Exploring your Future State
Things to take into account when exploring your Future State for Improvements in Information and Transaction Processes
Manufacturing organizations are implementing digital strategies and intelligent automation to become Smart or Digital sites, and ultimately drive efficiencies which deliver better outcomes for their customers and patients. Much of this is leading to:
- new automation and the adoption of technology
- collection of more data better use of the data to provide real-time visualization to make timely informed decisions
- use of this rich data through analytics and digital twins to improve product quality, efficiency and availability of highly complex and critical assets to ensure adherence to delivery schedules.
Opportunities for Improvement in Information Processes
But what about all the Information or Transaction Processes? Within a manufacturing facility, there are many information or transaction processes across all functions of the organization including:
- Finance etc.
While huge gains can be achieved in the correct application of technology to the core function of the site – i.e. the manufacturing of the product and associated services, the correct application of technology can also help to uncover opportunities for improvement in the ever growing number of Informational or Transaction Processes. A number of these processes are addressed in the larger systems such as ERP systems. However, a significant number of processes such as Change Control, CAPA Process, Project Portfolio Management Process, Problem Trackers and many others are normally managed by a combination of systems where some data or steps are computerized, but which are also complimented by the use of spreadsheets, manual steps and email.
A key challenge in improving these processes is that they normally span different functions, and inputs and approvals are required by people working in different functions or departments. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why a lot of Lean initiatives and Digital Transformation initiatives focus on eliminating waste within the production process and focus on operational efficiencies in manufacturing – thereby ignoring a huge amount of opportunity in the supporting functions.
How can you define the Future State without knowing what is possible ?
There are many Lean tools, including Kaizen, that can be applied to capture the Current State, and to brainstorm and capture the desired Future State. When capturing the Current State, bottlenecks and inefficiencies with the current process should become clear. However, one of the challenges that arises when articulating the desired Future State is: what do you base it on? Sometimes the Future State reveals itself through the application of basic Lean principles and analysing how you can shorten the time tasks take (remove waste), or the time between tasks (waiting on an approval signature or waiting on someone to review a document etc.). But can further improvements be gained by exploring what is possible with new technologies?
Exploring new technologies to unlock further opportunities for improvement in Information Processes.
When should you consider a Pilot project or Proof of Concept to help address one of the issues you and your team have identified?
You certainly don’t want to just adopt a new technology because it is on trend with the hope of it improving a process, you need to make sure it addresses the problem you are solving. Maybe in order to come up with the best solution an element of exploration of the tools that could help automate or streamline tasks in a Transaction or Information Process should be performed. Tools that can also integrate with the different existing systems that invariably play a role or are touch points in the process you are trying to improve.
Until now the technology to achieve this was not available widely and it was not cost effective. However we believe platforms such as the Microsoft Power Platform can help to Lean and Digitize some of the more complex or long lead time information processes in your organization. It also integrates very well with the tools that most business or end users operate on a day-to-day basis – i.e. Office365 and Microsoft Teams.
It is essential that you define the problem you are trying to solve clearly and use the tried and tested Lean tools to do that such as SIPOC, Kaizen, A3 etc., but when discussing solutions to eliminate waste and streamline and digitize some or all of the process, don’t forget to research and explore technologies that can help you Improve, help you to continue to Analyse and enforce the Controls needed to achieve the gains you set out to achieve.
At Dataworks, we have the experience and expertise to help you to implement digital strategies and intelligent automation to become Smart or Digital sites, and ultimately drive efficiencies which deliver better outcomes for your customers and patients. If you would like to find out more Contact Us today or call us on 051 878 555.
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