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18 May 2007

Comments

Hey watch it SAP! My father's a priest! Oops...

Kevin, with all due respect - I believe you've got some of your facts mixed up. First - Ian Alexander is not an SAP employee, do your homework - you may have much influence over many people - why would you take such a cavalier attitude toward facts?

Second, the large automaker you mention DOES use it's own proprietary software for heijunka. Check the facts. I believe the issue is sustainability and scalability of the lean processes.

I respect your views and offer this only as an opinion from an open mind. I look forward to reading more of your opinions.

Best regards.

Vic,

I appreciate the comments. I don't recall saying that Mr. Alexander was a SAP employee, in fact the profile I linked to provides his actual background. However his article, as well as many others by him, are on the SAP website and obviously promote the company, therefore there's at least a close affinity. Although he has an even greater love of flowery adjectives than I do, some of his other articles provide an interesting insight into specific industries.

Yes Toyota has a combination electronic heijunka and kanban, and if you've toured one of their plants (such as Georgetown) you'll immediately notice what a simple system it is. The system is a tool, an aid, not a control. There isn't an obsession with linking and analyzing every possible source of data.

And that's my main point: too many companies look for systems to manage their complex businesses without first working to simplify their operations. Those systems then add an even greater layer of complexity, and often enforcing business processes to existing models, thereby constraining future improvement opportunities. Real or not, SAP has a reputation for that, and as I pointed out a few days ago even SAP chairman Hasso Plattner laments that fact.

I am glad to hear from many readers that they are beginning to recognize the need for simplicity. Just today I had a two hour telecon with the president of a smaller ERP software company that wants to offer simpler, smaller, more flexible, more interactive, and more visual solutions. That's the right direction to truly support lean.

Kevin

Great point:

"I am glad to hear from many readers that they are beginning to recognize the need for simplicity. Just today I had a two hour telecon with the president of a smaller ERP software company that wants to offer simpler, smaller, more flexible, more interactive, and more visual solutions. That's the right direction to truly support lean."

I just stumbled across this post today, and find it amazing that manufacturing folks (the ones who work in and have run plants) get so passionate.

I think you have fallen for the teaser on SAP's Perfect Plant. It really has nothing to do with what SAP defines as perfection, but what that manufacturing concern, in conjunction with each of those sites, defines as perfection. This is new ground in some respects for SAP, but is creating a grass-roots takeover of the supply chain by the manufacturing teams (as opposed to the finance folks who used to run it).

Dig in to the details around Perfect Plant. If you get in touch with the right resources, they will tell you is it ALL about simplicity. You might find something nice to say about SAP as well...

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    Kevin is a former president of a medical device company and consults and speaks on a variety of lean enterprise topics.
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