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Process optimization - but not according to scheme F

21/04/2021 2022/08

Many companies decide to bring external consultants on board. Because the view from the outside often helps to put processes in a completely new light and uncover optimization potential. That's how I came to work for our client in the automotive supply industry as an HR Development Consultant.

For myself, production companies have always been exciting. Watching how individual parts become a complex component or even an entire car or something similar is a work of art of modern engineering for me. At the same time, the production employees give their best every day to ensure that a finished product is created at the end. This interaction fascinates me. I have fond memories of various plant tours where the robotic arms performed their recurring choreographies to set a weld seam or move a part into its intended position.

Our customer is a traditional supplier for the automotive industry. At the site in Saxony, vehicle hinges, door retainers and special products such as oil pumps and aluminum components for automotive have been manufactured since 1992. The extended field of competence includes prototyping as well as small series production. In addition to tradition, this customer also attaches great importance to innovative strength, and thus a major focus is on the production of stepless hinges in the automotive sector as well as on the development of hinges with integrated safety systems, which demonstrate their added value particularly in emergency situations. At the end of 2016, the production structure was expanded to include a plant in China. The company's largest customer is Daimler.

The challenge: process optimization

Our customer has had various owners and multiple changes of corporate form in recent years. Most recently, the entire competencies and a large part of the tasks were centralized at the parent company. Due to another change of ownership, the company became a GmbH (limited liability company) again, so that all outsourced tasks had to be reintegrated and taken over by the company itself.

Since contracts in the automotive sector are only awarded if specific certifications are met, the company had to be certified promptly in this new constellation. The existing process descriptions were used for this purpose and, due to various factors, were partly taken over 1:1 from the Group processes.

The production and workflow processes and responsibilities described in accordance with certification criteria represented a formal reality. In practice, the challenges were reflected in unclear responsibilities and process flows that could not be represented. In addition, areas in the company were given tasks that were not originally intended to be located in these areas. This in turn led to overloads of individual structures and participants in some places. Disclosing these issues was a first step toward ensuring clarity, a sense of responsibility and structure.

My mission

The first step was to create a responsibility matrix that clearly shows which person is involved in which process. Going deeper, this clarity was also to be created for individual process steps. The roles of the person involved were also clarified. This makes it obvious, for example, whether the person bears responsibility in a process step or assumes a supporting task.

In consultation with the management level, I recommended the use of the RASIC* model and then developed blueprints that can be used generally in all processes. First, we developed a model based on the existing process and workflow descriptions, which were then supplemented by detailed discussions with the department heads and process owners in the extended management circle to form the lived practice. In summary, this resulted in a picture of the current situation as well as a meaningful overview of the described vs. lived processes.

The RASIC method is also known as RAM ("Responsibility Assignment Matrix"). The individual letters stand for separate roles or responsibilities in a process step or subtask. For clarification, this is represented in a matrix in which the individual steps are listed on the left and the roles/participants are listed in the header.


R - Responsible (Who does a task?)

A - Approve (Who makes the decision? / Who authorizes?)

S - Supporting (Who supports the completion of the task?)

I - Informed (Who has to be informed about the result?)

C - Consulted (Who must be consulted before a decision is made?)

Subsequently, I presented the Blue Print on the RASIC model in a first results presentation. Derived from this, I was able to make initial suggestions for optimization and, in addition, to pass on any nuances that had been uncovered at the organizational and management levels.

Individuality for the best result

To work on new process responsibilities, it was necessary to develop a common understanding of the respective components of the RASIC model. In the process, the model could also be customized. Together, the executives made the decision that the C in the current view for their company, was not needed for further work. We then worked together on the core processes and assigned a role to each process step and the people involved in it.

In the end, it was a matter of reconciling the interests of all those responsible for the process. In the process, I dealt with contacts from all departments and was thus able to gain a comprehensive picture of the customer. 

Summary: Experience combined with new ideas

Thanks to my studies, I was once again able to practically combine the two fields of organizational development and human resources. In combination with the occurring processes in organizations, the informal and formal structures on all levels, a unique picture of the customer emerges for me. Just as unique as each client is, I also see my work as an HR Development Consultant. Inspiration can come from methods that have already been successfully applied. My goal is always to expand these with individual aspects, tailored to the needs of our clients.

The fascinating thing for me is that a RASIC model can be applied fundamentally in any industry and in any company. It also doesn't matter how large the company is.  There are also other helpful methods that offer advantages, especially in agile forms of work or in flexible structures. Here, the topic of individuality again plays a large and important role, which we are happy to address at any time.

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