LEAN PROCESS OPTIMISATION AND REDUCED TIME-TO-MARKET
LEAN AND PROCESS OPTIMISATION REDUCES TIME-TO-MARKET BY 20% Thorough optimisation and restructuring of BoConcept’s largest and most important administrative process: P2M (Product to Market). A process that involved many stakeholders indeed. AMBITIOUS GROWTH VOYAGE I mere end 60 år har BoConcept designet og produceret møbler BoConcept has been designing and producing high quality furniture and accessories at reasonable prices for over 60 years. Today, BoConcept has more than 260 stores in over 60 countries, spread out across the globe. BoConcept is in the process of an ambitious growth voyage, and one of the pathways to increased growth is to develop new products at significantly greater speed than before. To reduce the time-to-market rate, the P2M process has to be streamlined, and the organisational set-up must be formalised. By doing this, cross-functional coordination and execution between the different departments become more efficient, and process stability increases. PROCES MAPPING The first step entailed mapping the entire development process, from concept to product, and this involved undertaking interviews with 25 stakeholders. The purpose was partly to understand the process as a whole - both dependencies and contexts - and partly to identify improvement points, which were subsequently grouped into work areas.
A CONCISE, COMPACT AND STABLE P2M PROCESS Front loading represents an essential improvement point in reducing process time. Previously, it was customary to initiate data-creation and marketing procedures before the product had been fully developed. This caused interference and inefficiency because changes and new information kept cropping up constantly. This meant that process time was delayed, leading to employee frustration. By front loading process activities, the product development department could finalise the product before the data creation and marketing departments launched into their activities. Product development uses more resources in the early stages of the process to ensure that the product is completely developed before sending it on in the organisation. This limits the risk of time-consuming back-tracking and unnecessary disruption to the organisation. Sanne Henriksen, Executive Assistant and internal Project Leader on the LEAN programme, explains: “By front loading development activities, one ensures that everything is clear, and requirements are met before involving the rest of the organisation. This means far less back-tracking in the process, less interruption and much greater efficiency”.
Long development process with a lot of back-tracking. Silo mentality instead of multidisciplinary coordination and execution. Random and inefficient coordination. Insufficient overview of resources within individual departments. Frustration throughout the organisation.
Reduction in time-to-market through process-mapping and process optimisation. Front loading of iterative development activities lowers the risk of design changes and minimises frustration and uncertainty within the organisation. By concretising the process, one achieves process stability, and a shared understanding of the developmental process. On the organisational level, support has been provided by establishing core teams for each segment, introducing project management, as well as supporting tools and meeting structures for project operations and stakeholder management.
Time-to-market has been reduced by 20%. Substantially enhanced process stability has resulted in feasible launch times being communicated. There is increased transparency regarding ongoing project processes for those involved in the project, and the stakeholders. There is greater precision when developing new products. Frustration within the organisation has been reduced.
PLANNING AND EXECUTION TOOL As each department operates with its own systems and processes, calendars and deadlines, it was difficult to gain an overview of resources. The Planning and Execution Tool has amalgamated the individual departments’ processes into an interdisciplinary tool. The tool incorporates all activities, deadlines, and describes products in the pipeline in detail: size, colour, material, weight, etc. Unlike previously, information about a new product is now only shared with the rest of the organisation when all the data in the Planning and Execution Tool has been collected. The Planning and Execution Tool also assists in structuring the coordination meetings, which are held every week. CORE COORDINATION TEAMS In the past, the coordination of new products was often a fragmented affair, undertaken by email or whilst standing at the coffee machine. A lot of energy had been spent on writing and receiving emails, and on running around to stay updated. By establishing core coordination teams, all this has changed. BoConcept has three core teams – one for each segment: sheet furniture, upholstered furniture and accessories. The three core teams meet weekly, which in practical terms means that each product manager has their own weekly coordination meeting with a team consisting of the five most important people involved in the process.
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Each core team consists of a representative for marketing and data management, plus a project manager. Regarding the importance of having a robust project manager, Jette Graulund, Marketing Director for Product Development says: ”Many of us are old hands on the deck, and if we can find a shortcut we will use it. That is why it is so important that the project manager knows their role and is strong enough to say “no” to cutting corners. I deeply respect the role 4IMPROVE’s project manager Søren has. He brought us together, got the meetings off the ground and made us talk to each other so we could work out solutions. We would have never have got there on our own.” The three core teams have made such a difference to the process. Before attending the weekly coordination meetings, participants would have already liaised with their colleagues so they are updated on the status of different tasks. All the information is collated in one place, and the meetings are used to coordinate – not to put out fires or make decisions. The P2M process has become shorter, more stable and less dependent on individuals. Additionally, this greater insight into the process – and not least of all into other departments’ challenges – has created a greater sense of unity across the organisation. It has resulted in much less silo mentality, and a much greater shared understanding of the development process.
The structured P2M process means that we are at the forefront, we have the overview, and our launch dates are reliable, so we can inform our stores and align our activities”, Jette Graulund, Marketing Director for Product Development.
Process mapping provided all those involved with a greater insight because all of a sudden we could see things in the bigger context. If I do not deliver on time, it doesn’t only affect the next in line, but the whole process”. Sanne Henriksen, Executive Assistant and internal Project Manager on the LEAN programme.
Front loading has given the organisation peace and reduced uncertainty and frustration. Our employees know that there are some highly deliberated business cases behind all the news we launch”. Claus Ditlev Jensen, Collection & Visuals Director.
THE FUNDAMENTAL IDEA: “To achieve both a significant reduction in time-tomarket and increased process stability through a robust organisational set-up. This set-up supports a documented and optimised process, where the risk is eliminated at the earliest stage possible during the process.” Søren Møller Kristensen, Senior Management Consultant in 4IMPROVE Consulting Group. www.4improve.com