Brainstorming

Brainstorming and Cost Improvement

The brainstorming technique is attributed to Alex Faickney Osborne as explained in his 1953 book, Applied Imagination. The technique arose from frustration with the inability of employees to develop creative solutions for problems. Personal experience suggests this is a valuable tool when deployed appropriately and the guidelines are followed. If we populate the team with diverse backgrounds we can see ideas build on other ideas very rapidly.

To really find the areas for cost improvement we must let go of our mental impediments to uncovering these opportunities. It is very probable that there are plenty of cost improvement possibilities. However, in our daily work execution we may not find the time to free our minds to consider these possibilities. A brainstorming exercise can go far to fuel the imagination, to open a “space” to think laterally at what may be possible. We have successfully employed this technique to:

Reduce costs Generate intellectual property Reduce weight for … Continue reading

Reducing Cost – Homegrown Way.

To really find the areas for cost improvement we must let go of our mental impediments to uncovering these opportunities. It is very probable that there are plenty of cost improvement possibilities. However, in our daily work execution we may not find the time to free our minds to consider these possibilities. A brainstorming exercise can go far to fuel the imagination, to open a “space” to think laterally at what may be possible. We have successfully employed this technique to: Continue reading

WBS and Project Budgets

Recently, I was in a conversation with a project manager whose organization had just made a radical alteration to their manner of handling work breakdown structure. There is a connection between the work breakdown structure and the financial tracking for the project. Ideally, there is an immediate connection between the WBS and the expenditures for the individual WBS element.

We have written about the WBS and demonstrated the use of tools such as WBS Planner in past blog posts. We demonstrated how the WBS is the breakdown of the activities for a portion and ultimately for the entire project – at least by the phase in the life cycle.

However, that is not end of the usefulness of the WBS.  Besides being able to assign specific individuals for specific activities as the WBS identifies, this breakdown facilitates estimating activities as well.  Having the person responsible for the work to be involved in the estimating process helps with … Continue reading

Measurement effects and analysis on personnel and organizations

by: Shawn P. Quigley

Whereas we have discussed some of the possible flaws in measurements we can all still agree that they are needed to provide both improvement in processes and the organization. However, other aspects of obtaining data for the production of quantifiable information: trend analysis and process evaluation, is the human factor both workers and management. As in so many of our conversations we look at the affect it has on the people who are essentially being evaluated by the information gathered for these measures. An issue we will discuss later in this post, but first let us look at the management aspect of this equation.

As a quality analysis person data may seem to be clear most of the time, but as a management person how do you gauge the data which is being received? Do you understand its’ meaning? Do you look at the outliers to forecast or do you think they are just noise to … Continue reading

Product Life-Cycle – The Development Phase

In the development phase of the product development life cycle, we are generating ideas for the product. We see opportunities in the market place and wish to explore if we can capitalize (not a vulgar word) upon these opportunities.  Perhaps a new technology has become available to us.  Our organization will want to investigate the application of that technology toward existing businesses. Maybe it is a new market. Perhaps the organization is looking from an entirely new application perspective. At any rate this phase starts off by idea generation and rigorous critique of those ideas to guide the development to the product (or eliminate the idea of the product).

This critique is facilitated via prototyping and reviews of designs. Concurrently with the development of the product we will develop our manufacturing capabilities and critique that development work as well.  All of which, will guide our design or final product instantiation and manufacturing processes.

We will also need to get some … Continue reading

Onboarding can be Costly

Onboarding Defined

First, we should probably explain or define onboarding.  Onboarding is the collection of activities associated with our present staff socializing and training our newly acquired talent.  The older employees take time out of their day to demonstrate behaviors and pass on specific knowledge and skills.

Onboarding New Hires

Recently a person that I know was hired for a job at a company.  This person has no experience with this company or this industry.  They do not know the clientele and they do not know their coworkers.  Many of you probably recognize this way of indoctrination to the company.  It often conjures the images of being thrown to the wolves.

This person is spending time going through the company training.  The thing is, the company training is not so much training as it a ride along with people that just go through the paces of doing the work, not explaining the reasons behind the actions.  There is no demonstration … Continue reading

Introduction to FAST part 2

Below is an excerpt from our book Pries, K., & Quigley, J. (2013). Classical Techniques. In Reducing process costs with lean, six sigma, and value engineering techniques (pp. 135-138). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

This is the second part, part one is located here.

Miles also identified the concept of basic and secondary functions. Basic functions are the fundamental reason the customer is willing to buy the product or service. The basic function of an automobile is to transport the customer. The basic function of a shoe is to “protect foot.” Secondary functions are those functions for which the designer has the flexibility to find an effective solution. A secondary function supports the basic function. Miles discovered that secondary functions are often a huge component of the total cost of the product.

A simple plan for proceeding through the Miles approach is as follows:

1. Separate the functions (we can use a spreadsheet format to capture our preliminary ideas). … Continue reading

Introduction to FAST part 1

Below is an excerpt from our book Pries, K., & Quigley, J. (2013). Classical Techniques. In Reducing process costs with lean, six sigma, and value engineering techniques (pp. 133-135). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

 FAST Introduction

FAST is an acronym for functional analysis system technique. FAST allows us to reduce ambiguity in the definition of a functional product or a functional process (and probably fro some dysfunctional one also!).  Value of a product is interpreted differently by different customers.  Characteristics that are common to value are high level of performance, capability, emotional appeal, and style relative to its cost (see figure below).  Value is generally expressed in terms of maximizing the function of a product relative to its cost:

Value = (Performance + Capability) / Cost

Value = Function / Cost

Value is not minimizing cost. Though, for some cases, we can influence the value of a product by increasing its function (performance or capability) and cost as long … Continue reading

Value Transformation Training Areas

 

Value Transformation training areas from cradle to grave, a product and project management. We offer training and consulting on the many challenges that come with developing products and complex systems.

 

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