In recent years, manufacturing companies have implemented a number of different methodologies in an attempt to improve manufacturing. Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma are just two approaches that have been used to improve manufacturing and quality. These manufacturing improvement projects have been used in manufacturing operations, quality, supply chain, and sometimes accounting. These projects appeal to the management team because they address the core operations of the company. They begin to establish a culture of continuous process improvement.
Many of the companies that have seen positive results are realizing that they can take process improvement into other areas such as product development, sales and marketing, customer service, and all accounting. They are realizing a need for a continuous process improvement culture.
This new culture will affect anyone that has contact with information. This includes engineering, marketing, sales, customer service, supply chain, shop floor, quality, warehouse, technical service, and accounting. It involves all of the employees, the customers, and the suppliers.
The new culture should be supported by the entire organization. How do you organize to support this culture?
The culture needs to be driven by top management . The culture of “continuous business process Improvement “ should be supported by a process improvement playbook that is included in the annual business plan.
The culture should be supported by a matrix organization aligned by major business process. The organization should include the following:
- Steering Committee of the top management of the company that are to be affected by the current year’s business process improvement projects
- Chief Process Officer (CPO) that is responsible for planning and managing the execution of all BPI projects
- Process Owners that are responsible designing and implementing the approved BPI projects
The Chief Process Officer(CPO) becomes the major focal point for all process improvement projects in the company. This role may be filled by the CIO, or it may be a new position filled by a leader in the business user community.
The Process Owners are selected by the Steering Committee and the CPO. They are responsible for insuring that their processes are continuously being improved. They manage their user organization to be educated on current, new and best practices for the industry.
The organization is normally a matrix organization that supports the BPI process. It does not replace the primary company organization.
The process definition will vary from company to company. Rather than have functional process definitions, a company may decide to have a process owner for quote to order, or order to cash, or procure to pay.
The organization becomes the clearing house for all BPI activities in the company. They have an annual plan and each project can be measured based on its affect on business performance improvement.
Improving information business processes is a journey not a destination.