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Using Business Process Improvement for manufacturing

Manufacturing and Business Process Improvement (BPI) share similar goals. Manufacturing companies know that repeatability is a key component to their organization. BPI provides a way to measure the effectiveness and repeatability of processes. To understand how BPI can help your company in the manufacturing industry, we must learn a little bit about BPI.
Business Process Improvement focuses on helping businesses make changes in the way they are doing business. It works with three steps:

  1. Defining the organization's strategic goals and purposes (Who are we, what do we do, and why do we do it?)

  2. Determining the organization's customers (or stakeholders) (Who do we serve?)

  3. Aligning the business processes to realize the organization's goals (How do we do it better?)

The Principles of BPI
There are principles to BPI which are laid out below:

Business Goals: The Company's goal is the driving factor behind any business process. Every process within the organization should be aligned to the business goals.

Process: What does your company need to be successful? Do you need to upgrade equipment, reduce staff budgets or IT budgets? BPI focuses on evaluating your costs and becoming goal oriented.

Customers: Having good customer satisfaction is what most companies strive for. Looking for the best possible way to do this is where it gets tricky. Looking at new technology is always a good option.

Cost vs. Benefit: Any company using BPI must look at their costs to see if they outweigh the benefits. A set of standards or benchmarks, are put in place to measure the process. However, keep in mind that they must be realistic!

The Process Owners: Who is in charge of the performance and changes in the process? You must determine who will be responsible for success or failure. Having a flow chart is always a plus. This way people can look and see what their role is and how they can help the process move on faster.

Control: During meetings the process owners should evaluate f the process is meeting the current benchmarks. If it is not, you should restructure them to meet realistic goals.

Other Processes: Have a standardized system in place; don't make it up as you go along. This will save you time, effort, hours and money.

Changes: The best time to start is NOW! Most of the time companies wait for an ideal time, there never is. Once you have made up your mind, begin.

Don't Waste Time: If you aren't going to use certain measures, throw them out. When you re-hash something too much, it won't improve the process at all.

Implementing BPI in your Manufacturing Firm
Typically it is up to the managers to implement BPI. Most managers do not like changes to existing structures and they have a hard time starting the process. Like any process it is a "behavioral" change that has to occur. Smaller organizations who have implemented BPI have laid out the following lessons from their successes:


  • Start with a small process that can be completed in a short time frame.

  • - Set clear timelines.

  • - Do not spread resources thinly and focus on the short term payoff.

  • - Management and primary stakeholders must be involved, or else even a limited implementation will fail.

BPI and Manufacturing Working Together
When BPI is implemented, it will help your manufacturing company achieve effective mass production. BPI will document anything that is implemented and the results that follow. The end result will be effective customer satisfaction. Your company will have an effective process that leads to greater financial benefits. BPI allows for continual improvement to keep you competitive in the industry. Just remember that carrying out BPI is a process, it takes time, resources and total commitment to work.

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