How to implement a successful MES, #3 of 4

47629969_mlBelow, here they are again – the 9 building blocks to implementing a successful MES.

The first post focused on defining business scope; the second covered steps 2 and 3:  assessing MES readiness and documenting as-is operations. Today we’ll be talking about steps 4, 5, and 6: identifying pain points, assessing fitment and … past the tipping point here … creating a to-be vision and roadmap.

  1. Define and agree to business scope
  2. Assessing MES readiness
  3. Document current (as-is) operations
  4. Identify pain points and improvement areas
  5. Assess MES fitment
  6. Create “to-be” vision and roadmap
  7. Quantify the value of enterprise to plant floor integration
  8. Build measurable ROI justification
  9. Plan for a successful implementation and sustainment

Identify pain points and improvement areas

Many skeletons are hauled out of the closet during this step. The scrutiny of current processes reveals issues about waste, performance, inefficiency, and consistency.

It’s a good thing – a tremendous opportunity for process improvement. In every MES I’ve implemented, this part of the process unearthed significant opportunities for improved performance. Well before go-live!

Beware of patience wearing thin

But this is often the point when patience wears thin. It’s tough for project champions and stakeholders to get excited about a new system – not to mention, there will already have been considerable discussion and debate about go-forward, well before my team shows up on the scene – but then have to work through all these tasks, most of which are not inspiring.

Stay the course! Doing the preparation analytics properly makes all the difference in achieving your goals. Remind your team that the rewards for success are considerable, ongoing, and continually building.

Every business has their own way of doing things

Every business does things differently. You’ll now be focused on mapping your own business’ processes and thereby identifying opportunities. Part of this means breaking down business functions into efficient models. Using technical assessments and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – you’ll be defining what drives your business, how you measure up against your competitors, and/or how you compare with industry best practices.

As an example, your KPI for shipping to promised may be 95%, but right now you’re at 40%. Why is this? Are customers changing dates? Do you have long lead times for raw materials? During this step you’ll:

  • study plant operations
  • identify constraints
  • identify improvement opportunities
  • discover applicable best practices
  • identify potential new requirements

As a result, you’ll:

  • gain understanding of the current and desired manufacturing workflow
  • identify what departments and functions would interact with an MES system
  • survey physical and logical status of the systems identified
  • compare key performance metrics with industry peers.

 Assessing MES fitment

What do you need from your MES? Start by building your selection matrix.

Some items will be generic (e.g. data collection, scheduling, monitoring Work in Progress), some less so. Once your list is complete, begin weighting – ranking your items in order of impact. Weights will be based on business benefits, identified pain points and client priorities.

You’ll be using this matrix when you begin selecting a solution provider, writing your RFI or RFP, to see how respondents match up against your required functionality. Your goal might be to decrease WIP by 22%, or decrease rework by 24% (both made possible because you’ll be better able to trace and catch process variance before your products reach the end of the line).

You’ll select your provider based on which short-listed solutions best meet your prioritized requirements, and which solution best addresses the gap between your current operations and where you plan to be.

Create to-be vision and roadmap

Gold star! Your homework’s done, now it’s time to move away from where you are and towards where you’re going. You’ll now:

  • Document your operations situation, using industry-supported standards to define the architecture, based on having implemented solutions for the issues you have prioritized.
  • Build a roadmap to guide you from your as-is situation to that to-be situation – in other words, create a future-state vision for plant and enterprise systems

As part of this, you’ll be prioritizing. Where is the low hanging fruit? What will you gain from each opportunity? From these, you’ll prepare the business justification based on Return on Investment (ROI) estimates and the process efficiency gains that arise from better use of information.

Phased-delivery initiatives – ones that pick off high-potential projects one-by-one – are far more likely to lead to success than all-or-nothing go-lives. One big reason is culture: as each project demonstrates success, you’ll win more and more believers, making the next hurdle that much easier to leap while keeping the end goal in sight.

Next post

Next up? The next post will cover the last 3 steps in successfully implementing an MES:

  1. Quantify the value of enterprise to plant floor integration
  2. Build measurable ROI justification
  3. Plan for a successful implementation and sustainment

See you in two weeks!