Complexity management deals with the design, efficient control and value-oriented development of the range of variants of products, services, processes and resources in industrial companies. Companies that confidently and successfully manage complexity are characterised by the fact that they control the systematic planning and design of intelligent product architectures, control variant management holistically and in a cross-disciplinary manner, apply and develop approaches to complexity reduction in the product life cycle and ultimately dedicate a high level of management attention to complexity management. The path to becoming a complexity-conscious company follows three key lines of attack:
Intelligent product architectures: The systematic consideration of product architecture over the entire Value creation process helps to limit the complexity that can result from demanding product requirements, customisation and rapid technology cycles. The essential success factor for this is the correct definition of the architectural elements and limiting the scope of freedom by coordinating system, component and application development via product roadmaps.
Building block design and modularisation: The need to offer customised solutions at marketable prices has resulted in manufacturing companies relying increasingly on building blocks and platforms to generate individually configurable end products as well as using cross-series scale effects. At the same time, the development of building blocks leads to new challenges in process and organisational design and the structuring of product development.A clear assessment of the required range of variants as well as the interactions between the various modules is therefore essential to define meaningful modular elements, interfaces and Standards and to develop scale effects at the module and parts level.
Variant management: In many companies, product variety has increased rapidly in recent years. This often results in a wide, extremely complex product programme which is not profitable across the whole market. The first step for successful variant management is therefore to create transparency. Here, companies need to clarify which variants are merely ‘birds of paradise’ that reduce the overall profitability in the portfolio, what the optimal product portfolio looks like, how the diversity of parts can be reduced in manufacturing and assembly and which profitability margins arise after streamlining the product range. A holistic approach focuses in particular on the identification of variant drivers and covers cross-subsidised variants, organisational aspects and also the analysis of the costs incurred and their respective causes.
ROI supports companies in the manufacturing industry in complexity management in the fields of product architectures, modular design and variant management with a comprehensive consulting portfolio:
- Systematic product planning and intelligent product architectures
- Optimising product planning from market requirements to product roadmapping
- Development of system and product strategies up to technical implementation specifications
- Networking of products and processes using Industry 4.0/IoT technologies
- Product portfolio clean-up and end-of-life product strategies
- Integration of release management for applications and software
- Building block design and modularisation
- Development of a modular or platform concept by defining physical modules, component variance and interfaces and anchoring these in business processes
- Identification of critical components and process steps along the value chain
- Analysis of product diversity and economic potential assessment of building blocks
- Dimensioning of common parts and carry-over parts
- Variant management
- Identification of the variant drivers and complexity sources
- Strategic variant planning and design of variant clean-up programmes
- Variant-oriented development management
- Variant costing and controlling
- Implementation of product configurators and Standardisation of system interfaces
Product Lifecycle Optimization – A formula for efficiency
A shining success typically also has its drawbacks. This was the experience of a pharmaceutical group that had reached the top of its industry with an extensive portfolio of hospital and pharmaceutical products. But after experiencing growth on a global scale within its heavily decentralized organization and delivering strong balance sheets, over the years the company lost sight of key areas like structures and process Standards. With the help of ROI, the company responded quickly, and in just nine months drew up a specific plan of action for its worldwide Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system.