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About ERP Systems

Save the Date!

Michael Roman - Monday, April 06, 2015

Assemble an Innovative Inventory of Business Tools and Processes

 A Three-Prong Approach to Operational Improvements

 

  

Save the date! 

You won't want to miss the opportunity to participate in this seminar that will cover multiple facets of operational excellence and efficiency for manufacturers. Presenters with various areas of expertise in working with manufacturers will share insights, tools, tips and takeaways that you can implement immediately for operational improvements. 

Mark your calendar for Thursday, May 7 and keep an eye out for more details
in the coming weeks.

 

Topics to Include:

 

Management as Leadership
Presented by John Purcell of Transform

If you've always heard that leadership and management are different, you will be interested in John's perspective that management is leadership. We'll also discuss getting results as you build relationships and why both are critical. We'll also paint a picture of what a healthy leadership team looks like.

 

Effective Accounting Processes: Grow Profits, Reduce Risks

Presented by Iliana Malinov, CPA of HLB Gross Collins, P.C.

Business leaders must continually identify opportunities to grow build upon existing profits. Often there are untapped resources and overlooked opportunities within a business that can be unleashed, creating the opportunity for increased profitability. Effective navigation of industry-specific regulations, documentation requirements, tax credits and deductions is critical for manufacturers. Improve your bottom line through some simple planning steps and available opportunities that are often overlooked.

 

Operations & Supply Chain Management
Presented by Mike Roman, CPIM of Manufacturing Practices, Inc.

Improving a company's bottom line does not happen magically. Companies earn it through smart improvements. Smart improvements come from smart people using smart technology in smart ways. ERP is smart technology and Operation Excellence fosters its smart use through KPIs (measuring results that keep people involved), and Operations and Supply Chain Management mastery which Manufacturing Practices calls planning for success. This presentation is a must see for C-Level people, interested in improving the value of their company and the value contributed by their employees.

Save the date: 

May 7, 2015

11:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.

At the Office of HLB Gross Collins, P.C.

More details will be forthcoming

Sponsored by:
HLB Gross Collins, P.C serves clients both locally and around the globe.    
  
  

Keep People Involved

Michael Roman - Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Keep People Involved™

Years ago, as Operations and IT Manager for a small company, I was charged with finding a consultant to help us through an improvement project. One thing we learned that was entirely counter-intuitive was how easy it was to change the corporate culture – in less than a year! The consultant implemented a process to measure individual performance within the company, and the positive transformation in the organization was truly remarkable.

The process was a deceptively simple, inexpensive, and powerful tool called Key Performance Indicators (KPI). KPI help change the way people do their jobs, approach their day, and deal with daily roadblocks. KPI help people focus on the BIG PICTURE. KPI help people distinguish the important from the trivial, the “must be done” from the “could be done”, and allow employees to set their own priorities. When the boss reviews performance charts, questions follow. People begin to learn the importance of those measures. When people focus on activities and apply what they learn from the KPI, good things happen.

KPI differ by industry; and KPI are not just for individuals.

  • Inventory Turns is a very important KPI for manufacturing and distribution companies
  • For telemarketers, the number of phones calls made is an important KPI
  • For retail, the average dollars per sale is a good KPI
  • For accounts payable departments, the number of AP Days outstanding is important
  • For accounts receivable departments, the number of AR Days outstanding is important
  • For managers, employee turnover is an important KPI

Using KPI reaps great rewards, and the secret lies in its focus on the business scorecard activities of revenue, costs, and cash.

Displaying KPI results is a vital part of the process. For example, some companies post the results of inventory accuracy counts with several positive results: 

  1. People understand that the activity is an important company function
  2. People take pride in their work, because everyone knows how they are measured
  3. KPI provide a level of control that is not apparent when those values are not measured

During our implementation, everyone including the president had KPI, and we posted performance to those KPI. The fact that the “person at the top” reported measurements had a unifying effect on the entire company. We all understood that everyone had a role to play and our measurement criteria. Everyone did! We felt that since the “BIG GUY” showed us his, we would show him ours, and we accepted the fact that things were changing. We wanted to join the crowd; consequently, the corporate culture changed almost overnight.

KPIs reflect the performance to company policy. The easiest way to implement KPI is to start slowly. Choose a couple of performance measurements that are important to your industry and make sure that they produce the desired outcome. You can always add additional KPIs after this simple tool demonstrates its value. The most important idea to remember about KPI is that they Keep People Involved™

Q and A with Mike and Jerry

Michael Roman - Thursday, March 19, 2015

A few weeks ago, Jerry Tiarsmith, VP of Operations at Manufacturing Practices, Inc. and I sat down for a Q&A session.

Q. Mike, Manufacturing Practices, Inc. (MPI) recently had its 10th anniversary. What were the reasons for initially forming the company?

I saw a number of fundamental flaws in the manner that ERP Software companies sold their products. Their strength is that they explain what ERP Systems will do FOR companies. The major flaw is that ERP Software companies do not explain what ERP Systems will do TO companies. Manufacturing Practices, Inc. (MPI) explains to companies what ERP software will do both FOR and TO a company, how to use the ERP tool to manage the organization, and helps clients integrate their ERP System INTO the business. A recent client found success with our efforts and in gratitude, wrote the Preface to our book, The Turnaround.

Q. We often learn from our mistakes – what do you consider to be your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

I have made several mistakes, some from ignorance, some from omissions, and some for being unable to “reach” clients. It is hard NOT to make mistakes from ignorance but those are rectifiable. It is forgivable to make mistakes from omissions and those too are rectifiable. Nevertheless, I take being unable to reach people as a weakness in me. To counter that short-coming, I stay current with the consulting industry, with the Supply Chain and Operations Management Body of Knowledge, and have weekly conferences with clients to assess progress, address issues, and to ensure we are all in agreement with the course we are taking.

Q. On the other hand, what do you consider to be your greatest success and why?

This might sound strange, but the greatest pride comes, not from the successes that the owners or the C-Level teams achieve, but from the people that do the grunt work for these clients, their employees. Walking through a plant, seeing the benefits of everyone’s hard work, and hearing those machine operators, inventory people, production people, planners, buyers, and supervisors, say, “Mike we really did something wonderful, didn’t we?”, fills me with pride. A great satisfaction is that they helped their organization improve, and they now know how to create a project and continue to improve the company’s profits and reduce the stresses associated with performing their day-to-day activities.

Q. How long have you been involved with APICS, in what capacity and why should that be important to your clients?

I have been ‘involved’ with APICS since 1981. I have been a member of APICS since 1984. In those 30+ years, I served as a chapter member, a member of the chapter’s management team, as President of the Chapter (Atlanta), and as an instructor for the Body-of-Knowledge (BOK). I also served as a member of the team that helped create the ‘awareness’ of a missing piece of the BOK, the Basics of Supply Chain Management. I now serve as a writer of the test questions used on the certification exams (my second committee). I feel honored to have been able to serve this group of professionals. More importantly, I am thankful for being able to sit at the feet of the founders and BOK developers like George Plossl, Hank Jordan, Don Frank, James Cox, and Eliyahu M. Goldratt and the Oli Wight organization. It is said that you only get out of an organization what you put into it. That is not a correct statement. The opportunities I received from my association with these giants and the APICS organization pale in comparison to what I have learned and can share with my clients.

Q. How have your relationships with such industry giants as Oliver Wight organization, George Plossl, and Eliyahu (Eli) M. Goldratt, among others helped shape your approaches to consulting?

Though I never met Oli Wight, who died in 1983, I have had dealings with his organization. In my opinion, they are probably the best education company with whom, I have ever had the pleasure of doing business. They are superb at creating an understanding of what business management systems are all about. I model my classes along their successful approach path.

My relationship with George Plossl was very different. George was a consultant’s consultant. George was a contributor to the APICS BOK and to the development of the APICS Society as well. I was fortunate to have George as a mentor for a number of years. During tenure and as President of the Atlanta APICS Chapter, we did a roast of George, recorder the experience for them, and George and his wife Marion both told me it was the “highlight” of George’s career. A comedian and double-talker presented himself as a protégé of George from early in his career. Attendees at the event were actually rolling on the floor with laughter. George helped me to understand that the APICS BOK is what is created in ERP Software. George also helped me with my first “successful” implementation, in 1989. His business partner, Don Frank started that mentoring process and introduced me to George.  Don and I were developing a textbook and an ERP Seminar when he died, in 2004. I am still unable to finish the book and the seminar. Regardless, Don was one of those mentors that saw more promise in me than I did.

Dr. Goldratt (Eli) was a challenger. It seemed that he took delight in making me feel uncomfortable and comfortable at the same time. In one sentence, he could both challenge and complement me and he did several times. A sentence he said, drove me to write the ERP book, The Turnaround. He said to me, to paraphrase, ‘you have a lot of knowledge in you. Just when are you going to get off your lazy butt and show someone what you got?’ Unfortunately, I missed completing the book before he died. Now, procrastination is a pet peeve, something that, at times, puts a sharp edge to my dealings with customers who also procrastinate. 

Hank Jordan taught the art of Inventory Management and tempted me to become a consultant before I thought I was ready. Neville May, worked with me to understand MAPICS, an IBM mrp system. There were also mentors who taught operations and supply chain management when I worked in their facilities, early in my career.

I am fortunate to also have had family-member mentors. My father and his father (both Ford Motor Company employees) were my earliest mentors. Both taught the art of question asking, a very necessary characteristic for a consultant.

These mentors formed me into what is necessary helps others succeed. They paved the road to help me understand what I know. I believe this is my strength as a consultant. By the way, I hate the word consultant. It implies something that is not true. People think that consultants are ‘experts’ that have the right answers. These giants taught me that that is a fallacy. These hero/mentors taught that consultants have the right questions. That is why my title is “Business Capabilities Architect.” 

I Think I Can

Michael Roman - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Blog by Jerry Tiarsmith, VP Operations, Manufacturing Practices, Inc.

The old maxim, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you will be proven right,” reflects the importance of one’s mindset to future outcomes, good or bad.  The children’s story of The Little Train That Could taught us that perseverance and determination contribute to success.  Athletic team coaches know the value of a “warrior mindset;” the difference between winning and losing more often reflects the mental preparedness of the players rather than the relative physicality and athleticism of the opposing teams. Military combat leaders know that victory (and failure) begins in the mind!

Manufacturers must possess a positive mindset toward successful outcomes. Clearly, the stakes are high; people’s livelihoods are at risk and we are not here to discuss children’s stories or motivational platitudes. Whenever businesses fail, reputations as well as many individuals, families, and communities suffer great consequences. “Failure is not an option!” Yes, the company organization, at all levels, must exhibit perseverance and develop a fierce determination to succeed in the arena of competition, but that may not be enough. Sometimes, companies require outside expertise, particularly when they lack the internal experience and resources required to initiate major change.

That fact proves especially true for many manufacturers in relation to the selection and implementation of the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.  Improper ERP implementations result in cost overruns, take too long, and prove too disruptive, even if considered “successful.” Companies that lack the necessary internal experience to manage the selection and implementation processes experience significant problems. Executives may strive to develop a thorough plan in anticipation, but their project management and process objectives fail to align adequately with reality. Poorly defined processes or an insufficient understanding of needed resources required for a timely and cost-efficient implementation may be the culprits, but many companies simply do not know what questions to ask of the vendor/sales rep or how to interpret the (often obfuscated and sometimes inadequate) answers they receive from the vendor’s implementation team. Poor ERP deployment results from the following: insufficient system pilot testing, the failure to input needed or correct data, the inadequate knowledge transfer from vendor to company employees, and yields sunk costs in a system that never sees full implementation.

The consultants at Manufacturing Practices, Inc. possess the requisite experience, knowledge, and resource capabilities to help guide your next ERP system selection and implementation processes. Our consultants successfully implemented over 70 ERP systems in companies much like yours. We require our consultants to receive training and earn professional certifications in the APICS body of knowledge; the very same body of knowledge most often used in the architectural design of ERP systems. We are proud members of APICS; the most widely recognized professional association for supply chain and operations management in the world. Our firm abides by the code of professional ethics established by the Institution of Management Consultants. Manufacturing Practices, Inc. is a veteran-owned and veteran-staffed company that offers scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solutions to meet client needs.  

COMPLACENCY KILLS

Michael Roman - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

COMPLACENCY KILLS  by Jerry Tiarsmith, VP Operations, Manufacturing Practices, Inc.

Complacency kills; a simple but true statement. One writer described complacency as “the enemy of intelligence.” The typical definition of complacency (a noun) often includes words such as a feeling of satisfaction or security, unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like. My guess is that most manufacturing executives would not describe their business using the word complacency or complacent (an adjective). They are, after all, hardworking, caring, and concerned individuals trying to do right by their employees and families. We get it, we really do!

Are some company management teams complacent? Yes! Do they recognize the fact? Not some we see. So how do companies exhibit complacent tendencies? One of the best indicators is when a CEO acknowledges the company’s process problems and then dismisses any concerns with the statement, “But, we are making a profit!” On consulting engagements, we often hear CEOs and senior managers using the term, “tribal knowledge,” and doing so proudly. That makes us cringe. “Tribal knowledge” highlights a process, or design flaw, and maybe both! It indicates a probable out of control process. The resulting variations create an inability to calculate accurate product costs. At the very least, a reliance on “tribal knowledge” exposes a company to unnecessary risk and creates a competitive advantage for “the other guy.” By allowing front-line “tribal knowledge” to persist, a CEO (and his management team) remains complacent regarding the bottom line – just because they are “still making money.”

Another form of complacency involves companies that become reliant upon the use of technology in lieu of standard Operations and Supply Chain Management training & education. Creating additional work for employees, without enriching the work (i.e., gaining user buy-in), creates a complacent and demoralized workforce. Far from empowering employees, wrongly depending upon technology helps create or reinforces the impression of distrust. If employees are smart enough to figure out how to work around incomplete or ineffective processes and design flaws, they are smart enough to train to do the job you ask of them and to do it well. Good pay and benefits are a poor substitute for increased responsibility and participatory decision-making. Those ought to exist as employee satisfaction and engagement processes.

Manufacturing Practices, Inc. consultants assist small- to mid-sized manufacturing and distribution companies to unlock unrealized value in their businesses through the effective use of their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. We also see how complacency negatively affects ERP systems. Much like any business management system, garbage in, means garbage out, and ERP systems prove no different. As an example, failure to input an accurate Bill of Materials (BOM) to the ERP system results in a system that can do little to produce meaningful reports to help management make effective procurement and production decisions. The mere installation of an ERP system does not guarantee an improved decision-making process. It takes time and commitment throughout the organization to enter complete and correct data and transaction information. Technology does not replace the human factor, judgment, nor common sense. An ERP system is not an autopilot, a plug and play app, or a default management decision-making system. It is a management decision-making support system, a very capable tool when combined with proper understanding and deployment. Successful Management Teams create it upon the groundwork of Operations and Supply Chain education and procedure based ERP training. Such a deployment almost guarantees its proper use.

Complacency kills! Root it out of your business to improve your competitiveness and bottom line. Manufacturing Practices, Inc. can show you the way! 

Manufacturing and National Security

Michael Roman - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

By Jerry Tiarsmith, VP Operations, Manufacturing Practices, Inc.


I read an interesting article. It noted that for the first time China’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP) exceeded that of the United Sates. My strategic interest in China began in the mid-1970s. At that time, China ranked amongst the poorest of the world’s nations, but I believed then that China, a “sleeping dragon,” would emerge as a formidable foe in the near future.

 

China forcefully declared its interest in territorial expansion and regional dominance in 1979 when it invaded Vietnam. Despite overwhelming military superiority, the Chinese achieved little. If nothing else, the conflict highlighted problems in Chinese manufacturing: a lack of standardization, poor quality control, and little understanding of logistics, just to name a few. The Chinese worked hard to correct those problems. Since then, Chinese military technologies and capabilities have dramatically improved.

 

Today, Chinese companies account for three of the world’s top ten companies by annual revenue. In contrast, only Wal-Mart (2nd) and Exxon (5th) represent the US in that group. In 2007, GM led the list, once dominated by the likes of IBM, GM, and Ford. Apple, the technology darling, occupies the 16th position while GM slipped to number 23. Regarding trade, the US imports more than four times the goods from China than it exports. This generates a tremendous trade imbalance favoring China. China also holds more than $1.23T in US debt obligations on which it collects significant interest payments. These hard currency flows from the US help fuel China’s growth and tend to diminish US domestic growth.

 

Other reports note a slow-down in China’s growth rate from a 40-year average of 8% to 7.3%. America’s recent growth rate remains slightly above 2%. If these numbers continue, what could we expect in the next forty years? Using simple analytics (i.e.; the Rule of 72), we extrapolate trends that show China’s economy potentially doubling every ten years over the next forty years while the US economy doubles only once in that same time frame. That means that by the year 2054 the Chinese GDP could approach $240T, greatly dwarfing that of the United States at $30T.

 

While an unsavory thought for many, China already wages war against the United States. A war fought in the realm of intellectual property, on the battlefield of economics and in cyberspace, and one that the US is losing! Some wounds appear self-inflicted. American manufacturing suffers, in part, from poorly conceived governmental policies regarding taxation, trade, regulation, and education. As a result of those policies, the US hollowed out its manufacturing sector over the past forty (or more) years, businesses increased off-shoring activities, neglected the domestic development of critical skills and tradecrafts, and struggled under costly government-mandated burdens. American manufacturing became less competitive. This must change!

 

At Manufacturing Practices, Inc., we witnessed illiterate, low-wage Chinese workers taking great pride in the aesthetic quality of the work they produced. Their work ethic, enthusiasm, and dedication prove commendable. One only has to recall the mass choreographies of the Beijing Olympics; precision performances by thousands designed to impress (and, perhaps intimidate) the world. These performances proclaimed China’s arrival as a major force on the world’s stage, one that includes industrial production. China uses American universities to help educate the next generation of Chinese computer literate, techno-savvy, and highly competitive minded business leaders, the same ones who will ensure China’s global economic dominance, a position once enjoyed by the United States. Americans must relearn the lesson that a strong manufacturing base makes for a stronger, healthier economy and a wealthier, more productive middle class.

 

This is one reason why Manufacturing Practices, Inc. assists small- to mid-sized manufacturing and distribution companies. Our proprietary processes help C-level management understand and access the hidden value in their ERP systems. We help clients unlock the ability to enhance the speed and efficacy of management decision-making through better use of their ERP system. Our proven methods enable management to implement continuous improvement programs that refine processes, improve procedures, and empower employees through Lean and other methodologies. As a result, our clients gain a significant competitive advantage, leading to increased revenue growth, improved cash flow, and significant cost reductions. We believe that Operational Excellence comes first from an effective implementation and deployment of a business management system. We remain committed to our clients’ successes. This has been the hallmark of our company since its inception.


What Worries Manufacturing Executives

Michael Roman - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Companies worry about shop floor throughput but change shop schedules before completing them.  Companies do not properly define specifications for suppliers but worry about supplier quality.  Companies miss customer shipment dates because they misunderstand shop floor loading concepts. 

All of these are disturbing events.  However, something more disturbing is happening in the majority of small and mid-sized manufacturing that is correctable with minimal disruption and chaos.  This “disturbing thing” costs companies millions of dollars annually.  This “disturbing thing” is the misunderstanding of the proper use of an ERP system. 

This misunderstanding, leads to the major issue that causes companies to fail in the ERP implementation process.  Research published by firms like KPMG, the Standish Group, and others shows that 61% of companies fail in properly facing the challenges of the work before them.  Moreover, the results are costly. 

ERP Implementations commonly fail to deliver the anticipated benefits and requested services; these projects have huge cost over runs; projects fail to meet implementation schedules, and worst of all, some companies abandon the ERP project altogether.  It takes little effort to prepare properly for the ERP system implementation.

The most important effort to thwart this problem is the commitment and leadership from the C-Level team to create necessary expectations for the company.  This means that the leadership of the company has to understand ERP, develop the implementation criteria and commitment to provide hands-on oversight of the ERP system deployment with the user community.

Education about what ERP is and what it will do both for and to an organization is necessary at both executive and user levels.  It creates a common understanding of what is necessary when companies use an ERP system. 

Something else many companies miss is the benefits and understanding of the application of Lean Thinking.  Such a philosophy assists organizations in creating processes that are clean, efficient, and self-sustaining.

The last activity to aid an implementation is a proper project management activity.  This keeps the project on track. 

Failure to follow these simple tasks costs manufacturers more in money, productivity, throughput, customer satisfaction, and worker morale than all other problems manufacturing executives spend their time in daily worries and battles.

Manufacturing Practices, Inc. is a Management Consulting firm that works with small and mid-sized manufacturing organizations.  ERP Systems that C-Level teams use confidently to make important business decisions is the product that Manufacturing Practices delivers to these organizations.   

Our proprietary processes give organizations a common understanding of ERP System capabilities.  Our proprietary processes educate C-Level and users teams independently to understand what ERP Systems will do both to and for an organization.  Our proprietary processes create users that understand why ERP data needs to be timely, accurate, and complete.  Our proprietary processes make ERP Systems key to organizations’ success.   

ERP & LEAN

Michael Roman - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

By Jerry Tiarsmith, VP Operations, Manufacturing Practices, Inc.

Proponents of LEAN processes often seem at competitive odds with those who support the use of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. While we at Manufacturing Practices, Inc. (MPI), favor the use of ERP systems by our clients, we also recommend complementary LEAN processes to effect discreet process improvements where needed.

LEAN processes improvements differ dramatically from ERP system deployments. Lower level management personnel and frontline supervisors typically conceive and execute LEAN projects.  LEAN processes most often focus on small scale, tactical process improvement to eliminate various forms of waste from that process. More than just a process, an ERP system acts as an important management decision support system that holistically integrates key corporate functions. This integration helps reduce internal communication barriers, enhance cross-functional management awareness, and speed the management decision-time cycle process to provide a competitive advantage.

The assorted benefits of incorporating LEAN processes within an ERP system deployment prove important, but empowering employees to support needed change and pursue continuous improvements to productivity are priceless. We see ERP as the “Go To” System when making decisions about resources (labor, cash, materials) necessary to run the organization.  We depend on ERP to determine which monetary investments will deliver the biggest bang for the buck.  ERP also helps us understand which markets need a focused sales campaign and where to position inventory for better customer service.

One cannot simply describe ERP systems as a process methodology. In effect, ERP systems connect the strategic vision and business planning of the corporate executive team to the execution of the planned production processes and to the control systems on the factory floor. 

MPI Management News

Michael Roman - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Manufacturing Practices, Inc. management team changed much in the past several months.  These new responsibilities have taken time away from many commitments.  As such, attempts to write blogs, work with veteran projects, and spend time with my family and friends are almost futile.  Even my dog snarled at me on Friday when I arrived home hours after her feeding time!  I also have not been a good leader in making the introductions of our new team.  Sorry!

Dan Valentine is our most recent addition.  Dan is a retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel where he spent time as an infantryman and an aviator.  For the past 20 years, Dan held roles in sales and sales management.  He first began to work with us and to teach us how to align potential customers’ concerns with the value we offer at Manufacturing Practices.  After some frustration with my interactions with potential clients, Dan decided that his commitment needed to become a long-term effort.  It seems I was having a hard time not using my sharp stick to point out areas that needed improvement to my prospects but I am doing much better now. Dan’s role and title is VP of Sales. 

Jerry Tiarsmith joined Manufacturing Practices as VP of Operations. As a member of the armed services, he served in the surface warfare and special operations units of the Navy. He also spent four years as an Army infantry officer. Jerry uses this experience to help clients create a viable team vision. Following his military service, Jerry worked for the financial management company Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. This experience taught Jerry to understand clients’ needs. Jerry’s experience as a college instructor enables him to follow the mantra of Manufacturing Practices to help clients align tactical approaches to achieve a strategic vision. As a volunteer, he helps veterans, the community, and his church. This highlights the Core Values of Manufacturing Practices to practice responsible corporate citizenship.

Welcome to Manufacturing Practices, men.

We walk the same walk internally that we use with clients. With the end in mind, we meet one day a week to achieve a common understanding of what ERP is and is not. We also use that day to create a common language and a focus on our policies.  We are creating a set of standard processes for executing our policies with potential and signed customers.  The benefit of this is that these efforts enable us to achieve an alignment of responsibilities, commitments and expectations for Manufacturing Practices. After achieving consensus of what our goals are, the effort to perform the education, develop our marketing and sales material and strengthen our procedures is simple.  We all understand that this journey will never end.  We continue to make improvements along the way, just as our customers do when we focus our tactical approach to achieve their strategic goals.

Make Better Decisions

Michael Roman - Sunday, August 24, 2014
Make Better Decisions 
by Jerry Tiarsmith, VP Operations, Manufacturing Practices, Inc.

Good leaders intuitively understand that decisions, and not their conditions, determine outcomes.  Leaders thrive on change, they relish the challenges change presents, and they respond accordingly.

Let us examine the decision-making ability of a fighter pilot engaged in aerial combat to create a common frame of reference.  It is a given that there is a more rapid pace of change in this scenario.  There is the nature of operating in a three-dimensional environment with the ultimate consequences of battle between modern aircraft probably greater than and more impactful than those made in corporate offices.  The pilot relies upon extensive flight and aerial-combat training, complex computer systems that receive a constant stream of data from on-board combat systems and flight controls, then synthesize and analyze that data to produce firing solutions to defeat an equally determined enemy.  

The evolution of these complex systems is traceable to the ideas and theories of Colonel John R. Boyd, USAF (Ret.), as both a Korean and Vietnam War veteran.  Boyd first developed the Energy-Maneuverability Theory (or E-M Theory) that allowed for the quantitative comparison of existing and planned aircraft with respect to all factors affecting performance (i.e.; weight, thrust, lift, etc.).  The upshot of Boyd’s work is that he rescued a flailing production program for the F-15 fighter and generated interest in the development of a lightweight fighter, the Air Force’s F-16 and the Navy/Marine Corps’ F-18 Hornet. 

Boyd developed a decision-time cycle logic bearing the odd name of “OODA" loop based on his fighter pilot experience in the Korean conflict and his interest in E-M Theory.  E-M Theory considers time as the ultimate parameter and that an entity, from the simplest to the most complex human organizations, operates in an environment of continuous change to which it must respond.  OODA loop decision cycle consists of Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action steps. Boyd hypothesized that the pilot who cycled faster than his opponent did gained the advantage and defeated his opponent.  Over the last fifty or so years, Boyd’s theory became ingrained in military strategy, business strategy (the Shewhart cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act), and used by courtroom litigators with the addition of game theory and cognitive science.

Yes, this is interesting, but how does it relate to you?

A properly implemented ERP System does for a company what both the OODA Loop and E-M Theory do for a fighter pilot. At Manufacturing Practices, Inc., we assist Manufacturing companies select, implement and properly deploy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems as a holistic management decision-making support system. Such systems enable those business entities to process business data faster and provide a distinct competitive advantage in the complex and fast-paced environment of change.  With our approach, no fighter pilot experience, OODA Loop training, or E-M Theory education is necessary. Our proven approach focuses teams on what works and how to make it better.