Skip to Content
Personal Insights
Author's profile photo Andreas Breitrueck

Diary of a Production Guy, let me tell you a secret 🤫

Dear DIARY, today I need to tell you a secret.


I admit, all my attempts to write a diary started and finished almost with the first page. So most probably, this here attempt may fall into the same category.

But let me give it try.

Let me give you a bit of context first.

You know, I am running production in our local plant. I really like my job, whereas there is something unexpected happening not only every now and then, but almost every day.

I like the unexpected, my resilience to stress is high, and I can cope well. This is why I am in this job and managed  such a great career.

My teams are fantastic, they know every trick to keep production running, our output is strong.

Our flexibility is outstanding, we are “unbreakable” if you know what I mean.

Before I tell you about my worries, let me give you a bit more context:

We are running a Software system that is supposed to help us plan our daily production plan, it is producing something that it calls ‘Planned Order’ during a thing called ‘MRP Run‘. In principle I do like plans, and we manage production orders. We were told by the time this system was setup that these planned orders tell us exactly what we need to produce and when. It was also stated that if we trust the planned orders, all raw materials we need for the production will be available, so no shortages will stop us from producing our great products. That sounded pretty cool. I liked it.

Well, this sounded too good to be true.

Our Management loves this system, they say that while it comes at some cost, the benefits will justify the expense easily ……..


You know, I am a loyal Production Leader, I take care of my teams, my machines, and of our products. But I also need to keep my bosses happy, and since they decided for this software system, I decided to keep telling them how much it helps us on the shop floor – but I always feared, that one day they will find out.

This time has come now……

Since some time, my management keeps talking about something that is called process mining, and that this can help make good processes even better.

I am not sure what to do now, but I fear that soon they will find out that things are not the way they were hoping for.

Let me show you something. We have activated a thing that is called SAP Process Insights, and looked at what it tells.


There is a section that is called Blockers, and it is terrifying when you look at it. I hope it is OK to share it with you:


Let me be honest (at least with you), how should I explain this?

  • OK, we are producing – a lot !
  • My team are typically creating 70% of the production orders manually (I think they said the system could do this for us…)
  • 26% of my production is our decision ( the system did not suggest production)
  • We are creating production orders either late or early, but typically not on the planned date
  • We are missing parts


Do know the hardest fact? This is just a tiny little snapshot of everything they will find out, and it takes them 3 clicks to get there…. They WILL find out.


But why are we not sticking to the plan?


  • There are so many explanations, the guys in sales always change their mind and priorities, and we have to react. We have to bin our production schedules, and make them happy.


  • Sometimes we are missing parts, yes, the procurement guys sometimes do not get hold of the stuff it takes.


  • And then my teams are sick, machines break down, powershortages….


Often, I simply do not trust what the expensive system is suggesting, remember, 26% of my production is based on our decision – not on system recommendation.


But whatever happens, I think we can do better together :

  • I will team up with Sales and Procurement, and look at our processes and challenges together
  • We will document our Processes, (there is a software called SIGNAVIO that we will use)
  • We make processes measurable. We should get data right, If the system data does not reflect reality, how should the cool system come up with good suggestions?
  • I will create a task force that works on master data, so that material supplies will be better, and our ‘eigenfertigungszeit’ (the time it takes to produce a material) will be accurate
  • We will identify root causes for above behaviour, with procurement and sales, and we will run a joint action plan
  • I will drive this initiative 😎


And then, in a few weeks, we will revisit the data above, and demonstrate what we have achieved, and we will get back and do more, and get even better.

I admit, I think this process mining is a good idea, we will get better.

Thank you for listening to me, it feels good to write down what I will do.

Maybe sometime I will be back with more to tell.

Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Gia-Thi Nguyen
      Gia-Thi Nguyen

      Dear "Production Guy", this is a love letter from your CFO - and includes one wish!

      Thank you for letting us into your secret. It opened my eyes, too! It is incredible to see the speed of SAP Signavio Process Insights and how accessible the information is - even I understand it and I trust you to make good progress together with Sales and Procurement.

      But there is one wish I have: do include the CFO (that's me!!!) as well. Maybe you are not too much into the details - but some details are my daily business as you might imagine. Remember, now that I have found this gem of Process Insights, I also am tracking the PPI and Process Flows for Finance and Sourcing - what revelations!!!

      I am talking about the materials in production that are work in progress (start of production order but before teco - technical completion), whether those will become SEMI (semi finished goods), FINS (finished goods), because in our inventories I have to differentiate those obviously from our HAWA (trading goods/ Handelsware). Because as you know, we can always do a bit better on our ROH (raw materials) - right?!

      You might not be aware of it, but the "good fight" we sometimes have with strategic procurement making sure we have the right supplier qualifications and negotiating new frame agreements and more favourable payment terms, while at the same time our operational procurement (Disponent) makes sure you have enough material to utilize in your production process --> CASH is KING!

      But also a KING needs context and understand the environment, because we have to include the Customer's point of view, too.

      Maybe you have some ideas with Sales about Experience Management you could share with us, too?!


      Let's improve on the production orders without the preliminary costing, ok? I don't like flying in the dark!!!



      -Your CFO

      Content blocker Finance

      Author's profile photo Andreas Breitrueck
      Andreas Breitrueck
      Blog Post Author

      Dear CFO,

      while I am not sure how you managed to get access to my Diary, I am glad you did ! I know that you CFOs are more into details then anybody else ( whereas I also believe that sometimes you just 'think' you know, but you don't (at least completely).

      But as I really feel moved by your reply, give me some minutes before replying, as I need to replan production for tomorrow, as the Procurement Guy just called and informed me that the long awaited delivery of our most important Raw Material is delayed ( he mentioned something that SAP only told him today to go buy it, whereas he says it takes 2 weeks, He found out that the delivery time on the material was set to 0 days - can you believe this? Amazon are dreaming of same day delivery, he said they have it (with many of their suppliers).

      So while I go and do more analysis before getting back to me, why don't you reach out to the Procurement Guy - for your convenience, I include a picture of him I took recently :

      Sincerely yours,

      Your Production Guy