Managing Change – An Interim Management Solution

U-Shaped Cell2

Interim Managers are engaged by clients for many different reasons. However one of the most common reasons why we are asked to supply an Interim Manager is to help improve a situation which has currently got out of control. This case study discusses one such example.

The client organisation, a manufacturer in the Automotive sector had employed seven permanent Operations Director in the previous ten years and all had struggled to cope with the pace and complexity of a business where customers demanded ’instant’ product availability across a catalogue of hundreds of part numbers (SKUs). This had lead to a de-moralised work force, dissatisfied customers and a growing backlog of overdue orders. As a result one of our most experienced Interim Operations Directors was engaged to determine the root cause of the problems and restore stability before a new permanent Operations Director was hired.

After an initial period of observation and data collection it quickly became apparent to our Interim Manager that the organisations’ planning system had not evolved over time to cope with the complexities of the low to medium volume, high mix product portfolio. In addition, the growing order book meant than the operations function was always under pressure and constantly ‘fire-fighting’ leaving very little time to take a step back and address the root causes.  As a result some of the sub-assembly processes required to support the main production line were not able to ‘flex’ to meet customer demand and were not sufficiently agile to respond to the frequent customer requirement changes.

Our Interim Operations Director introduced a new production planning process built around lean principles and an experienced Production Planner was hired to manage and administer the new production plan. Within five months of implementation the overdue orders were down by a staggering 90% and customer satisfaction was gradually being restored. The factory layout was improved to incorporate U-shaped manufacturing cells and kanbans were introduced between the sub-assembly processes and main production cells. This enabled our client to hire a new permanent Operations Director in the safe knowledge that the businesses processes had been improved to a level which would allow the business to continue to grow.