Saving Energy Step 3 ? Towards a Variable Energy Bill

Do you remember the days when energy was so cheap we paid the bill almost without thinking about it? Things have changed and we have the additional duty of reducing consumption to help save the planet. This is the third article in our mini-series on saving energy. It follows on from the first that explored implementing a management system, and the second listing practical things to implement on the shop floor. These open up the possibility of the variable energy bill we expand on as follows.

If ?variable energy bill? sounds strange to you, I used the unusual turn of phrase to encourage you to view things in a different light. We need to move on from the ?pie chart? mentality where we focus on the biggest numbers like materials, facilities and labour, and zoom in on energy where we can achieve similar gains faster with less pain. But first, we need to see beyond the jargon that governments and consultants love, and get to grips with the reality that we can vary our energy bill and bring cost down.

As executives we recognise this, although other pressures distract us from accepting it as a personal goal. And so we delegate it down the organisation to a level where it becomes ?another crazy management idea? we have to follow to stay out of trouble. I read somewhere that half the world?s organisations do not have energy as a defined objective to monitor in the C Suite. No wonder commerce is only pecking away at energy wastage at a rate of 1% per year.

Find out where you are ?spending energy? and relate this to your core business. If there are places where you are unable to make a connection, challenge the activity?s right to exist. Following the energy trail produces unexpected benefits because it permeates everything we do.

  • Improved product design reducing time spent in factory
  • Streamlined production schedules reducing machine run times
  • Less wear on equipment reducing costly maintenance
  • A more motivated workforce that is prouder of ?what we do?

As you achieve energy savings you can pass these on in terms of lower prices and greater market share. All this and more is possible when you focus on the variables behind your energy bill. Run the numbers. It deserves more attention than it often gets.

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Project Management

In a cutthroat market, where the competition is constantly on the attack to break into your market share, implementing a project-based system can give your organisation the necessary tools to be more efficient and agile.

However, rapidly changing consumer demands, technologies and other factors make it ever more difficult to generate a strategic advantage from projects, let alone develop one. Also since a large organisation can easily end up having to manage multiple projects at the same time, the new management paradigm can appear too complex.

What your company really needs is the expertise that can guide you starting from conception and planning, down through procurement and execution in order to maximise whatever resources you have. Each move must be well thought out so that there are clear goals and objectives as well as methods to achieve them.

Programme Management

Are you running multiple projects pointing to an overall strategic direction? Then you’ll need more than just a “scaled-up” version of project management to make sure every component’s work effort is well coordinated to achieve your enterprise’s desired outcomes.

Through our expertise in programme management, we’ll work with your stakeholders, executives and clients to achieve the following:

  • Design a well-articulated management structure and clearly define decision-making roles & responsibilities – This will ensure decisions are made rapidly with zero to minimal overlapping issues and to promote a unified, well-synchronised advance towards the common objective.
  • Set objectives then make sure they are met by guiding your key personnel in coordinating activities across projects.
  • Design or utilise existing financial models such that they adhere to your enterprise’s financial policies.
  • Develop procedures for reporting expenditures specific to the programme.
  • Establish the programme infrastructure, including
    • The appropriate technical environment and tools (e.g. hardware, software, communication, and other IT-related items)
    • IT staff and administrators
  • Evaluate your enterprise’s current IT architecture to determine whether it will suffice to achieve your objectives. If it doesn’t, propose options you can take to meet what is required.
  • Plan out activities that should take place in different levels in the organisation.
  • Implement a periodic review of the programme progress as well as of interim results to ensure everything is aligned with the strategic outcome.

Programme and Project Reviews

Whether we’ve helped you set up your programme or you did it on your own, time will come when you’ll need to know whether everything is going as planned. If it appears like the entire programme is going smoothly, chances are, something’s going awfully wrong somewhere. Remember, even the most well-planned projects and programmes are still under the mercy of unforeseen variables.

We’ve got highly specialised reviews for either projects or an entire programme. We’ll be able to provide you answers to questions like:

  • Are all projects aligned with the programme’s intended direction?
  • Are the people working on your projects as focused with the business rationale as they have been with meeting deadlines and utilising resources?
  • Where are your risks and exposures? How can they be remedied?
  • Is the project viable at all?

We understand how your staff would want to function normally as quickly as possible. Rest assured, our programme and project reviews are conducted swiftly and efficiently so that both interruptions and oversights are brought to a minimum.

After we’re done, you can expect a detailed quantitative assessment of your programme and/or projects’ status.

Basically, we’re not here to find mistakes; we’re here to help you find ways to correct them. If a project rescue is required, we’ll be the first to lend a hand.

Project Rescue

Believe it or not, many of our clients approached us not before or during their project’s planning stages. But rather, after having gone through sloppy execution, when they end up losing control. In other words, we’re usually at the receiving end of the distress signal, after they’ve punched the panic button.

While obviously this isn’t the ideal time to seek the aid of any expert because it means you’ve incurred unnecessary losses already, all is not yet lost. If the appropriate remedial actions are taken in a timely manner, you can still achieve highly acceptable end results.

In fact, in most of our experiences with project rescue operations, we’ve been able to put projects back on track – just the way the planners wanted them to be. We’ll also help you devise airtight strategies to prevent your project from going astray again.

At the end of our project rescue,

  • You’ll regain complete control
  • Milestones will be reached as planned
  • Requirements will be accomplished, and
  • The project will be realigned with ideal business directions

Project Governance Processes

Constructing a firm underlying structure is essential in any organisation. So before we’ll institute project management, we’ll do the following first.

  • Set up a PMO or Project Management Office to ensure, among others, that
    • Utilisation of facilities, budgets, technical support and other resources will be well coordinated
    • Work products can be tracked and reviewed
    • Issues regarding methodology and processes will be given appropriate attention
    • Training can be organised
    • Project management discipline be instilled in the IT department
  • Establish a steering committee to oversee the implementation of IT and business strategies
  • Fill up slots for a project manager, IT executive and a business sponsor and define the roles of each
  • Infuse project management practices to all affected units of the enterprise

Establishing PMOs, steering committees and other management structures is the easy part. Many organisations spend so much in order to create the structures related to project management, only to find out later that the effort has been all for naught. That’s why we won’t end there. Our objectives will therefore include the following:

  • To plant and cultivate an environment appreciative of project governance i.e. one that does not project it as just a bunch of bureaucratic processes and protocols.
  • To establish an organisational culture that starts at the top.
  • To make everyone involved understand that the power of project governance still lies in the hands of those who will ultimately implement it.

A project-driven enterprise is never propelled by a single project. Since multiple projects require a more complex governing structure, you’ll need to understand the intricacies of programme management.

Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management (TQM) is another business management approach that focuses on the involvement of all members of the organisation to participate in improving processes, products, services, and the culture in which they work in. It is important that every team member realises how each individual and each activity affects, and in turn is affected by, others.

With the use of combined quality and management tools, TQM also aims to reduce losses brought about by wasteful practices, a common concern in most companies. Using the TQM strategy, business would also be able to identify the cause of a defect, thereby preventing it from entering the final product.

Deming’s 14 Points

At the core of the Total Quality Management concept and implementation is Deming’s 14 points, a set of guidelines on quality as conceptualised by W Edwards Deming, one of the pioneers of quality. Deming’s 14 points are as follows:

  1. Create constancy of purpose for improving products and services.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on price alone; instead, minimise total cost by working with a single supplier.
  5. Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production and service.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Adopt and institute leadership.
  8. Drive out fear.
  9. Break down barriers between staff areas.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce.
  11. Eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management.
  12. Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship, and eliminate the annual rating or merit system.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work accomplishing the transformation.

But if you were to reduce to bare bones the TQM philosophy from Deming’s 14 points, it would all come down to two simple goals:

  1. To make things right the first time; and
  2. To work for continuous improvement.

As with all other quality management process, the end goal is to be able to offer products and services that meet and even exceed customer’s expectations.

Find out more about our Quality Assurance services in the following pages:

The Matrix Management Structure

Organizations exploit matrix management in various ways. A company, for instance, that operates globally uses it at larger scale by giving consistent products to various countries internationally. A business entity, having many products, does not assign its people to each product full-time but assign those to different ones on a part time basis, instead. And when it comes to delivering high quality and low cost products, companies overcome industry pressures with the help of many overseeing managers. In a rapidly changing environment, organizations respond quickly by sharing information through a matrix model.

Understanding the Matrix Management Structure

A basic understanding of matrix management starts with the three key roles and responsibilities that applies in the structure.

  • Matrix Leader ? The common person above all the matrix bosses is the matrix leader. He ensures that the balance of power is maintained in the entire organization by delegating decisions and promoting collaboration among the people.
  • Matrix Managers ? The managers cooperate with each other by defining the respective activities that they are responsible for.
  • Matrix Employees – The employees have lesser direct authority but has more responsibilities. They resolve differing demands from more than one matrix managers while they work things out upwards. Their loyalty must be dual and their relationships with managers must be maintained.

Characteristics of a Matrix Structure

Here are some features that define the matrix management structure:

  • Hybrid Structure ?The matrix structure is a mix of functional and project organization. Since it is a combination of these two, matrix management is hybrid in nature.
  • Functional Manager ? When it comes to the technical phases of the project, the functional manager assumes responsibility. The manager decides on how to get the project done, delegates the tasks to the subordinates and oversees the operational parts of the organization.
  • Project Manager ? The project manager has full authority in the administrative phases, including the physical and financial resources needed to complete the project. The responsibilities of a project manager comprise deciding on what to do, scheduling the work, coordinating the activities to diverse functions and evaluating over-all project performance.
  • Specialization ?As the functional managers concentrate on the technical factors, the project managers focus on administrative ones. Thus, in matrix management, there is specialization.
  • Challenge in Unity of Command ? Companies that employs matrix management usually experience a problem when it comes to the unity of command. This is largely due to the conflicting orders from the functional and project managers.

Types of Matrix Structure

The matrix management structure can be classified according to the level of power of the project manager. Here are three distinct types of matrix structures that are widely used by organizations.

  • Weak Matrix ? The project manager has limited authority and power as the functional manager controls the budget of the project. His role is only part-time and more like a coordinator.
  • Strong Matrix ? Here, the project manager has almost all the authority and power. He controls the budget, holds the full time administrative project management and has a full time role.
  • Balanced Matrix ? In this structure type, both the project and functional managers control the budget of the project. The authority and power is shared by the two as well. Although the project manager has a full time role, he only has a part time authority for the administrative staff to report under his leadership.

Successful companies of today venture more on enhancing the abilities, skills, behavior and performances of their managers than the pursuit of finding the best physical structure. Indeed, learning the fundamentals of the matrix structure is essential to maximize its efficiency. A senior executive pointed out that one of the challenges in matrix management is not more of building a structure but in creating the matrix to the mind of the managers. This comes to say that matrix management is not just about the structure, it is a frame in the mind.

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