From Business Targets to Business Actions
In this article we will try to demonstrate a way of thinking needed, when a business target is set to us. The first part of this text is quite generic, so it apply in ever case. In the second part, where a solution is proposed, the realization of kosmos/BOS organizational effect will be taken into account. After this short preface, let's consider a business target that has been set:
"The yearly increase of production volume, given that the workforce and equipment are already fully utilized and steady".
We will try to solve this problem by giving it a mathematical representation. So we have the so called variable "Yearly Production Volume". We cannot command the "Yearly Production Volume" to increase, because it is an intangible variable. We have to be more analytical on the target variable, by rephrasing it and saying that: We have to increase the "Number of Production Processes" per year and also to have the "Production Volume of each Process" increased. We can write this functional relation as:
"Yearly Production Volume" = f ( "Number of Production Processes",
"Production Volume of each Process" ) ................(1)
Now we have only to increase the variables "Number of Production Processes" and "Production Volume of each Process". But it's not feasible to command them to increase, because the contition we hav is that "workforce and equipment are fully utilized". We have to increase the values of these variables by other means. So we get analytical again to find the functional dependencies concerning them. In order to have an increased "Number of Production Processes" per year we have to make them run faster. We write this as:
"Number of Production Processes" = f ( "Production Processes Speed" ) .................(2)
On the other hand, an increased "Production Volume of each Process" can be achieved by preparing more detailed and accurate data for the production process. Sometimes this can help. Consider only production inefficiencies occurring by using a "bad set" of data. We write accordingly:
"Production Volume of each Processes" = f ( "Efficient Production Data" ) .................(3)
Now the initial problem becomes a problem of optimizing "Production Process Speed" and "Efficient Production Data". Let's take first the "Production Process Speed" and examine on what it depends. A production process is a series of Activities running in series or in parallel with other activities. Some of these Activities affect office work (executed by white collars) and others affect machinery (executed by blue collars). A close examination of every Activity reveals that literally:
"In an Activity, data are consumed (read) by an associate and then some data are produced (written) by the associate to be consumed in another Activity".
So, data are always moving between Activities (communicated). This data communication sometimes creates delays to the starting of activities that follow. Also delays might occur when the current Activity is not stated as closed, so that the next one can start. After that, the "Production Process Speed" depends on "Activity Execution Speed" and "Minimizing Time between Activities". We represent this functional relation as:
"Production Processes Speed" = f ( "Activity Execution Speed" ,
"Minimizing Time between Activities" ) ...............(4)
So far, by trying to summarize our analytical zeal, we have reached a situation, where we have to optimize the following variables (or entities generally) : "Efficient Production Data", "Activity Execution Speed" and "Minimizing Time between Activities". By defining the functional dependencies for the above variables, we have:
"Efficient Production Data" = f ( "Activity Documentation" ,
"Activity Validation" ,
"Activity Continuous Redesign" ,
"Expert Software" ,
"Experts" ) ...................(5)
"Activity Execution Speed" = f ( "Activity Documentation" ,
"Activity Validation" ,
"Activity Continuous Redesign" ,
"Expert Software" ,
"Experts" ) ...................(6)
"Minimizing Time Between Activities" = f ( "Fast Activity Assignment" ,
"Best Activity Scheduling" ) ...................(7)
At this point we have defined a set of functional relations, having a set of dependent entities, on the right side that is possible to affect. Or in other words give to them optimal values. The condition that permits us to say that this set is a tangible one is the kosmos/BOS software. Let's have a closer look at these entities:
In kosmos/BOS the expert, who is assigned an activity, has access to the documentation supplied with this activity (simple text, HTML or other available file or files). On the other hand, experienced experts can suppement this documentation with their real life suggestions, enriching thus the company's "documented know-how". This documentation is also versioned. Eventualy, by using kosmos/BOS every action taken by company associates is fully documented and alive (a real-time operation).
In kosmos/BOS every Activity closes by pressing the "forward" button. In this case the associate confirms that the data produced (written to the database) are the desired and correct ones. But, are they? Here is where the validation comes into action to check that the data produced are of the specified quantity and quality.
"Activities Continuous Redesign"
When kosmos/BOS monitors and coordinates company's processes, a big amount of data are automatically produced. These data concern date, time, role, activity, process and whatever other entity they are related to. These data supply all the information required to the "internal processes" section of the company's Balanced Scorecard (BSC). The company managers can use this information in order to continuously change and optimize the process and its activities. Literally the "process redesign" can be as ordinary, as the approval of a new company supplier.
The quick and efficient data production, during an activity execution, is highly aided by the use of "expert software". This software is used for solving highly expertise problems concerning physical, mathematical, chemical or other scientific fields. kosmos/BOS can call these programs if they have an "open" architecture. A preferred condition for such programs is to permit "data feed" automatically and then "produce data" in a format permitting automatic "read-in". These features can reduce time and eliminate mistakes.
Here, as an expert we mean any associate. The contition we discused above states that the workforce remains as it is. Experience from companies that utilize kosmos/BOS has shown that experts give their best to the company team. This is because every expert contribution to the process is publicly known to the rest of the team. Documentation for the activities is also supplied. Validation, when closing an activity, ensures better performance for the expert.
"Fast Activity Assignment"
In kosmos/BOS as soon as an activity closes, control and data are immediately transferred to the following activity or activities. Additionally, other processes start time-scheduled, as defined in "planner agents". These processes also push activities immediately to the assigned associates.
"Best Activity Scheduling"
In kosmos/BOS every activity can be scheduled (i.e. define the time and the resources for its execution). This can be done manually. When massive scheduling has to be done, then an automatic optimization can be performed. This massive scheduling uses embedded optimization algorithms of kosmos/BOS, in order to schedule the activities using a set of constraints.
The classic approach to the "business target" problem would be that we take the following steps:
1) Express business target as a paragraph of text
2) Analyze the paragraph to smaller, simpler sentences
3) Rewrite every simple sentence by giving it a "quantitative expression"
4) Set those "quantitative expressions" as targeted metrics
5) Assign every targeted metric to "responsible managers"
6) Repetitive meeting participations of "responsible associates" reveal the actions to be taken in order targeted metrics to be accomplished.
In the last step (meetings) we decide what the necessary actions to be taken are. Ok, but how would these actions be implemented? Has the company the required organizational infrastructure to control what is proposed as actions? In an company that hasn't detailed named Processes and Activities, it's not possible to focus on the exact Activities and change them. In a company that has no documentation on what exactly happens in an Activity, it is difficult to change and improve it.
Eventually, whatever the business target is, it leads to certain "working changes". These "working changes" are easier implemented, when the company has a detailed and organized mapping of every aspect concerning "human work". kosmos/BOS can help a company to fully cartographize its Activities and then proceed to a full real-time choreography of these Activities. Later on, changes required by the "real time working world" are easily implemented as "real time changes to the existing choreography".