The culture of change

Manufacturing & Logistics IT spoke with Hugh Williams, managing director of Hughenden Consulting, about the concept of process change management, and the key qualities that should be offered by such a service provider in order to ensure the best possible outcome for manufacturers.
Positive process change within a manufacturing organisation revolves around changing the way people work. And it is not just about defining better business processes but also about explaining to people why they need to change the way they do things, and the benefits they could enjoy as a consequence. This is the message of Hugh Williams of Hughenden Consulting. So what are the core USPs that a manufacturer should look for in their process change management service provider of choice? Williams believes that, first, the provider has to be able to offer subject expertise, but, more than that, a high level of proven and deliverable experience 'in the field' as opposed to simply having theoretical knowledge. Secondly, the company has to be able to transfer this knowledge and know-how to the people within the manufacturing organisation from the boardroom to the shopfloor in order for them to best put it into practice. "You have also got to work alongside these people and partner with them through this change process," added Williams. "And you've got to be in it for more than just the short term because many of the changes that really make a difference cannot be put in place in five minutes. You have to help them create the right mindset and right working environment in order for these changes to have the biggest impact. So, it's about changing the company's processes for the better and gaining the company's trust and respect in order to help this become a reality."
Process management improvements can often include the implementation of new or upgraded software, but as Williams points out, manufacturers sometimes commit to a  new software investment without aligning this with improvements in operational processes. One company he visited had invested in a state-of-the-art demand forecasting and planning software package, but by the time he visited the site to discuss process change, the true potential of the software investment had been neglected. "The forecasting software manual had been on the shelf long enough to gather dust and it was obvious by the processes the company had in place that it hadn't fully understood the benefits that software and process change could provide," said Williams "But, fundamentally, it's more than about the software, and it's more than just suggesting an improved process change management methodology; it's really about getting people on your side in order for them to fully embrace the changes and understand why they are being implemented."
Focusing the mind
And what of the relationship between the process change management service provider and the software vendor when both are engaged in an improvement project for a manufacturer? Williams reflects that, although a process management service provider and a software vendor may to some extent have different yardsticks for measuring the success of their endeavours, in general Williams believes almost every software vendor that Hughenden has worked with fully understands that to maximise the impact of the tool that they are providing there has to be effective process change taking place alongside it. And, through committing to what can often be a sizeable outlay in terms of software licence and system implementation, Williams maintains this can also focus the mind of the client on the whole idea of change and improvement. "So, because of this, there can be a positive knock-on effect for the process management service provider and what it is looking to achieve for the company," he said, concluding: "In essence, it's all about encouraging a positive and beneficial process culture change within the manufacturing organisation. And the benefits are substantial." 

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