Maintenance & Asset Management Journal Guest Editor's Foreword

Author : Mike Sondalini


There is a business process continuum. At the start is no process,where all outcomes are random, like kindergarten children playing together. At the other end is absolute control and accuracy, as in a robotic production line. A process can be labour intensive: for example, ten people use shovels to dig a trench, or ten staff enter data from manual forms into a computer system. The other extreme is total computerisation and mechanization —  text recognition software and data robots compile information, and trenches are dug by tactile robot excavators.

Once a company establishes its business processes, each process will be at its point on the continuum. A process will suffer complications, wastes and losses commensurate to its location on the scale. As the late quality guru W. Edwards Deming warned, the process you use gives you the results you get. Companies can be profitable at all points along the continuum. But a company that shovels dirt will never match the unit cost of production of one that uses reliable robotic excavators. Operational excellence and process optimization in a business shovelling dirt is pointless in a world of robot excavators.

If a process cannot be improved enough, the only choice for a company is to build a completely new process at the point on the continuum matching the required unit cost of production needed to stay in business. Continually eliminating processes, and regularly replacing processes with better ones giving lower unit cost of production, are business survival strategies.

Look around your organisation to see how fast it is reducing its costs. If you want to improve your odds of business survival, then improve your processes faster, make bigger process improvements. And when your business cannot deliver lower cost outputs, throw out your processes and get higher performance processes from way up the continuum.


Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions