Last week we talked about a way to handle DCS migration without breaking the bank, shutting down production for months or waiting for results. We said it would change everything. We call it DCS Next.
The old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” must apply to your distributed control system.
OK. You’ve found a new manufacturing application you want to implement. It’s the best thing since sliced bread. You’ve configured it, tested it and tested it some more, and now you’re ready to drop it on the shop floor. It’s going to do lots and lots of wonderful things for the company, for manufacturing operations and even for the people there on the shop floor.
Our last blog post, “DCS Migration Checklist”, addressed several important questions to consider during the initial planning stages of a migration project. We referenced a white paper written by one of our technology leaders, Chad Harper, entitled, “Upgrading Your DCS: Why You May Need to Do It Sooner Than You Think.” Among the most important reasons was that the cost of staying with an old system eventually outgrows the cost of migration.
You can tell a lot about a company, by taking a quick look at their annual report and website. In today’s economy, it’s the results that count — that’s easy to understand —but leading companies take a more holistic approach to measuring safety. If you can only find results or lagging measures, look elsewhere; the lagging measures are functionally useless when it comes to evaluating a company’s future success. Instead, look for companies that provide results along with proactive or leading measures. When you find one, you’ve likely found a company known for its product or service quality, customer service, productivity and financial success.
Everybody talks about quality. It’s job number one. It’s what drives the company. And so on. But when it comes to manufacturing, what does that really mean? In most cases with manufacturing and the shop floor, it can mean a lot of things — probably way too many things. It’s easy to get confused, and by trying to do too many different things on the quality front, you can become your own worst enemy.
Every New Year’s Eve, something special happens when the clock strikes midnight. We come up with a plan to eat better, exercise more and take time to smell the flowers along the way — a resolution. We imagine the different and wonderful life we'll live if we just stick to it — a revelation. Then one day rolls into another and we go about our work as usual — a resignation.
Most of the project management mistakes I’ve made in my career were caused by lack of experience in project management processes, or lack of time. After some years in the process automation industry, I’ve learned that there are standards to help PMs with the process piece, including PMI, Prince2 and other custom processes developed by some of the world’s leading companies. With this wealth of information, there’s really no reason today’s PMs wouldn’t be well-armed with, or at least exposed to, standard project management processes.
But what about lack of time? They say that time cures all ills. But what happens when project timelines are compressed and there’s a severe time crunch? Sound familiar? Lack of time can cause a PM to brush over or even skip critical steps. Here’s a listing of what I believe are the three PM mistakes you don’t want to make:
1. Failure to plan: The project has been awarded late and is due in six months. The key stakeholders are pressing for a kickoff meeting and the project team hasn’t even been established. Let’s get going! It takes a lot of discipline to say, “Wait, we need to plan this thing out!” During planning, many critical processes should take place. Allow time to ensure good scope definition, plan for quality and risk management, and determine project communication needs. Failure to do this can lead to dire consequences — it’s the difference between success and failure.
2. Failure to monitor and control: The project is behind schedule for whatever reason. It happens. Some project team members believe there just isn’t enough time to check for quality or review with the client. Everyone is advocating we go with what we have and fix it later. Don’t get me wrong, under some circumstances this can and has worked out, but can you risk the rework, customer dissatisfaction and cost overruns that may result in more complex or subjective projects?
3. Failure to close: The project team is scattering to the four corners of the earth and management is pressuring you to get the project closed out. But what about your customer? Is he ready to close? Have the project deliverables been formerly accepted? Are you setting yourself up for the next project with this valued customer?
Ask yourself these questions at the key points of every project to make sure you are planning, monitoring and closing for success.