||Ex-SE: Expert System on Systems Engineering
Assess Present Capabilities & Desired
(Manufacturing Strategy / Detailed Procedures)
Regardless of whether a firm is initially pursuing an opportunity, or
looking for opportunities to continuously improve its manufacturing
operations, a self-evaluation is warranted.
Make no mistake, if you do not honestly recognize and quantify the present
state and improvement tasks, ultimately the only one you might be kidding is
yourself. (Subcommittee on Management Quality Change. Staying Alive: Managing
the Process of Change for Quality Improvement. Dearborn, MI: American Supplier
Institute, 1989, p. 11.)
Effective strategies for operations require a clear understanding of
functions, activities, and tasks in producing the product. Before a company
decides to embark on a project or program, it has to understand the program-
specific needs and assess current capabilities.
Manufacturing planning should address the needs of a specific program and
should be consistent with the business-unit and corporate plans.
Program-specific planning includes understanding the manufacturing needs of
a given program. Planning should consider required resources, current
capabilities, and whether the program is consistent with the strategic
direction of the company. This planning helps the company decide whether to
pursue an opportunity based on assessments of the company.
The basis for the assessments are a comparison of the "as is" condition of
the business unit and the "to be" conceptual plan alternatives. These
comparisons are difficult and challenging tasks involving trade-offs, value
judgements, educated guesses, and objective analyses.
Assess Present Capabilities
Assessing present capabilities identifies the strategically important
strengths and weaknesses on which the company should plan and implement its
strategy. In one study, managers were asked to evaluate apparent strengths on
historical and relative-to-competitor bases. The results of the survey
indicated that managers use different criteria for evaluating apparent
strengths and potential weaknesses. (Stevenson, Howard H. "Defining Strengths
and Weaknesses." Sloan Management Review, Spring 1976, p. 65.) It is important
that the evaluation be as balanced as possible, in order to reflect the true
state of affairs.
The associated graph illustrates the process of internal analysis. (Adapted
from Pearce II, John A., Robinson, Jr., Richard B. Strategic Management.
Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin, 1982, p. 156.)
The assessment should focus on as many strategic areas as possible. Some
important ones are: quality, product lead time, producibility, manufacturing
processes, tooling, facilities, human resources, training capabilities,
lessons learned, role in marketplace, strengths and weaknesses, performance
measures, constraints, cost accounting, and make-or-buy. A brief discussion of
each of these follows.
Current philosophy and procedures recognize that quality is not something
that only results from the development or improvement of systems and
equipment. Quality is also the result of overall attention to all activities
throughout a system's life cycle.
The Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award has helped motivate many US
firms to adopt quality strategies. A key aspect of the Baldridge Award
application is a self-assessment in many areas across the organization. Some
Baldridge areas including leadership, strategic quality planning, quality
results, customer satisfaction measures, and supplier involvement are critical
to the success of strategic manufacturing. Additionally, through the Baldridge
Award, the government is encouraging better manufacturing.
Product Lead Time
Management of time, specifically lead time, has served as a catalyst for
many companies. (Grauf, William M. "Lead Time Management, The Missing Link
Between MRP II and JIT." P&IM Review with APICS News, August
To gain control over lead time, it is necessary to identify the existing
flow of material and information and to separate lead time into the following
Order Review and Release - includes the preparation time of an
Queue Time - the time during which inventory is at a work center waiting to
Run Time - the time during which a machine is actually producing
Move and Wait Time - the time to move goods to the
next work center. This depends on: proximity, plant layout, inspection
procedures, or type of material.
For a company to compete in DoD contract, procurement it has producibility
measurement has to be part of the proposal process. The company may incur
additional costs if it does not include producibility is not addressed prior
to submitting a proposal.
Producibility measurement identifies:(Department
of the Navy - Best Manufacturing Practices Program, Producibility Measurement
for DoD Contracts, 1990.)
problems that can arise during production
subcontractors' abilities and deficiencies
design requirements that achieve cost-effective
Manufacturing methods developed in recent years are changing the production
process. The extent of their adoption will be the key factor for most
companies to remain competitive. Factory automation has introduced the use of
methods such as numerical-control machines, transfer machines, robots,
automated wareh systems, and material-handling systems.
By studying and understanding the capabilities and deficiencies of its
present manufacturing processes, the company can gain important input into the
The early 1980s saw a major push toward complex, highly automated
manufacturing systems. These systems were predicated on the idea of putting as
much state-of-the-art technology into a factory as possible. However,
experience has shown that few installations can justify the cost of such
systems. In order to assess the tooling and equipment capabilities within the
factory, the company must understand such things as:
current level of technology in the factory
technology required to process materials of new product
amount of equipment unique to processes already in place
required level of unique tooling
compatibility among tools
maintenance requirements of tools and
Frequently, the importance of the facility which houses the manufacturing
process is overlooked. This tends to occur because machines, tools, and a
workforce - and how to make them interact most efficiently - tend to be
foremost in the minds of most production managers.
Facility capabilities play a major role in manufacturing planning. The
following items help determine the facility's capabilities:
life-cycle stage of the facility (e.g., initial planning and start-up,
incremental expansion, maturation and reinvestment, renewal or
products manufactured and their output levels
plant's capacity, manufacturing facilities, and technological
specific process technology used and work-flow
- production scheduling and control systems used
interrelationships between this facility and other facilities, as well as
with suppliers, the distribution system, and ultimate customers
provisions for subsequent expansion and development
of the facility
Many manufacturing experts view human resources as one of the most critical
components in manufacturing today and for the future. Analyzing direct and
indirect staffing requirements in detail for the specific products is
important. This analysis will help to identify alternative opportunities for
Staffing, the number of workers and their mix of their skills, and managing
human resources are critical factors to counter increasing competition in many
Companies must regard their employees as their most significant asset and
provide good general orientation as well as training in specific skills. The
sixth rule in Deming's way Out of the Crisis is "institute
W. Edward. Out of the Crisis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Center
for Advance Study, 1982, p. 52.) Nearly every conceivable improvement to
manufacturing performance in some way depends on its acceptance by the
workforce. The proper training can greatly facilitate the implementation of
Training requires planning, change requires training, and resources.
Management needs training to learn about the company, from incoming material
through to the to customer. Also, management must understand and act on the
problems that affect the production worker in carrying out the work with
Past experiences can provide insight into what has worked before and what
has not worked. The specific changes in business practices, methods,
organization and supplier relations must not be treated as individual items a
list from which companies can pick and choose at will. The company can also
use the lessons learned by other companies in their industry.
Companies must recognize their uniqueness before they copy someone else's
success story. They must tailor the manner in which they incorporate
technologies and processes to fit their own requirements - not someone
Role in Marketplace
The strategist must assess the company's role, such as "market leader" or
"new entrant" in the marketplace. The strategist should compare the company's
role to that of the competition.
Competition is at the core of the success or failure of many companies.
Competition determines the appropriateness of a company's activities that can
contribute to its performance, such as innovations, a cohesive culture, or
good implementation. Understanding a firm's own capabilities helps to
determine their ability to compete.
Competitive benchmarking is one tool for assessing a company's role in the
marketplace. Competitive benchmarking can be done by comparing the company's
profile and company products to those of their competitors. Some company-
profile items for comparison are: market share, financial strength, diversity
of competitors, technological strength, credibility, and manufacturing
strategy. Some product issues for comparison are: product differences,
pricing, performance, reliability, and quality.
Competitive benchmarking should precede the setting of manufacturing
priorities. Knowing the value of what needs to be done and the pace required
for accomplishment are essential elements. (Sheridan, John. H. "What Makes A
Winner?" Industry Week, May 21, 1990, p. 34.)
Strengths and Weaknesses
A strength is any factor that provides the company a distinct competitive
advantage. It is more than merely what the company has the competence to do.
It is something the company does (or has the capacity to do) particularly well
relative to existing or potential competitors. The importance of strengths
rests with the unique capacity they give an organization in developing a
comparative advantage in the marketplace. (Thompson, A. A., Strickland, A. J.
Strategy and Policy: Concepts and Cases. Plano, TX: Business Publications,
1981, p. 54.)
A weakness is any factor that the company does poorly, or does not have the
capacity to do while the capacity does exist for key
Performance measures can provide a good picture about where the company is
with respect to competition, use of available technology, and whether it is
improving or not. An complete understanding of the entire manufacturing
process can reveal a great deal about variation and quality in the
Process capability studies help to determine the inherent behavior of a
process. The ultimate objective of a process capability study is to determine
whether the existing process is capable of meeting objectives, quality and
productivity goals, engineering targets, and customer needs. Typically, these
studies will evaluate such factors as materials, machines, process, operators,
time, controls, cost, management, environment, and schedule against their
desired values. (Keyser, Jack. "Manufacturing Process Control," in
Microelectronic Reliability, ed. Edward B. Hakim, Norwood, MA:Artech House,
1989, pp. 215, 219-221.)
For any company, resources such as facilities, skills, and money are
limited. An explicit recognition of constraints or limitations is a
prerequisite to a genuine understanding of the manufacturing problems and
For example, production volume can be a major obstacle to the
implementation of quality systems and automation. When only a few parts will
be produced, little capital is made available for purchasing automated systems
and up-to- date test equipment. In addition, other benefits resulting from
learning curves and quality feedback may not be possible. Long lead times,
high levels of inventory, and poor levels of quality feedback usually
Table 7 lists a few constraints that the project manager must consider.
(Skinner, William. "Manufacturing - Missing Link in Corporate Strategy."
Harvard Business Review, May/June 1969, p. 144.)
Table 7. Key Constraints
Economics of the Industry
|Labor, burden, material, depreciation costs|
|Flexibility of production to meet changes in
|Return on investment|
|Number and location of plants|
|Critical control variables|
|Critical functions (e.g., maintenance, production
|Typical financial structures|
|Typical costs and cost relationships|
|Typical operating problems|
|Barriers to entry |
"Maturity" of industry products
|Importance of economies of scale|
|Importance of integrated capacities of
|Importance of having a certain balance of
different types of equipment |
|Ideal balances of equipment capacities|
|Nature and type of production control|
|Government influences and regulations |
|Technology of the Industry|
|Rate of technological change|
|Scale of processes |
|Span of processes |
|Degree of mechanization|
|Technological sophistication |
|Time requirements for making
Many of the traditional cost accounting practices and systems have not been
adapted to new business strategies. As a result, many costing systems are
obsolete and can provide incorrect information. Incorrect or misleading
costing can lead to erroneous assumptions and extremely expensive, misguided
Traditional cost accounting systems ignore many product costs as general,
administrative and self-insurance costs. We must change our perspective of how
we view costs. We can no longer allow traditional financial accounting to
influence our thinking as it has done in the past. (Sourwine, D. A. "Improved
Product Costing: A Look Beyond Traditional Financial Accounting." Industrial
Engineering, July 1990, p. 37.)
For example, if a process is automated in an attempt to reduce the costs of
direct labor, the overhead costs of such things as tooling, engineering, and
maintenance increase. Traditional costing systems show managers a large
investment and little or no return. This effect has caused confusion and
dissatisfaction with investing in manufacturing technology. The reason for
this is that cost accounting does not link the indirect costs to the product.
(O'Guin, Michael C., "Activity-Based Costing: Unlocking Our Competitive Edge,"
Manufacturing Systems, December 1990, 8(12), pp. 35-40.) (Keys, David E.,
"Limitations of Cost Accounting in an Automated Factory," Computers in
Mechanical Engineering, July/August 1987, pp. 26-29.)
Make or buy analysis provides a technical review of a contractor's internal
manufacturing capabilities and evaluates the subcontractor or vendor
capabilities to provide certain products. One factor in the analysis is the
impact of the in-plant loading on the overhead rates.
It is important to develop a make or buy plan that identifies major
assemblies or components to be manufactured, developed, or assembled in-house
and those which will be obtained from a subcontractor.
Make or buy programs are generally required when the work is complex, the
dollar value is substantial, and price competition is lacking. On government
contracts, for example, prospective contractor make-or-buy program information
is required for all negotiated procurements except when the proposed prime
contract:(Acker, David D. and Young, Sammie G., LTC, USA, Defense
Manufacturing Management Guide for Program Managers, 3rd Ed., April 1989, Ft.
Belvoir, VA: Defense Systems Management College, pp. 10-4, 10-5) (Schwartz,
Walter H., "Make It or Buy It?" Assembly Engineering, August 1989, pp.
is estimated to be less than $2 million
is for research and development, unless the contract is for prototypes or
hardware and reasonable anticipation that there will be additional quantities
of the product
involves only work that the contracting officer
determines is not complex
Another exception is when the contracting officer determines that the
program pricing is competitive and is based on established market prices or
prices set by regulation
Make-or-buy decisions for a specific program must be consistent with the
overall strategic objectives.
Successful improvement depends on determining those opportunities that will
satisfy requirements and meet internal business objectives. To select
opportunities wisely and fully realize the benefit of these
Identify and Understand Current Initiatives
For some time, U.S. manufacturers have been involved in some form of
improvement to prepare for increasing globalization. Unfortunately, many firms
simply tend to pick and choose initiatives to implement. Before deciding to
embark on new initiatives, an organization should:
identify the current initiatives in the company and their status
have a clear understanding of what the initiatives
are and are not, as well as what their intentions are
Coopers & Lybrand performs an annual study - the "Made in America"
series - on the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers. The survey looks at the
pace at which manufacturers are adopting new philosophies. In 1988 for
example, about 14% of American Manufacturers had moved to and implemented
continuous improvement programs. (Johnson, Henry J. "Preparing for Accounting
Changes." Management Accounting, July 1990, p. 37.) The survey also shows that
by 1993, about half of U.S. manufacturers will have moved toward JIT/TQM
philosophies to support continuous improvement.
Investment in manufacturing technology is another initiative. Many
executives feel that technology implementation (e.g., automation) will cure
their manufacturing problems. When Deloitte & Touche surveyed 759 senior
executives of North American manufacturing firms, the executives admitted
having little experience in advanced manufacturing technology. Yet, they
expressed some interesting opinions:(Sheridan, John H. "The New Luddites?"
Industry Week, February 19, 1990, p. 62.)
29% believed that use of the most advanced technologies yields significant
48% credited advanced technologies with moderate or minor benefits
23% said advanced technologies yielded no benefits
These results confirm that understanding the initiatives at hand is
critical to successfully implementing them.
Once an organization has assessed current capabilities, compared its
objectives, and understands those options currently available, then it can
begin to identify the improvements required to compete.
"Many companies are responding to the competitive challenge by first
restructuring their manufacturing operations, substituting a leaner, more
efficient, and highly competitive organization. (Deloitte & Touche.
"Issues in Competitive Manufacturing." 1987, p. 1.)
A common theme of restructuring is "back to basics," which focuses on
identifying and implementing often dramatic changes leading to durable
improvements in long-term profitability. Companies may falter in their attempt
to restructure by resorting to "slash and burn" management and make across the
board or arbitrary cuts without a clear understanding of exactly what cuts
ought to be made, how deep they should be, and specifically what performance
improvement should result in what period of time.
Well-managed companies, on the other hand, are conducting major reviews of
their products and manufacturing processes and comparing these to their
strategic objectives. They are examining which products are being made, using
which processes, in which plants, for which markets. One of the goals of these
reviews is to identify opportunities for standardizing production processes,
equipment requirements, and end-item product characteristics. These
opportunities will then translate into lower manufacturing costs.
According to an Ernst & Young study, successful companies showed these
four characteristics:(Sheridan, John. H. "What Makes A Winner?" Industry Week,
May 21, 1990, p. 30.)
Broadly focused planning - "Winning businesses were more likely to address
matters of internal organization and external competition than
Broader product lines - Not only did the more successful firms have broader
product offerings, but they worked harder at upgrading their products with
frequent innovations. Also, they were more likely to be involved in
Relevant performance measures - Awareness that traditional cost- accounting
and performance-measurement approaches can be roadblocks to success, the
better companies emphasized such measures as lead-time management, work-flow
balance, and resource utilization.
Improvement initiatives - In the more successful
companies the accent is on quality improvement rather than cost reduction.
Ironically, Mr. Ozan of Ernst & Young observes, "we found that the
companies whose point of focus was quality actually achieved more cost
reduction than those companies whose point of focus was cost
Use of Cost Management in Decision Making
Cost management combines elements of management accounting, production, and
strategic planning. Tasks associated with cost management are cost accounting,
product costing, measuring operational factors of production, and management
accounting. An increasing emphasis on rapid development of low- cost,
high-quality products in short intervals combined with manufacturing as a
competitive advantage has changed the nature of the information required to
manage the manufacturing process.
Cost management practices affect several areas in manufacturing and product
management:(Cooper, Robin, "Introduction", in Emerging Practices in Cost
Management, Ed. Barry Brinker, NY: Warren, Gorham, & Lamont, 1990, pp.
xiii - xvii.)
addressing manufacturing costs as part of the overall product life-cycle
justifying the costs of advanced manufacturing systems and
understanding the links between business operations, manufacturing, and
understanding the relationship between the costs and savings realized from
implementing quality improvement programs
identifying performance measures that help shape
current thinking and prepare for future improvements
Activity-based costing (ABC) is a recent development in the area of cost
accounting. Where conventional cost accounting focuses on allocating costs to
each unit of a product, ABC focuses on the activities, or transactions, apply
to a product during the manufacturing process. ABC also directs interest to
cost drivers that are not directly related to unit-level characteristics. Some
typical cost drivers are setup hours, number of setups, number of parts, and
material-handling times. Studying these drivers help trace costs that tend to
distort overhead costs in traditional systems.
ABC systems are more complex than traditional systems, and require a great
deal of process analyses and design choices to work properly. However, when
properly implemented, they provide new methods for costing products, modifying
behavior, and focusing management attention on strategic issues. (Cooper,
Robin, "Elements of ABC", in Emerging Practices in Cost Management, Ed. Barry
Brinker, NY: Warren, Gorham, & Lamont, 1990, pp. 3 - 23.)
Because ABC systems focus on the activities in an organization or process,
they also provide an opportunity for identifying areas of potential
improvement and the measures to assess improvement. The associated graph
summarizes many of the differences between ABC systems and traditional
systems. (McNair, C. J., "Interdependence and Control: Traditional vs.
Activity-Based Responsibility Accounting," in Emerging Practices in Cost
Management, Ed. Barry Brinker, NY: Warren, Gorham, & Lamont, 1990, pp. 421
Identify Programs for Improvement
In the results of the 1987 Manufacturing Futures
Survey, both European and U.S. manufacturers ranked quality, high product performance, and
delivery schedule performance as their top competitive priorities. (Dumas,
Roland A., Cushing, Nancy and Laughlin, Carol. "Making Quality Theories
Workable." Training & Development Journal, February 1987, pp.
Manufacturing improvement activities must be consistent with the
manufacturing strategy. In addition to assessing present capabilities in terms
of how they affect customer satisfaction and product costs, an organization
identify process-simplification opportunities
rank improvement opportunities based on customer satisfaction and business
identify quality-improvement projects to pursue
It is important to recognize that among the improvements identified, all
improvements may not be doable within the time frame and budget.
The following is a checklist of actions for assessing
improvements:(Sheridan, John F. "What Makes a Winner?", Industry
Week, May 21, 1990, pp. 30,34.)
Review and group the products and functions that affect manufacturing
Develop and evaluate factory-simulation models.
Review manufacturing-support systems to identify which activities add value
and which drive costs.
Critically review the organizational issues.
Balance management-performance measures.
Nurture a continuous improvement philosophy.
Keep desires consistent with objectives, goals, and reality.
There is a definite need to find out what is new in technology, what the
competition is doing, etc. Using the information from competitive benchmarking
companies must identify how to use technology through partnerships and
The defense of America depends on high technology to detect and deter
potential aggression. Sophisticated weapons require sophisticated production
processes to assure reasonable cost and superior quality. Such manufacturing
capability demands ongoing investment in new plants and equipment. (Aerospace
Industries Association. Restoring Old Glory: A Strategy for Industrial
Renaissance. Washington, D.C.: Aerospace Industries Association of America,
1988, p. 1.)
Industrial Modernization Incentives Program (IMIP)
Until recently, it was difficult for defense contractors to allot adequate
capital for factory modernization. The DoD acknowledged the constraints and
developed the industrial modernization incentives program (IMIP) to encourage
contractors to accelerate plant-modernization plans.
The IMIP is a joint venture between the government and industry to
accelerate the implementation of modern equipment and management techniques in
the industrial base. (Westinghouse. Westinghouse/AFSC partners in IMIP.
Westinghouse Brochure, p. 1.) IMIP evolved from the Technology Modernization
(TECH MOD) and Army Industrial Productivity Initiative (IPI) programs. IMIPs
are implemented where competitive market forces are insufficient to motivate
independent contractor modernization and where significant benefits such as
cost reduction, elimination of production bottlenecks, improved quality,
reliability, maintainability and improved surge capability can be expected to
accrue to the government.
IMIP objectives are to:
Manufacturing Technology (MANTECH)
MANTECH is a program for establishing, validating, and implementing
advanced manufacturing capabilities to improve: producibility, productivity,
cost reduction, and quality assurance.
MANTECH is an initiative to address potential areas of innovation and
change. MANTECH focuses on advancing state-of-the-art manufacturing
technologies and processes from the research and development environment to
the production and shop-floor environment. Technologies with generic
application required for defense systems and having high technical and
financial risk characterize the candidate projects for MANTECH.
MANTECH projects demonstrate production application of emerging
technologies. MANTECH is aimed at making first-class manufacturing process and
equipment improvements in the production environment. Proven technologies
resulting from the MANTECH program are candidates for implementation under
IMIP. The MANTECH program can complement and support IMIP efforts. The
associated graph shows the IMIP and MANTECH relationship. (DoD 5000.44G.
Industrial Modernization Incentives Program. Washington. D.C.:Assistant
Secretary of Defense, 1986, p. 1-7.)
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Developing and implementing technology within the company often requires
investment of considerable time and resources. If technology is available, the
company should use it. Technology transfer enables companies which are new to
the market or without sufficient funding to develop the technology to enter
the market and compete effectively. For example, companies funded under IMIP
are required to make technologies they develop available to the DoD and its
contractors. (Westinghouse. Westinghouse/AFSC partners in IMIP. Westinghouse
Brochure, p. 12.)
Another excellent example of technology transfer and information exchange
can be found in the Navy's Best Manufacturing Practices (BMP) Program. BMP
began in 1985 with the desire that DoD contractors identify and share their
experiences (both good and bad) in order to improve quality in their industry.
The BMP program sends survey teams to company sites to identify best
practices, review problems, and document the results. The surveys are
published in such a fashion that the issues are discussed and no proprietary
or confidential material is released. Additionally, there is an annual
workshop where industry participants share and discuss industry-wide issues.
Another benefit of the workshop is the personal level of interaction between
attendees. Outputs from the BMP program include a set of recommended
solderability guidelines and a handbook on producibility measurement.
(For more information on the BMP program, contact the BMP Program
Director, Ernie Renner, at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the
Navy, Product Integrity (Research, Development &
Identify Potential Partners
Using on strategic objectives as a base, it is often wise to identify
potential business partners before bidding on a program. Setting up strategic
alliances allows a few firms to work towards their mutual benefit by allowing
their respective strengths to work towards a common goal without spending
resources to develop them. One member may contribute technical expertise,
another can provide a strong production base, and yet another financial
In some cases the company selects partners to get a competitive edge and in
other cases the government may actually mandate it. For example, on the A-12
program, the Navy required stealth-capable firms to team with companies
experienced with carrier-qualified aircraft. ("Why the A-12 was Cancelled,"
Jane's Defence Weekly, February 9, 1991, p. 175.) The Advanced Tactical
Fighter (ATF) program is a good example of two different teams developing
prototypes in the competition to win a contract.
Develop Improvement Plans
Before undertaking any major improvement, companies must realistically
analyze the opportunities, intentions, and goals. This requires analysts to
apply their past experience, imagination, visualization capabilities, and
creativity. Those who have worked in other plants, companies, and industries
can cross-relate technologies and develop conceptual plans.
Now that the opportunity has been identified, and an assessment of
capabilities and assessments has been completed, a critical question must be
asked at this time:
Does bidding on the project fall under the business unit and corporate
This question is very important. For a contractor to bid on a project - or
for any company to go after a line of business, implies that the organization
believes the opportunity will turn out to be a profitable venture over time.
The question is intended to help identify the potential risks involved with
the cost of pursuing and (hopefully) producing a product.
If the answer to this question is consistently "No," then it is imperative
that the company re-evaluate its mission and ask such questions as:
- Why has it chosen this line of business?
Does management really understand what it takes to compete and survive in
Can the organization successfully change its direction, with the present
set of capabilities and resources, and be successful in another area?
Should there be a balance between pursuing and not pursuing a opportunity,
then it is perfectly reasonable to continue to look for other opportunities,
rather than try to force an issue. However, if a trend of "No's" begins to
appear, then it may be prudent to ask the questions listed above.
Assuming the company has decided to pursue an opportunity and bid on a
project, the development of its manufacturing plan begins to take on structure
and become more formalized.