Systematic process engineering and ist application in product planning
Current industrial products are characterised by increasing complexity, quality requirements, and a high level of specialisation. To stay competitive in today’s markets, a substantial improvement of the value chain is required, taking into consideration the entire product lifecycle. This leads to a rising need for adequate methods of work and the organisation of workflows in industrial practice to allow an evaluation against criteria of effectiveness and efficiency. The complexity of the underlying processes requires their definition as well as their evaluation and optimisation to be methodically supported in a comprehensible and reliable way. The success of complex processes depends on the cognitive performances of human beings and on support by information technology. This makes it advisable to regard processes as being primarily about information conversion, i.e. as information processes.
Some of the problems arising in this area are the following: The terms of method, workflow and process in this context are not consistently defined and thus inappropriately used. Existing processes often evolve instead of being defined. Furthermore, they are not considered in an integrated manner, as would be appropriate in the view of their complexity and impact. As the information conversion is not focused on, currently many processes are not sufficiently manageable. This is evident in cases of processes where the necessity arises to deal with incomplete and fuzzy information, e.g. product planning.
This work introduces Systematic Process Engineering (SPE) [WEI-04] as a methodical support for the development of new methods of work, their transition to executable workflows and their later implementation and optimisation as processes. The paper is organized as follows: An overview of the necessary theoretical and methodical fundamentals regarding terms and concepts is given, followed by an analysis of the currently available concepts in this area. The main focus of this paper is the concept of SPE, and its practical application is illustrated using the product planning process as an example.