Friday, November 20, 2009

"Lean Manufacturing" in software ...

The term Lean Manufacturing has been around for a while, but it seems that it has been re-discovered by a few marketing teams in a few of the larger ERP systems (I hate this term ERP, but I'll use it for reference) solution providers, and I'm getting spammed about how to "make my business 'leaner'".
I have no intention to drill deep into Fordism at this point, as it is a really exhaustive topic (and well worth researching if you're unfamiliar with it) and not really suitable for an ad hoc blog post. What I will say (and to really water it down and simplify it) is that in terms of software solutions for logistics/production companies, is that the goal of any information system you implement should aim to reduce the amount of manaual work employees perform or remove the need for any manual work altogether.

The great majority of systems (ERP, SCM, MM, IS, --> insert acroynm here) capture information well (including the system the company I work for implements), but they do a poor job of automating processes or removing the "decision time" process. In other words, you collect a plethora of information about, say, what items are in your warehouse, but very few of these systems are ordering supplies for themselves (ie... when a store's shelf is empty or the supply depot is almost exhausted, very few outfits have automated re-ordering of goods in demand, and still depend upon shop assistants and students to do "inventory" or "by-site" management of goods ordering).

There are a few systems out there (not being fully used by most of their customers), that automat the sourcing process, including the contracting process, ordering process (by Demand), etc ... but for the most part, especially in this part of Europe, product chain management is extremly poor. The local giant Tesco or Hypernova or Albert should NEVER run out of something (unless it's seasonal), but they do all the time. For example, items I buy all of the time seem to run out, and isn't replaced for days, sometimes even weeks -- even when their other stores on the other side of town have a shelf full of the same goods. "Real Time" analysis and movement of items by demand shouldn't be some rare function of an information system and a comapany's procurement organization, it should be the norm.

The point is, if you are a manager of a large company needing an information system to help you capture AND improve your current production/procurement processes, just don't follow the other sheep and invest in "popular" tools (especially those subsidized by a government, cough, cough ...) ... try doing a bit more research first, and if you're completely lost, contact a professional outside of those companies to help you garner your proper requirements (it doesn't have to be me! :P) ... you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Well, this definately isn't going to help your business at all, but the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is out. If you are wondering why some of your employees may be calling in sick more often lately, or why they're not even bothering to show up to work (cough, cough), this may be the reason why.

I must say, however, that you can learn a lot about business from playing such first-person shooters, especially when playing online against other real people. 1. Team work is essential to winning. 2. Real-time communication is a major advantage, especially as it relates to information about knowing where your enemies are located. 3. Having the right-tools (Heart-beat sensor enabled rifle vs. pistol) definately can make the difference between pawning some noob or getting stabbed.

Just think about it ... I'm off to, hmmm ... work on some business proposal for a customer :P (if you're playing this on the PS3, let me know, I'll be happy to skool you online!)