Business Process Management in the Manufacturing Industry – ERP-replacement and ISO 9001 re-certification supported by the icebricks method

Jörg Becker, Nico Clever, Justus Holler, Maria Neumann

Situation faced: A family-owned manufacturing company recently went through the transfer of management from the older to the younger family generation. A number of problems were uncovered during this process, such as prevalence of tacit knowledge, an inefficient decision-making process, outdated IT system support, and an urgent need for certification of production processes according to quality-assurance standards (ISO 9001). Each of these problems required thorough documentation of the as-is business processes in the organization to guide their improvement.

Action taken: To ensure that the created process models serve as a valid communication medium, the company’s process landscape was created during an initial workshop between the executives and external BPM consultants. Then the information on processes in the company’s various departments was gleaned from semi-structured interviews with the department employees. At the same time, process weaknesses and potential improvements were derived and discussed with the functions’ management. The succeeding depiction of the to-be process framework was achieved with the help of the icebricks modeling method and the corresponding software tool, which is a lightweight, standardized approach to ensure high quality of process models.

Results achieved: During the modeling phase of the project, external BPM consultants documented the process landscape, thereby explicating the company’s knowledge and good-practice processes. The process landscape served as basis for well-informed decisions regarding the implementation options of a new ERP system, which was introduced on time and on budget in the second phase of the project. The ISO 9001 recertification of production processes was achieved in the third project phase with the help of the process documentation that had been created.

Lessons learned: Simply deploying process models on the company’s intranet platform does not necessarily lead to their desired comprehension and use. All employees have to be trained that process models are a means of communication and are never finalized, a notion that also applies to continuous process improvement. Process owners must be defined so they take responsibility for adjustments to the process environment beyond the project’s lifecycle, but such responsibility is not solely that of a project manager. Furthermore, the project demonstrated the appropriateness of the icebricks modeling method for the manufacturing domain, although it was originally designed for the retail industry.

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