Once you have a clear overview of the complexity in your business you can choose to address the challenges at different levels. Often, one does not need a full-blown restructuring of the entire product range. Instead, you might want to take a look at the simpler complexity reductions that are available with minor changes in the organization.
Low Hanging Fruits
We have never experienced a complexity analysis that did not give at least a few hints on how to make smaller changes with potentially high impact. Sometimes you do not even have to change anything. There are at least three archetypical responses to the challenge of complexity from a low hanging fruit perspective:
1. Simply choosing amongst existing designs
Often, a complexity analysis will reveal that the company has several different components or design concepts that fulfills the same purpose. Simply choosing the best of these is sometimes an option. This is a quick and cost-effective way to stop complexity from growing.
2. Removing obsolete and redundant components
In some cases it is possible not only to discontinue the use of redundant variants but also to remove them from the portfolio. This will remove complexity and data from your ERP systems, stock, production etc. The organization no longer has to have the ability to deliver and maintain designs that has a negative impact on the business.
3. Making smaller changes to the design
Sometimes you will experience that even smaller design changes (such as making slight changes to an interface between two components) can have a massive impact in terms of complexity and total cost reductions, while you are likely to experience an increase in flexibility and shorter time to market cycles. We have seen cases, where a very limited design change made it possible to swap the sequence of two production processes, thereby removing a lot of variation in the early stages of the production.
High Return on Investment
Many of these low level initiatives have the potential to give you a high return on investment. With a relatively limited expenditure of resources and time it is possible to identify simple changes with a significant impact. We have seen cases, where it was possible to remove up to 50% of the critical path in a production after a few days of project activity. Thousands spent, millions gained.
Short Breakeven Cycles
These low hanging fruits are also characterized by a sometimes remarkable short time to break even. The reason is simply the ratio of resources spent relative to the potential impact. Sometimes it takes a few hours of redesign to get a significant improvement somewhere else in the company.