One of the most interesting presentations at the CSIA 2010 conference was given by Jeff Miller of Interstates Control Systems, Inc. He proposed using the same lean manufacturing principles that they use with their clients to improve manufacturing process to their own processes as a system integration company. And his company is in the process of doing just that.
Eating Your Own Dog Food
Perhaps, a strange expression, but it apply describes how you should use what you are selling for your own good. For instance, should NI use our own products to build systems that test our own products? Similarly, Jeff described how ICS is methodically reviewing all aspects of their business from project management, to financial management, to sales and marketing, …. They analyze each area, identify inefficiencies, and make action plans to improve the processes.
There are numerous reasons for undertaking such an effort:
- Quicker response times expected – notification to start time
- Shorter project schedules
- Cancelations and constant revisions
- Economy is unpredictable at best
- Price pressure from clients
- Ensures you are poised for growth when economy turns
- Engages employees to greater extent
- Utilizes the creative talents of your people
Method to the Madness
Jeff went on to describe 3 methods for applying lean principles:
In the coming weeks, I’ll do my best to relay what these methods are and how ICS applied them to improve their business operations.