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Upgrading manufacturing enterprise information management systems just got a lot easier – a viable alternative to “Rip and Replace” has arrived! Traditionally, the upgrade path for manufacturing execution systems has been painful and costly, mostly based on Rip and Replace strategies with few viable alternatives. In nearly all cases, the focus was first on the functions within the application and then the necessary differences within each plant, with an objective of trying to fit the application capabilities to the business needs. Today there is a new alternative, which I call Production Process Management (PPM), a strategy based on business process management concepts that provides the capability for incremental migration on a process-by-process basis.
Fundamental to PPM is the idea of process design that can focus on a user interface being available anywhere across the extended enterprise. Another advantage to PPM is its ability to define, deploy and revise processes as we rationalize existing applications, and to do this with minimum user disruption. PPM allows you to build composite applications using process technology to extract data, perform operations and deliver the result, all without coded integration. Historically we have viewed the application as the center of information management activity. Flexible, visible processes are the connection with the user, not opaque data-centric applications. Processes are easily designed and revised to meet changing business conditions, creating significant agility for organizations to change faster to new demand conditions or market opportunities. Users and information are part of a business process, not just consumers or providers of data. If you would like to read more about this topic, I would encourage you to read a white paper on this topic that I co-wrote with Chris Will, Apriso’s founder.
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Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons License. A better path to success is now gaining traction based on taking a more incremental approach, made possible by changing focus from data-centric applications to the business process instead, managed through a process-supported user interface.
This type of approach inevitably led to unnecessary down time, resource and material waste as well as a learning curve for the staff to learn the new system.
PPM can be deployed to individual users, across one or more plants or across an entire enterprise.
PPM goes away from the opaque application “data-centric” world and moves to a process environment whereby every user interface can be dynamically created to deliver or receive custom role or individual user-based information. Users are primarily concerned with the presentation on their device, so existing applications can be removed without affecting the process, as long as the necessary data element is available elsewhere.
This flexibility is only possible when working with a common data model, which can then be linked to consistent data elements through the use of process modeling tools such as BPMN 2.0. Processes can be visible and individual to the user, while also be transportable to then be available to the user, regardless what location or what device they are working with. All manual and electronic intersections with the process are flexible to fit the individual instance of the process. Add a composite application that connects existing data sources and performs operations on the data. It is much easier on everyone – especially the end user – which dramatically changes how we can improve our information infrastructure.
Historically, a requirements document was first written to provide an overview and a route from the “as is” to the “to be” environment.

The removal of extraneous applications will improve agility while reducing the total cost of IT ownership.
In much the same way that the Smartphone delivers apps to fit the user, PPM is about how to best support the user, as the process can easily be changed “behind the scenes” without impacting the user experience. A pilot project was then developed and implemented to determine if any design changes were necessary, at which point a global roll-out was then planned. Role-based information was important, but typically seen as secondary to the functionality. One example is a process that serves all production test positions either in a plant, an enterprise or across enterprise boundaries. The incremental nature of this concept is what virtually eliminates the need to ever “rip and replace” again. Instead, it can now be replaced with a series of roadmaps to support continuous improvement and improve business agility.
During this planning stage, specific differences between plants were identified (or discovered) and modifications to the standard software deployment were then planned in order to complete the global deployment.
Deployment was expected to cause at least a temporary disruption, and at worst, significant production delays. I think we can now officially write the obituary for “Rip and Replace,” may it rest in peace!
Although disruptions could be mitigated through training programs, the learning curve was likely to be steep, arduous and contentious.

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