This article first appeared in IMPO's July 2012 issue.
For a Fortune 500 corporation, a successful engineering project depends on local managers’ legacy knowledge and insights into plant operations, the corporation’s vision, and key project performance metrics as they change over time. However, the very nature of a high-performance global organization creates challenges to gaining these insights. In particular, the corporation and its managers are challenged to maintain legacy knowledge as managers rotate through various positions and locations.
A long-term global engineering partner can help a business leader overcome these challenges by providing global insight in all three areas, helping to connect the dots. In particular, the partner’s “relationship manager” is the point person and global team manager in the business partnership, monitoring role changes and transitions with key corporate managers, those responsible for engineering, construction, and capital procurement at the plant and corporate levels. Maintaining legacy knowledge is key. Consistent experience at local plants and within business units is essential to maintaining legacy knowledge, but this is what is typically lost during these transitions. Here are some of the ways a relationship manager can save an owner time, trouble, and money:
Facilitating transitions in management. A relationship manager provides consistency during management role transitions, maintaining legacy knowledge across business locations and key levels of management. This includes serving as a point person and global team manager, monitoring role changes and transitions with key corporate managers, and bringing the right resources together for successful engineering projects.
For example, a beauty care product manufacturer required support for a new process skid. The project started with the front-end engineering and continued with hands-on support through installation and start up. Through legacy knowledge, the relationship manager was able to select the appropriate process engineer to lead the effort based on the unique needs of the client and project.
Tracking performance metrics. As corporate managers rotate through positions and locations, a relationship manager can solve challenges that may occur with tracking performance metrics over time and across locations, including measuring and demonstrating total added value (TAV) of the partnership, maintaining shared documentation, and helping realize the savings of using off-shore engineering consultants.
For example, in one TAV instance with a manufacturing plant, a stainless steel tank was abandoned in place when the process changed. Key personnel had since rotated to new positions. When a new project required a new ingredient to a new processing system, the plant’s new technical team was unaware of the abandoned/off the books tank. Because the engineering partner’s role had not changed, they had legacy knowledge of the plant’s resources, and suggested re-routing piping to re-use the abandoned tank, saving about $200,000.
Executing the corporate vision. A long-term partnership enables successful execution of a corporate vision, at multiple levels of global management, locations, and markets. In one case, a corporation’s vision was to implement a new milling process to increase oat milling capacity, provide increased production capacity in a smaller space, and avoid outsourcing production. Based on the global partner’s 3D modeling studies and knowledge of production costs in other global markets, they found that the existing facility could house consolidated equipment, improve production, and continue processing in-house at a competitive cost.
Building this partnership takes time, but many benefits can be derived through a continuum of services. As a consistent, stable presence, a global engineering partner can save a corporation time, trouble, and money.
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