Process optimization - but not according to book
Many companies decide to get external consultants on board. Because an external view often helps to put processes in a completely new light and to reveal optimization potentials. This is how I came to our customer in the automotive supply industry as a Process Consultant.
For me, production plants have always been exciting. To observe how individual parts become a complex component or even an entire car or similar is for me an artwork of modern engineering. At the same time, the production staff do their best every day to ensure the high quality of finished products. This interaction fascinates me. I like to remember various factory tours in which the robot arms performed their recurring choreographies to set a weld seam or move a part into the intended position.
Our customer is a long-established supplier for the automotive industry. Since 1992, vehicle hinges, door stops and special products such as oil pumps and aluminium components for the automotive industry have been manufactured at their site in Saxony. Additional to prototyping, the extended field of competence also includes small series production. Besides the tradition, this customer also attaches great importance to innovative strength. Therefore, a major focus is on the manufacture of stepless hinges in the automotive sector and 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.
Process Consultant, Project Manager
Organisational & HR Consulting
The challenge: process optimization
In recent years, our client has had various owners and multiple changes in company form. In the end, the entire competencies and a large part of the tasks were organised centrally by the parent company. A renewed change of ownership turned the company back into a GmbH, so that all the outsourced tasks had to be reintegrated and taken over by the company itself.
Since commissions in the automotive sector are only awarded if specific certifications are fulfilled, the company had to have itself certified in this new constellation as soon as possible. The existing process descriptions were used as an aid and, due to various factors, were partially adopted from the group processes 1:1.
The production and operational processes as well as the responsibilities described according to certification criteria represented a formal reality. In practice, the challenges were reflected in unclear responsibilities and processes that could not be represented. In addition, areas within the company were given tasks that were not originally intended to be located within them. This in turn led to overloading of individual structures and participants in some places. The disclosure of these topics was a first step towards ensuring clarity, a sense of responsibility and structure.
For me, production plants have always been exciting. To observe how individual parts become a complex component or even an entire car or similar is for me an artwork of modern engineering.
The first step involved a responsibility matrix that clearly shows which person is involved in which process. This clarity should also be developed for individual process steps. The roles of the person involved were also clarified so that it became clear, for example, whether the person is responsible in a process step or whether he or she is taking on a supporting task.
In consultation with management, I recommended the use of the RASIC* model and subsequently developed blueprints that can be used universally in all processes. First, we developed a model based on the existing process descriptions, which were then supplemented by detailed discussions with the department heads and process managers in the extended management circle. In summary, this resulted in a picture of the current situation and a meaningful overview of the written vs. lived processes.
The RASIC method is also referred to as RAM ("Responsibility Assignment Matrix"). The individual letters stand for separate roles or responsibilities in a process step or a subtask. For clarification, this is depicted in a matrix with the individual steps on the left and roles/participants 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 needs to be informed about the result?)
C - Consulted (Who must be consulted before a decision is taken?)
Then I presented the blueprint of the RASIC model in a first presentation of the results. Based on this, I was able to make initial optimization suggestions and pass on additional nuances that had been uncovered at the organizational and management levels.
Individuality for the best result
In order to work on new process responsibilities, it was necessary to develop a common understanding of the respective components of the RASIC model. The model could also be adapted individually. Together, the managers made the decision that the C in the current view was not needed for their company in the further processing. Subsequently, we worked on the core processes together and assigned a role to each process step and the persons involved in it.
The final result was to reconcile the interests of all those responsible for the process. I had to deal with the contact persons from all departments and was thus able to get a comprehensive picture of the customer. From this point of view, the department heads were my team members, with whom I worked on their processes as part of this project.
Conclusion: Experience combined with new ideas
During my studies, my focus was always on human resources. Through my various insights into automotive companies and at ARTS, I was able to extend the purely theoretical considerations by practical experience. The interaction with the processes occurring in organizations, the informal and formal structures at all levels results in a unique picture of the customer for me. Just as unique as every client is, I also see my work as a consultant. The inspiration can come from already successfully applied methods. It is my aim to extend these with individual aspects, tailored to the needs of our clients.
The fascinating thing for me is that this RASIC model can be applied fundamentally in every industry and at every company. It doesn't matter how large the company is. But there are also other helpful methods that offer advantages, especially in agile forms of work or in flexible structures. Here again the topic of individuality plays a large and important role.
Facts and figures
Optimization and acceleration of processes through clear structures and responsibilities.
Optimization of processes in 32 weeks
RASIC Method: Responsibility Model for Process Optimization