- How do you run your operation?
- Could you draw a clear diagram to explain it?
- Does your management method follow a structured approach or did it grow 'organically'? - Which might be a fancy word for a painful and expensive period of trial and error...
Business Commonalities and Unique Aspects
First Principles Consulting is a specialist global firm, assisting companies improve their businesses by improving their management cycle. What is the management cycle? In our world, this simply refers to the continuous loop of Plan-Do-Check-Act and is common to all businesses regardless of their nature. Also called the Deming Cycle, after the author Dr. W. Edwards Deming who published it in the Fifties, it encapsulates a simple process, which one would think of as common sense. Well, it may be common sense, but from years of frontline consulting experience, we can tell you it certainly is not common practice.
Herein lies your opportunity. By determining in which part of the cycle we are suffering the biggest gaps, we can focus our business improvement efforts there first.
Usually First Principles Consulting conducts an analysis to find the constraints (of any kind: material, time, skills, etc). We then outline the opportunity to you, together with the expected benefits, so you can make an informed decision.
When it comes to business improvement methods, it turns out that one size does not fit all. This is because businesses and opportunities are unique.
That's why we have an extensive toolbox for business improvement. But it usually starts with a rigorous analysis of your management and/or business processes. Coupled with some statistical analysis, observations and a choice of the right method.
Example of Our Work
Production and Productivity Improvement Project
Project: UG Gold Mine Western Australia - An unusual assignment, this project had a poorly defined scope and deliverables, with the only client brief being to improve production and productivity. This was the kind of project that drew on all of our diagnostic skills, requiring physical observations, statistical analysis as well as systems and process reviews. Furthermore, a series of One-on-One interviews were conducted as well as some workshops to help identify other issues. Through the lens of People-Process-Technology, contrasted against a well-proven To-Be management system, the gaps soon became obvious. A business improvement plan was developed, client stakeholders recruited to the project team and a structured, stage-managed project was in full swing.
Outcomes: Interestingly, the largest initial bottleneck in the end-to-end value chain turned out to be in a different place than most people suspected. It was found that a support process (in this case the Geology function) was preventing the production process from running smoothly. Once identified, KPIs and management processes were put in place. A daily focus on the backlog of drill core processing reduced the backlog from 1500m to 0, thereby eliminating that particular production constraint. The team continued to focus relentlessly on the trinity of People-Process-Technology and worked towards that ideal management system. A large number of other interventions also contributed to an improvement of productivity of approximately 10%.
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Evolution embarked upon a series of projects with FPC, which aimed to improve the operational consistency and implementation of change on site, while leveraging off the existing strengths of the operation. Review and upgrade the existing management processes.
1. Improve transparency and collaboration at the Senior Leadership Team level,
2. Improve competency in project management,
3. Strengthen the internal communication using a deliberately designed network of meetings, communication screens and other initiatives,
4. Increase production volume and decrease cost per unit by improving short term planning and execution capability.
Together with other initiatives, this resulted in improved collaboration between all functions which in turn netted over 37% mining production uplift.
Following solid success, a process of prioritisation and alignment management was implemented. This supported the ‘mine to mill one operation’ ideal and allowed the SLT to decide month-by-month what actions were to be prioritised. These priorities incorporated production realities and longer term imperatives of the Balanced Business Plan. Much of this work was completed during a period of declining gold prices and a relentlessly strong Australian dollar, making it difficult to justify spending money on improvement projects. This work proved critical for the operation’s long term survival.- Mark Boon, GM, Evolution Mining, http://www.evolutionmining.com.au/