The three keywords in use inside a Manufacturing plant or a Software Unit are People, Processes, and Technology. Let us see the contribution of each of these tangible and intangible assets.
People: People are decision makers, policy builders, Project Managers, Engineers, essentially assets who reap, sow and harvest.
Processes: Imagine a task which one undertakes everyday – You commute from home to your work place. What are the factors which influence this? – Traffic situation, availability of two or three different routes. Do we think critically as to which route we should take on a particular date which would be least time consuming? We do not. The benefits of following a route everyday which would be least time- consuming, would be savings in purchasing fuel for your car. The underlying invisible equation of time which governs the destination time each day subject to factors such as traffic on a segment are variations of process. If you observe, in a game such as cricket, a bowler who bowls very fast may be very ineffective, whereas a bowler who bowls good line and length with minimum variations is more effective. Processes are key to understanding values such as defect density, schedule variation, mean time between recurrence of defects, mean time to repair a defect, etc. Process methods such as ROOT CAUSE analysis, and Pareto Analysis would validate data such as most common cause for failure of a particular job, and so on and so forth.
Technology: Technology is invented by people and is built for assisting people with their day-to-day activities. Technologies such as aviation, computing, internet, etc. have changed the lives of people around the world. What is the role of technology? Technology increases productivity.
There are underlying relations between these three factors which occur inside a manufacturing plant or a software development unit or even in our day-to-day lives.
People – People: Leadership, co-ordination, organization
People – Processes: People understanding what they are supposed to do. For example, I have to travel today to Pune. This is a basic requirement. This is accomplished in many ways, by walking or by other productivity tools such as automobiles, etc. Similarly, in a software manufacturing unit, the business frames the requirement for people. For example, “We want a time card system automated” Without understanding processes, there can be enormous wastage of resources. For example, Just-in-Time production, saves the world from a preposterous inventory holding phase in a product life cycle. Processes are the key to understanding variations in the end product, and to studying the impact in the way affected groups such as Sales, Business Development, Engineering, Production, Production Support, etc. interact. This study can effectively provide an answer to questions such as optimum utilization of resources.
People – Technology: People create machines and other tools for enhancing productivity. The world today has changed because of innovators. Nobody could imagine in 1900 that a mail transport system carrying messages at almost the speed of light would be invented. We do not know whether in the future a human civilization would be set up in space. Nor do we know if time travel, which has been theorized until now, would become reality. NASA has already ejected probes into the universe which are time-controlled and can return to the earth in about 10,000 years time. These carry information about the current world. Without technology, Man is just another life-form controlled by forces of evolution.
Process – Technology: This interaction provides the framework for large scale manufacturing. Processes to make technology in bulk, reduce defect rates and streamline quality both in the production line and in the final product. Today the world is more livable because there are identical products which are available to everybody. A researcher can simply state that “It is possible to travel in the time dimension as the Universe is a juxtaposition of both time and space”. But a producer has to produce that technology which may enable this. Both are equally difficult. But without large scale operations, and study of processes which enable technology, it is impossible replicate a difficult activity repeatedly. Repeatability enhances reusability. Reusability in turn enhances quality and productivity.
Process – Process: Quality Management helps us to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a particular process. Quality practitioners will understand terminology such as process performance, and predictive models for process quality.
Technology – Technology: Ideas such as Automation and Reverse Engineering, help technology make technology. Today, you may be surprised that a technique named “CODE re-factoring” can be used to study similarities between different software applications. A majority of software engineering applications can be reused by simplifying the functions used inside, say, a web product and using CODE itself to generate CODE.
Technology – People: i.e., FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER. Hope this situation never occurs. Cloning and massive self-destruct equipment control people, instead of people controlling technology. This situation exists in the world; it is to be hoped that policy- makers intervene and control usage to the benefits of society
The author is a dual master of science by research in Information Technology and Industrial Engineering. He has worked for many years in leading IT Services firms worldwide. He writes on academic theory, IT services, cricket and current affairs.