I just read an interesting white paper “In the Firing Line: The impact of project and portfolio performance on the CEO” where it was pointed out how accountable CEOs are for performance. This should hardly come as a surprise. What is interesting is how that spotlight is now getting stronger, as evidenced by higher turnover rates. According to a study conducted by Booz & Company, the average tenure of a holding company CEO was 6.6 years in 2010 compared to 8.1 years in 2000. According to the white paper, nowhere is this more pronounced than in project-intensive industries, where the ability to deliver complex, lengthy projects representing huge capital investments defines success. This is why the number one reason for executive downfall is “failure to execute.”
The manufacturing industry has many similarities to the world of a CEO. Pressure to deliver the right product for the right cost to the right market has never been more intense. And, despite an expectation to cut costs, the market will not tolerate any reduction in quality, nor will it buy from a manufacturer that can’t consistently deliver a level of finished goods and aftermarket support that is in alignment with an ever increasing level of customer expectations.
Guess what: it isn’t getting any easier. Instead, performance metrics have been reset and new expectations have now been set for new levels of efficiency.
Be the CEO of Your Manufacturing IT Project
I thought it might be interesting to compare the findings from this white paper and apply them to the world of manufacturing IT, in search of any new insights on how you might improve your own manufacturing operations performance.
One of the primary objectives for a CEO is that of establishing and maintaining accountability across the organization as a basis for outstanding performance. This is often easier said than done. According to the paper, here are three activities to help achieve this objective:
- Provision a clear set of strategic objectives to the organization
- Identify and measure suitable metrics
- Introduce regular progress reviews
What you need to be a successful CEO is a clear vision of what your expected benefits will be of the projects you tackle. With this vision, any changes must be carefully considered and documented, to ensure your project performance remains on track. Then, you need visibility to measure performance against objectives followed by a regular review process to ensure your project continues through to successful completion.
The above project management process exactly mirrors the best practice to implementing a new manufacturing operations management IT system. And, just like the projects a CEO is likely to be tasked with leading, installing a new manufacturing IT system is faced with similar hurdles.
All projects are carried out under constraints – traditionally cost, quality, time and scope. Projects can finish late, over budget or not within originally promised specifications. The problem with projects running late is not only the typical cost overruns associated with such activity, but that the benefits are delayed too – lost revenue can never be recaptured.
After reading the paper, it became abundantly clear that being a CEO is very similar to running a manufacturing IT project. Each activity carries with it similar risks to performance and a failure to deliver can present the ultimate cost – losing your job. With this in mind, it should be clear the importance of establishing the right visibility into your operations so as to extract the right intelligence to manage your project successfully through completion. Hold regular progress review meetings, and be sure to keep the same vision intact from when your initial project objectives were set through completion.
For those of you that achieved a successful track record of implementing IT system projects, perhaps you might want to consider a promotion to CEO – as clearly your skillset could be used in another capacity!