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“Most companies are looking for a relatively easy way to identify the biggest opportunities they have for improvement, ones that require the least amount of investment in either labor or capital for the greatest return. This book seeks to provide guidance in this regard.”

Ron has done it again, writing a book that shares his vast expertise in helping manufacturing and industrial companies improve their performance. “Where Do We Start Our Improvement Program?” focuses completely on Business Level FMEA. While most of us are familiar with conducting failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) on equipment, machines and other assets, Ron comes up with the brilliant concept of applying the FMEA principle to the overall business.

For those familiar with Ron’s other books, “What Tool? When? A Management Guide for Selecting the Right Improvement Tools” and “Making Common Sense Common Practice – Models for Operational Excellence,” this book expands upon the Business Level FMEA chapter found in those two books. You’ll appreciate the more in-depth coverage on the topic presented in “Where Do We Start Our Improvement Program?” Personally, the additional details and case studies gave me the confidence to encourage the application of Business Level FMEA at my organization.

In this book, Ron outlines a proven methodology to start the process of bringing individuals from all levels and backgrounds together, as a team, to reach a consensus on the appropriate projects to select for immediate improvement.

The book provides an objective way to select the appropriate projects and develop a business case for each of them.

A nice familiarity that provides continuity between Ron’s books is the use of the fictional Beta International company to illustrate the FMEA methodology. A common stumbling block in most organizations when it comes to starting such an effort is where to begin, but the use of the Business Level FMEA analysis tool eliminates that by focusing on a process or production line at the business or operating level. As Ron points out, Business Level FMEA is simply taking a different view of a business. It’s about looking at the business the same way we look at a machine, identifying functional requirements and failure modes and analyzing them to uncover major business opportunities.

“Where Do We Start Our Improvement Program? Business Level Failure Mode and Effects Analysis with Methodology and Case Studies” is a fast read, with the information succinctly presented in three parts: The Methodology, Case Studies, and References. The step-by-step methodology to eliminate defects are invaluable guidance, as are the illustrations of the Business Level FMEA model, Business Level FMEA Questions and Decision-Making Model. You could literally start implementing your own Business Level FMEA after reading just Part I of the book.

But be sure to continue on because the Case Studies section takes you through the process and encompasses different types of plants, including automotive, chemicals, pet food, steel and food, as well as a distribution and supply center. The role-playing dialogue that Ron chose to use to explain the analysis technique is right on the money. I’m sure you’ll relate to some of the cast of characters. In reading the case studies, I felt like I was actually in the room and part of the discussion to identify issues, apply the analysis methodology to determine the best improvement tools, and decide when to deploy the tools.

After I finished reading “Where Do We Start Our Improvement Program? Business Level Failure Mode and Effects Analysis with Methodology and Case Studies,” I realized that the most valuable thing about Business Level FMEA is that it is directly linked to the bottom line, so an organization can calculate the gross profit that will result from applying Business Level FMEA, whether it’s to reduce costs or improve production processes.

In my opinion, this book is concise, to the point and most informative. It’s a must-have for anyone that wants to jump-start a reliability/operational excellence effort. It is clear that Business Level FMEA is a powerful tool that all organizations should implement. After reading Ron’s book, you will be able to do so with confidence and demonstrate exactly how it will benefit the bottom line.

I have conducted many system level FMEAs during my 40-year career. However, my system level FMEAs focused on different aspects. From “Where Do We Start Our Improvement Program? Business Level Failure Mode and Effects Analysis with Methodology and Case Studies,” I have learned a great deal about how I can improve my system level FMEAs.

I highly recommend this and Ron's other books.

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Author's views and opinion are not a representation of those of BP.

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