Engineering management and organisational structures are by their very nature pretty well structured and their processes well tested and optimal

In general, this is a correct assertion, however there is a seemingly growing lack of basic structure and joined up thinking at many companies in the 21st century. This rise is mirrored only by the increasing prevalence of popular management process tools that focus on a small element of the overall business management process.

Longsight has for many years been involved with business management systems. Mostly associated with large engineering based organisations, the majority of whom have some form of safety criticality associated with their activities.

One of the benefits of the company’s experience of being a consultancy is that it will get to see how many differing organisations approach the same process, and the disparities are interesting to examine.

Historical context

It was perhaps 30 years or so ago that the shockwaves of BS5750 were rippling through the workshops and depots across the land and people with vision and responsibility crafted maintenance and overhaul policies against which they were regularly, and thoroughly tested. Then along came ISO 9001, privatisation, PAS55 and ROGS, with side dishes of EFQM, Linkup and RISAS.

Those parts of the industry involved in building stuff or indeed maintaining and repairing stuff adopted LEAN, Six Sigma, KANBAN and many other process tools. Railway Group Standards came and went, interoperability became the new vision and even the much beloved VAB process withered away.

The insular rail industry became a more complex interaction of suppliers and sub-contractors and for a time disaster followed disaster. Apprenticeships and long term learning were replaced by a much quicker heart beat driven by franchise length and the integrated whole dissolved.

The business ethic has replaced the corporate good and long standing integrated management processes have collapsed, the franchise process is still evolving and infrastructure maintenance has been restructured several times and large multinational manufacturers sit alongside train operators.

What is needed now is a common management language that works across the boundaries, is business focussed, safety aware, risk driven, simple and speaks with data. That’s what Longsight has developed.

Management as a whole

Taking the best bits from all of those various management standards, mix in decades of experience and the result is a well crafted powerful, integrated and structured management system that can replace QMS and SMS.

It works as a whole, it works in discrete bits and it works across supply chain boundaries. It recognises tool box tools such as LEAN or RISAS and works with them, integrating them into the whole. It is the missing link, the underlying structure on which to found business and management processes, and as it uses the common language of data it’s an excellent decision making tool, allowing businesses to manage with data not anecdote.

It works across an entire business and yet works at a departmental level as its designed to work like a fractal, every time a manager focuses in on it they will see the same overall structure reappear. This allows any individual to use the whole structure to assist their daily task and everything they do is reflected back up to the board room, so no matter where anyone is in the organisation they can easily interpret information and understand its context.

The whole process is designed to give individuals a sense of their contribution to the whole. For many employees, getting asked which business goal they are primarily working to help achieve might cause some nervous looks. How many would have a clear answer? So if they don’t know, how do you expect your organisation to be optimal?

Goal orientated focus

The system is seeded with business goals, these may be law / legislation / mandatory related, safety focussed, profit focussed and performance focussed. These goals are analysed to establish contributory management/production processes. Measurements set to ensure the client can determine the effectiveness of the relevant processes and a review loop that examines root cause of failure.

Supporting this cyclical core activity are a number of elements: management review, data analysis, document control, training, competency, risk based asset whole life cost model, non-conformance, assurance, audit, supply chain management, materials management, workload planning, visualisation and financial profile processes.

All of these elements can be integrated into the whole management process to support a wide range of business goals. Each element however can be managed by implementing the overall structure, this puts any individual’s job (or even specific tasks) at the centre of the whole management system – it’s the power of the fractal design.

Even more powerful though is the ability to graphically represent the whole process and draw responsibility boundaries – this is a hugely useful aspect of this system when agreeing supplier scope, or inter departmental interfaces.

For businesses with significant assets to manage such as rolling stock, infrastructure or plant and machinery Longsight has a fully developed risk based asset whole life cost model. It’s a great tool for evaluating risk, training and competency needs, supplier management, occupational health requirements, safety and technical performance, failure mode analysis and whole life financial profiles down to the component level.

Longsight’s non-conformance process compliments the audit and assurance processes and gives a structured feedback on things that go wrong, and as they are linked to business goals and risk, resource planning is simple. Having a structured approach to business development isn’t just for those who need an ISO certificate, virtually every business benefits from structured thinking.

Final thoughts

Longsight is always available to discuss how its whole system works, and can delve into specific elements and explain how this model makes franchise assessment simple.

Remember, this is not gobbledegook, there are no bespoke software packages its all common sense and experience.

This quote by Woody Guthrie sums it up – ‘Keep it simple — but not simplistic. Any fool can make something complicated, it takes a genius to make it simple’.

Tel: 01323 423033