OPTIKON: Software-supported Methodology Facilitates Process Optimization and Standard Conformance for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises
In the context of the research project “Optikon”, OrgaTech GmbH and the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE are developing a methodology that will allow small and medium-size enterprises to quickly match company-internal processes with relevant regulations and standards.
Due to global competition, small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), in particular, are increasingly faced with the challenge of adapting their processes to a wide variety of regulations and standards. They encounter a multitude of (DIN-) norms and standards. Often, they are also forced to adhere to these due to particular clauses in supplier contracts with large companies and corporations.
Different regulations frequently apply to a single process step. Checking which regulations and requirements are relevant for the company and whether the regulations for individual process steps match or even contradict each other has required a lot of effort until now. Currently, each standard must be individually compared to the corresponding process, meaning that the same process is checked over and over again.
This costs a lot of time and money and often determines whether upcoming orders will result in profit or loss. Often, companies do not have the time to check all conditions of an order in a timely manner and thus accept an order that appears to promise profit just to find out afterwards that the standard-conformant delivery of the order results in losses, for example due to modifications of the manufacturing process.
In the context of the new methodology “Optikon”, the first step involves mapping the company process, eliciting and comparing all company- or process-relevant requirements, and creating a large catalog of requirements. In the second step, the process is checked against this requirements catalog and deviations are shown. It is also checked whether the company process is conformant to the standard. However, the process and requirements catalog is not rigid, but can rather be modified in any way if necessary – for new orders, for instance.
With the help of this methodology, the company quickly knows where exactly and how it must modify a process step in order to comply with the entire standard. Thus, the organization can manage and optimize its processes on its own, systematically and efficiently. It can thus adapt faster and more successfully to changing conditions and establish itself on the market with the prospect of long-term success.
Now that the project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), has started with the recent kick-off, the first phase will see the development of concepts and tools for checking conformity. Subsequently, the practical feasibility of the methodology will be checked in collaboration with the research partner Schalker Eisenhütte and the associated partner Deutsche Bahn AG, which are already supporting the research project in an informative capacity during the first phase.
The innovation of this methodology is that a learning system is created where it is no longer necessary to check each process individually against each standard/requirement. Rather, this comparison is done in one large step by using the multi-assessment methodology. “Optikon will enable SMEs to check the requirements of pending orders on their own process significantly faster and thus will support the decision on whether or not to accept the order. Furthermore, this methodology will also ensure that the requirements are adhered to when processes are changed or modified”, says Bernhard Kurpicz, managing director of OrgaTech.
OrgaTech GmbH was founded in 1999 and is located in Lünen. It is a consulting company providing services both nationally and internationally and boasts extensive project experience in the areas of quality-, organization-, process-, and project management. Its areas of competence include the development of custom-tailored concepts as well as the development and implementation of individual software solutions, with the focus being on practicable solutions and on the customer’s individuality.
The company has a wide range of references from SMEs and large companies from all domains. These include BP, Bayer AG, Deutsche Bahn AG, Jenoptik Laser, Karl Buch, Metro Group, Panopa, Sandvik, Telekom, ThyssenKrupp Steel, TÜV Süd, Weber Rohrbau, Windmöller & Hölscher, and others.
Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE
Fraunhofer IESE is one of the worldwide leading research institutes in the area of software and systems development. A major portion of the products offered by our collaboration partners is defined by software. These products range from automotive and transportation systems via automation and plant engineering, information systems, health care and medical systems to software systems for the public sector.
Our solutions allow flexible scaling. This makes us a competent technology partner for organizations of any size – from small companies to major corporations.
Under the leadership of Prof. Dieter Rombach and Prof. Peter Liggesmeyer, the past decade has seen us making major contributions to strengthening the emerging IT location Kaiserslautern. In the Fraunhofer Information and Communication Technology Group, we are cooperating with other Fraunhofer institutes on developing trend-setting key technologies for the future. Fraunhofer IESE is one of 59 institutes of the Fraunhofer- Gesellschaft. Together we have a major impact on shaping applied research in Europe and contribute to Germany’s competitiveness in international markets. The institute is officially a “Selected Landmark 2009“ of the Germany-wide initiative “Germany – Land of Ideas“.