact, organizations must create a comprehensive communication program that uses a variety of methods of communication.  When this is undertaken, the chances of succeeding during the BPR implementation is high.

BPR implementation is most crucial.  Hence, organizations must have a keen eye, as well as strong leadership development and commitment, to pursue it despite its challenges. BPR implementation is a series of waves that can wash over the organization for years. Hence, a system of continuous improvement must be in place.

Interested in gaining more understanding of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) Implementation Guidelines? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Business Process Reengineering (BPR) Implementation Guidelines here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Are you a management consultant?

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Are You Interested In Transforming Your Traditional Warehouse into a Lean Warehouse?

23 Feb

As the last decisive step in customer service, a warehouse ensures cost effective distribution.  Latest technological innovation has turned warehousing into a competitive advantage.  It offers untapped potential for improvement. However, warehousing is a hugely neglected part of global supply chains.  There is inconsistency in picking, packing and shipping orders, storing receipts, and managing inventory and logistics operations.

These and the following roadblocks in the way of smooth warehousing operations and Lean Management exist in every traditional warehouse:

  • Lack of focus on acquiring technology to facilitate in improving efficiency and quality.
  • Inability to utilize a structured approach to ascertain the reasons for poor performance.
  • Lack of a big picture viewpoint pertaining to processes, costs, or external supply chain partnerships.
  • Absence of a continuous improvement culture to achieve warehouse operations excellence.
  • Lack of communication, organization, and proper training of resources.

These shortcomings call for implementing Lean Warehousing methodology to unlock improvement opportunities and savings in operational, efficiency, and maintenance related costs.  First initiated by Toyota, the Lean Warehousing approach has a deep emphasis on eliminating 3 basic limitations: waste, variability, and inflexibility. The Lean Warehousing methodology focuses on the following 3 improvement areas:

  1. Cost Reduction
  2. Customer Quality
  3. Service Levels

Cost Reduction

The Lean Warehousing methodology concentrates on increasing productivity and reducing operating costs.  This is achieved by:

  • Cutting undue walking and searching
  • Preventing needless replenishment, reworks, waiting times, and double handling
  • Upgrading demand and capacity planning and manpower allocation

Customer Quality

A Lean Warehouse seeks to take the customer quality to the next level by avoiding:

  • Order deviations
  • Picking errors
  • Damaged goods

Service Levels

Improving service levels is at the center of a Lean Warehousing methodology, which involves:

  • Reducing lead times
  • Enhancing on-shelf availability

Lean Warehousing Transformation

Lean Warehousing Transformation entails streamlining operations to identify waste, know how to increase service levels, implement standardization and innovative ideas, and learn to evaluate and manage performance.  Such transformation becomes a reality in an experiential learning environment and by developing organizational capabilities in 3 critical areas:

  1. Operating System
  2. Management Infrastructure
  3. Mindset and Behaviors

Operating System

The organizational capability to configure and optimize all company physical assets and resources to create value and minimize losses.  The focus areas under operating systems include eradicating variability, encouraging flexibility, and promoting end-to-end design.

Management Infrastructure                                                                   

The organizational capability to strengthen formal structures, processes, and systems necessary to manage the operating system to achieve business goals.  The focus areas under Management Infrastructure are performance management, organizational design, capability building, and functional support process.

Mindset and Behaviors

The organizational capability to manage the way people think, feel, and act in the workplace individually as well as collectively.  The target areas to focus on here include a compelling purpose, collaborative execution, up-to-date skills, drive to improve, and committed leadership.

Model Warehouse Implementation

Lean Warehousing Transformation necessitates developing a “Model Warehouse,” which presents facilities for supply chain people to practically experience state-of-the-art warehouse operations in a modern warehouse and shop-floor environment.  The Model Warehouse incorporates newest technology and systems, and offers real-life conditions for building capabilities—i.e., optimization of storage, pick and pack, and dispatch processes.  Newest technologies—e.g., Smart Glasses and HoloLenses—available at the facility help improve the performance of pickers significantly and execute multi-order picking efficiently.

Such a setting allows people to observe and analyze the performance of an exemplary warehouse and implement this knowledge at their own premises.  Leading organizations organize a week-long rigorous knowledge sharing workshop—in an experiential learning environment of a Model Warehouse—for their people to have a hands-on experience to learn Lean Warehousing, actual picking, packing, root cause analysis, and performance management.  The participants of the Model Warehouse Knowledge Sharing Workshop are excellent candidates for “change agents” to implement Lean Transformation.

Interested in learning more about Lean Warehousing, Model Warehouse Implementation, and Lean Warehousing Transformation?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Lean Warehousing Transformation here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Do You Know What’s the Key Imperative to Continuous Security Improvement? A Rugged Culture of Information Security

13 Jan

In the age of rapid technological progress, where Digital Transformation has become pervasive, business applications are getting increasingly complex and interconnected.  The advancement in technology has also helped attackers get more aggressive and inflict more damage to IT systems and applications.  Application security tools and techniques are evolving too, yet most organizations still fall prey to vulnerabilities.  Cybersecurity has become a bigger threat than ever before.

The current application security methodologies mainly count on detecting weaknesses and correcting them.  Most organizations, primarily, rely on utilizing penetration testing or automated tools, at the most.  They ignore to concentrate on establishing strong defenses against threats, merely do patch work, and leave the weaknesses unguarded.  A small fraction implement threat modeling, security architecture, secure coding techniques, and security testing—but even they are typically unsure of how these approaches link with their strategic business objectives.

A few weaknesses constitute majority of break-ins–e.g., SQL injections and buffer overflows.  Major security threats and application vulnerabilities include compromised credentials, failure to patch promptly, SQL injections, and cross-site scripting.  A large number of security threats can be neutralized just by taking care of security hygiene.

Secure Software Development

State-of-the-art technology and best practices available today offer effective yet economical methods to prevent security breaches and threats.  These tools and practices work well without affecting the pace of delivery or straining the users unnecessarily.

Secure software development not only warrants analyzing the technology but also looking at the entire organization that creates the software—people, processes, tools, and culture.  Secure software development culture inspires security by promoting and improving communication, collaboration, and competition on security topics and rapidly evolving the competence to create available, survivable, defensible, secure, and resilient software.

Rugged Software and a Culture of Security

Rugged software, or Rugged DevOps, promotes developing secure and resilient software by embedding this practice into the culture of an organization.  A Rugged culture of security is more than just secure—secure is a state of affairs at a specific time whereas Rugged means staying ahead of threats over time.  The rugged code aligns with the organizational objectives and can cope with any challenges.  Rugged enterprises constantly tweak their code and their internal organization—including governance, architecture, infrastructure, and operations—to stay ahead of attacks.  All applications developed by “Rugged” organizations are well-secured against threats, are able to self-evaluate and distinguish ongoing attacks, report security statuses, and take action aptly.

Rugged software is a consequence of the efforts to rationalize and fortify security.  This is achieved by communicating the lessons learnt from experimentation, setting up stringent lines of defense, and adopting and sharing rigid safety procedures across the board.  Adopting Rugged software development practices across the enterprise help execute more applications promptly, improve security, and achieve cost savings across the software development life-cycle.  Rugged software development is cost efficient because of fewer labor and time requisites during the requirements, design, execution, testing, iteration, and training phases of the development life-cycle.

The following 10 guiding principles apply to all organizations aiming to develop a Rugged culture of security:

  1. Perpetual Attacks Anticipation
  2. Staying Informed
  3. Security Hygiene
  4. Continuous Improvement
  5. Zero-defect Approach
  6. Reusable Tools
  7. One Team
  8. Comprehensive Testing
  9. Threat Modeling
  10. Peer Reviews

Let’s discuss the first 5 principles for now.

Perpetual Attacks Anticipation

A Rugged software development organization anticipates nonstop vulnerabilities and attacks—deliberate or accidental.

Staying Informed

Rugged organizations appreciate staying informed about security issues and potential threats, seek recommendations from security specialists, and identify and update security policies and rules.

Security Hygiene

Rugged organizations take good care of their security hygiene by limiting the sharing of user accounts, carefully guarding the passwords and sensitive personal information.  They employ secure software practices.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement is the management principle foundational to Lean Management that should be embraced by all areas of an organization.  In case sensitive information is left lying on somebody’s desk at night, Rugged organizations ensure that this does not recur in future and gather feedback from the people who happen to notice it.

Zero-defect Approach

Rugged organizations leave no room to tolerate any known weaknesses.  An issue is resolved as soon as it is detected.

Interested in learning more about the guiding principles to develop a Rugged culture of security?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on the Culture of Security here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Advancing Digital Transformation in the Highest Form: The Next-gen Operating Model

6 Dec

Companies often know where they want to go. Companies want to be more agile, quicker to react, and more effective. They want to deliver great customer experience, take advantage of new technologies to cut costs, improve quality and transparency, and build value.

Yet, while most companies are trying to get better, the results tend to fall short. One-off initiatives in separate units do not deliver big enterprise-wide impact. Improvement methods that were adopted almost invariably yield disappointing results.

Senior leaders have a crucial role to take in making things happen. Transformation cannot be a siloed effort. A Next-generation Operating Model is essential to break through organizational inertia and trigger step-change improvements.

Understanding the Next-gen Operating Model

Companies need to commit to a Next-gen Operating Model if they want to build value and provide compelling customer experiences at a lower cost.

  1. Integrated, Organization-wide Operational Improvement Program. This approach is focused on Customer Journeys and distinctive customer experience. The Integrated, Organization-wide Operational Improvement Program is a holistic approach towards how operations can contribute to delivering distinctive customer experience. It cuts across organizational siloes in both customer-facing and end-to-end processes. This approach is a preferred organizing principle. Having multiple independent initiatives within separate organizational groups can deliver incremental gains. However, the overall impact can be underwhelming.
  2. Holistic Customer Journey. This is an approach that makes use of multiple capabilities instead of individual capabilities to achieve greater impact.

The holistic Customer Journey is achieved when the 5 core capabilities are utilized.

Discovering the 5 Core Capabilities

There are 5 core capabilities essential in unlocking the most value in the shortest possible time. Two of the 5 capabilities are Digitization and Advanced Analytics.

Digitization is the process of using tools and technology to improve journeys. It has the capacity to transform customer-facing journeys by creating the potential for self-service. It has the power to reshape time-consuming transactional and manual tasks that are part of internal journeys more so when multiple systems are involved.

Another core capability worth knowing is Advanced Analytics. This is the autonomous processing of data using sophisticated tools to discover insights and make recommendations. It provides intelligence to improve decision making and enhance journeys when nonlinear thinking is required. This is very useful in claims triage, fraud management, and pricing.

There are 3 other core capabilities that are essentially important in these days of Digital Transformation. These are Intelligent Process Automation, Business Process Outsourcing, and Lean Process Design.

Intelligent Process Automation is an emerging set of new technologies that combine fundamental process redesign with process automation and machine learning. It can replace human effort in processes that involve aggregating data from multiple systems taking a piece of information from a written document and entering it as standardized data input.

Business Process Outsourcing works best for processes that are manual. It uses resources outside the main business to complete specific tasks or functions. Back-office processing of documents and correspondence is an example of BPO.

The Lean process Design is one capability that helps companies streamline processes, eliminate waste, and foster a culture of Continuous Improvement. It is considered a versatile methodology as it can be applied in multiple processes.

Organizations can use these capabilities to achieve the greatest impact. The maximum effect, however, can be achieved when specific implementation guiding principles are followed.

Interested in gaining more understanding of the Next-gen Operating Model within the context of Digital Transformation? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Digital Transformation: Next-gen Operating Model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Are you a management consultant?

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