Sometimes a project is by its nature, broad in scope. Many of the examples quoted in the standard texts on Business Process Reengineering talk of fundamental, radical change in the way a company goes about its business. Such a complete all-over change requires any number of subordinate projects to address the products and services provided, the ways in which these products and services are marketed and all the operational matters providing their delivery. These then break down further into consideration of the physical organisation of the business, the human implications of the change and the information systems issues.
Such programmes bring one immediate problem: major change takes a long time. In such a case it is difficult to maintain momentum, with considerable danger of the project 'drifting' - especially when people throughout the organisation may have experience of similar exercises in the past when management attention was known to be elsewhere after a certain amount of time.
It is also difficult to monitor progress in such circumstances. One area may be significantly improved with no visible impact on overall performance. As an example consider a business seeking significant change in on-time delivery. This key aspect of performance can be impacted by a number of separate issues within the business - for example supplier selection and performance, product design and ease of manufacture, planning and control systems, factory layout, plant reliability and maintenance planning, stock accuracy, . . . It is quite feasible for the exercise to improve supplier performance to considerably change for the better the service provided by some suppliers, and to establish a move to some other, better, suppliers for those who cannot be improved - with no visible impact on our own service to the market. Supply Chain Management as a term can be quite appropriate; we are as strong as the weakest link in that chain.
Broad-based improvement programmes thus need each aspect clearly defined, and with objectives expressed in appropriate measurements for each aspect.
A final thought on scope definition. As well as clearly stating what's in such a project, we have to be equally clear about what isn't in. We may decide to launch a project to improve on-time supply of products made in our own facility but unless we agree to extend the project action plan to address the factored products that we source from Eastern Europe or Asia then these products will not be affected. It would be as well to make this clear from the outset; if we fail to do so then our sales team might begin to distract the project team to address these products. The consequences of such distractions can all too easily be disastrous. The issues causing problems in this area may be very different and thus the project will not address them, yet by distracting the team, we may end up failing to deliver improvement in the area that we actually set out to address. (Broadcasting that a certain area is not in the project brief can be contentious, but it is less so than abject failure!)
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