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Production Planning and Scheduling

Production planning and scheduling is a department that helps to coordinate the flow of materials throughout the plant. It tracks the levels of materials and inventory, schedules the product, tracks the product and informs customers and suppliers of progress.


The quality department has but one function in the corporation which is to coordinate the total quality effort of a company and direct the quality assurance activities.


An environmental department, separate from safety and health, is desirable. The proliferation of new regulations make this a very volatile and difficult field. What was permissible in the past can be deemed a violation today. The impact of The Clean Air Act is presently a concern, as is effluent water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has jurisdiction over many of the emissions from a company.


A technology department is a luxury that many large companies can afford. This department is capable of scanning the magazines, journals, trade shows, conferences, patent applications and libraries looking for new products and technology. Such an arrangement offers a competitive advantage.


Servicing relates to either manufactured or sold products, or the servicing of client accounts for non-manufacturing companies. Servicing is responsible for fixing problems with the product and assuring that customers are satisfied. Business process management (BPM) is a fundamental concept of six sigma. Efforts to improve individual (local) process components are replaced by systematic methods to understand, control and improve (even optimize) overall business results. These methods have evolved from the basic tenets of quality and continuous improvement to address specific business objectives. Quality in general terms is defined as a product or service that provides value and enjoys a sustainable market.

Some of the Key Concepts in the Customer model are:

  • Process inputs, controls and outputs are interdependent.

  • Statistical methods can improve process control and guide improvements.

  • Process feedback can be used to redesign products and processes and improve overall business results.

  • BPM is focused on understanding, controlling, and improving business processes to create value for all stakeholders. Six sigma builds on classic concepts to ensure results.

The three principal dimensions for measuring the quality of this process:

  • Effectiveness: how well the output meets customer needs.

  • Efficiency: the ability to be effective at least cost.

  • Adaptability: the ability to remain effective and efficient in the face of change

This clearly addresses the need for business processes to provide value to both the customer (effectiveness) and shareholders (efficiency), now and in the future (adaptability). Six sigma initiatives strive to manage theentire business process to maximize these goals for the overall business. Most businesses are structured as functional organizations (vertical units or “silos”) based on functional groupings such as R&D, product development, engineering, production, distribution, marketing, sales, finance, administration,information technology, etc.

Each vertical function also has several vertical levels from the top executive down. Products (goods or services) are produced across many functional boundaries and business levels. Business process management represents a major advance in quality improvement thinking by managing the entireprocess including those areas between functional responsibilities. Business process management includes steps to plan, organize, control, analyze and improve the process to maximize overall business results. Six sigma black belts serve in the critical role of cross functional project managers to ensure overall business improvement. Traditional management structures are built around functional organizations (vertical silos) like Sales and Marketing, Engineering, Admin/Finance, Operations, Human Resources, Information Technology, etc.

The organization is divided into layers such as

  • Executives

  • Staff

  • Managers

  • Engineers

  • SupervisorsOperators

Decisions are made at Business Level, Operations Level and Process Level. Process Inputs and outputs are largely governed by factors such as Functions, Organization, Time, Language, Distance, etc. The obvious objective is to control and improve each individual function with respect to its own local goals andobjectives (e.g. throughput, production costs, quality and so on). It becomes very difficult to optimize the overall production process when a product path crosses many functional boundaries as shown by the process input/process output. Here, production starts with the process inputsand flows across many vertical functions and horizontal businesslevels to produce process outputs (products, goods, or services).

Managing across these transitions between functional elements is difficult because, often, no one is in charge. Differences in function, organizational structure, time, vocabulary and location are sources of confusion and defects. When functional relationships are not clearly understood, business processes can become more expensive or fail.