The last time we talked about recipes and specifications I made a big point that while only a few people in the company were responsible for managing recipes and specifications, almost every single person in the company used some data from the recipes and specifications at some time or the other.
I hope you’ve had some time to think about this. And, I bet you’ve come to the conclusion that I may not be 100% correct in that everyone in the company uses the recipes and specifications from time to time, but you realize that there are a lot more people that use the recipes and specifications than you ever thought about before.
So, this time, I’d like to talk about one other aspect of the recipes and specifications that is very important. And, I’d like to frame it in terms of some questions.
If you have a change in a recipe or specification, once the change has been approved, how long does it take to fully disseminate the change? How do you even know when the change has been fully disseminated? How do people know that they have the latest and most up-to-date recipe and specification information?
Have you ever made a product using an old recipe? Have you ever made a product using an old specification? Have you ever purchased a material using an old
specification? Have you ever QA tested a product using an old specification? How did you even know? How were the people using the recipe or specification supposed to know?
The point is, I think this happens all the time. The recipes or specifications are all on paper. No one really knows if they have the latest data. If something changes, on one really knows what changed or how they are affected. No one really knows when a change is being made and no one really knows when they’re making a change if everyone has been told about the change or if they’ve been given the new information that they need.
I just think this is a big problem and these kinds of situations are a lot more pervasive than most people think. And, I think these problems can have a big impact on the business.
If you’re in the kind of business that never changes and you are making the same few products day in and day out for months and months on end, then, no, you probably haven’t seen these kinds of problems.
But, if you trying to build an agile manufacturing capability that responds quickly to changes in the market place and in demands from your customers then you are probably seeing these problems pretty regularly.
Being able to respond to the market and to your customers means that you have to be able to quickly change characteristics of your products and change characteristics of your packaging. It means you have to be able to quickly introduce new products and new product extensions. It means you have to adapt your products to changing customer demands.
And all of that means that you have to change your recipe and specification pretty regularly and you have to know that everyone needs those changes have those changes. You have to know that everyone that needs the latest recipes and specification in fact have the absolute latest and accurate information.
This doesn’t mean that you need some gigantic and expensive new tools. But, it does mean that you need to think about this and think about how you can give your company some significant new capabilities to disseminate recipes and specifications quickly and accurately when changes are made.
If you need full blown recipe and specification management including creation, editing, review, approval, and so on, then you should look at the options in the market place for recipe and specification management solutions.
But, if you have those processes already in place and the recipe and specification data in a readily usable form such as in a database, then you probably only need to think about some visualization tools which will let everyone that needs to view the recipes and specifications.
This visualization solution doesn’t need to be complicated. You’ll need some basic security so that only the right people get to view the data that they need to view. And, no one but no one outside of the R&D people with the right authorization and the right approval processes get to change anything. Then, it’s just a matter of giving the people some simple tools to view the recipes and specifications that they need (and only what they need) in order to do their jobs. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
But, think about how powerful this is. With some very simple tools you give the company some very sophisticated and powerful capabilities. Capabilities that help the company with product changes, new products, product extensions, and so on. Capabilities that help minimize mistakes from old data, incorrect data, and mistakes that could cause you to have to even scrap or rework product.
These are all capabilities that make the company more competitive in the marketplace and that help increase sales and increase profits. And that’s all good. So, think about it. Take a look around the company. See what you find and let me know. Good luck!