Today is Tuesday and I am way behind on my weekly blog. It is not that I have been sitting in front of the television watching my Detroit Red Wings climb in the standings now that most of the team is healthy, I have just been busy working ON my business and not IN my business.
I just finished a conference call with another consultant (Joe). Joe and I were discussing how we might work together on future projects. Joe does LEAN - Six Sigma projects. We spend about 2 hours learning how the other approaches a consulting assignment. We discussed how we defined the deliverables of the project (gains for the client), how we define goal setting within the project to show small and quick gains, we discussed the involvement of the C Level people and the involvement of the user teams. We also discussed the toolsets that we use in our activities.
I understand the LEAN - Six Sigma approach. I began and made a great deal of progress in a Just-in-Time (now called LEAN) for a manufacturing facility in the 1980s. I was also a quality manager for a tier-two automotive supplier. At that plant, we had to perform within the “tolerance” range for delivery quantities, delivery date, delivery time, delivery packing sequence, and delivery quality.
I am going to digress here and reflect for moment. In the 1980s, there were arguments within the APICS Community (http://www.apics.org) about LEAN – Six Sigma – and ERP. My mentor was one of the more vocal commentators and he said that they all were pieces of the same pie.
He said Six Sigma sets quality limits to understand when something was not “under control” regardless of whether that something was a process, activity or a manufacturing operation.
He said LEAN (JIT) was an activity that eliminated waste in something regardless of whether that something was a process, activity or a manufacturing operation.
He also said ERP was a tool for managing the interactions of the enterprise that employed processes, activities, and manufacturing operations, which Six Sigma controlled and for which LEAN methodology removed inefficiencies.
When I said these words to Joe, he laughed. He asked me if I had ever worked with George Plossl or just read his books. I told him that yes, I had read his books and yes, I worked with George. Joe then told me that we had a great deal in common. He said George was also his mentor.
Joe and I take the same approach to our projects because our efforts address the client concerns to improve company profitability. Joe and I only differ in what tools we use to focus the client. For Joe, it is the Six Sigma and Lean philosophy, and for me, the ERP System is the tool. I believe that when we work together a common voice will emerge and I believe the voice will be George Plossl.
When properly deployed, the ERP System provides an opportunity for companies to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. It provides a standard way of performing work, it formalizes the business activities, and when properly deployed, it provides a measure of the effectiveness of the activities managed by the ERP system and the people using it. A properly used ERP System contributes directly to the bottom line for whatever area the client targets.
In LEAN - Six Sigma the goal is the same: to remove the inefficiencies in the system, and then to measure whether the activity is within the target range. This creates a savings for the client and that savings increases the profits in the organization.
I am not sure when we will work together but it is comforting to know that we both had the same teacher and both have the success of the client as our short-term and long-term goals.