Paper Written For Publication in Integrated Manufacturing Systems
A Framework for Specifying Education Needs of MRP II / ERP System Production Planning and Control Personnel
This paper briefly outlines the development and population of a framework for specifying the education requirements of personnel associated with production planning and control systems. The framework is built on the logic that the knowledge requirements of individuals are dependent upon the tasks that the individuals perform as part of their work and also the level of involvement the individuals have with each of those duties.
The education requirements specification framework testing and validation process is described in detail and the results of the testing are and discussed. Finally, the practical application of the framework for specifying the education requirements is demonstrated by reference to a master scheduler in a company that uses a manufacturing resource planning (MRP II) system.
The planning and control of the material requirements and the activities associated with the actual manufacture of products represent important tasks that manufacturing companies need to undertake effectively if they are to survive in their respective markets [Muhlemann et al 1992]. There are a variety of approaches that manufacturers can adopt in the management of the operations of their production facilities, many of which are computerised.
Implementation of computerised production planning and control (PPC) systems is a very complex task that generally requires much change to job roles as well as to the existing formal / informal systems in the company in which PPC system is being implemented [Vollman et al 1992]. These factors combine to make implementation difficult and despite the fact that computerised PPC systems have been implemented for decades, a significant proportion of implementations result in failure, i.e. do not meet customer expectations [Brown 1994, Burns et al 1990, Browne et al 1996].
Much research has been undertaken to analyse the process of PPC system implementation and subsequent operation [Ang et al 1995, Burns et al 1990, Cox & Clark 1984, Duchessi et al 1988, Turnipseed et al 1992]. Some studies have attempted to determine the factors that are required for implementation success while other studies have set out to elicit the barriers to implementation success. These studies highlight a number of issues and factors that require addressing if systems are to be implemented successfully.
One of such group of commonly recurring factors is staff education and training. Education & Training, as a PPC implementation / operation success factor, is itself comprised of a variety of issues, including [Udo & Ehie 1996, Wallace 1985, White 1980]:
· Timing of the education / training
· Confusing education with training
· Budgets allocated to staff education and training
· Delivery of the education and training (i.e. media used and skills of the educator / trainer)
· Appropriate course content
· Relevant people attending the course
Considering the last two issues, having an appropriate course content and the relevant people in attendance are facilitated by performing an education needs analysis [Boydell & Leary 1996]. Figure 1 indicates the important role that needs specification plays in the process of education / training [Kenney & Reid 1988].
The following sections of the paper outlines the need for an effective method of specifying staff education and training requirements and the development and testing of such a methodology.
2 Need for / Uses of the Framework
Despite the fact that it is widely accepted that inadequate / inappropriate user education and training can lead to implementation troubles [Udo & Ehie 1996, Wallace 1985, White 1980, Duchessi et al 1988] there has been a dearth of research that has attempted to address the problem [Jones et al 1998]. Many implementations fail or are operated at far from their full potential and the causes given for many of these failures are lack of user education and training.
The research task of developing an approach to accurately specifying the education and training requirements of a PPC system user in a practical way is justifiable for the following reasons:
1. PPC system implementation is a lengthy and difficult process that often ends with the system failing to meet user expectations and sometimes the system may be rejected outright [Brown 1994, Burns et al 1990, Brooks 1994]. Both of these results represent a considerable waste of employee time and company money and is therefore an opportunity to contribute to the manufacturing industry.
2. Specifications of users' education and training requirements that were correct and complete would improve the chances of successful PPC system implementation [Duchessi et al 1988, Udo & Ehie 1996]. An approach capable of producing such specifications would be useful to manufacturers embarking on (or planning) an implementation, companies responsible for implementing the systems and companies responsible for delivering the associated education and training.
3. While the work of Ollie Wight and the APICS "crusade" may have done much to raise the profile of education, especially in the context of MRP / MRP II, there remains no published work, of any detail, in the area of education and training requirements specification for successful PPC system implementation. This is despite the fact that inadequate education and training remain key causes of implementation failure.
Since implementations continue to fail and education and training are still flagged as problems during implementation, conventional methods of determining who receives what education and training are evidently flawed. The most common method of "needs analysis" undertaken as part of the PPC system implementation process is not really a needs analysis at all - it is merely a crude mechanism of allocating people to standard courses offered by the software vendor [Jones et al 1998]. No account is taken of the current level of knowledge of the individuals for whom needs are being assessed, this may be the result of the software sellers' tendency to focus on training rather than education [Jones et al 1998].
3 Education and Training Requirements Specification Framework
To address the need for an effective approach to performing a needs analysis a framework has been developed for specifying the education requirements of personnel associated with PPC systems. The framework focuses on education rather than training because education is generic and training is system(brand)-specific. As such, a generic framework could be usefully applied to a greater number of manufacturing companies than could a similar tool that was tied to a specific software product.
The framework is based on the following logic [McClelland 1994, Bee & Bee 1994, Reid & Barrington 1997]:
· People in manufacturing organisations have specific Job roles
· Each Job role is responsible for a number of different Activities / functions / tasks
· In order to perform a particular Activity competently a person needs to know certain information (or Concepts)
The Activities and Concepts contained in the framework are relevant to production planning & control systems. The framework works on the basis that each individual is involved with a number of different Activities. In order to perform the Activities, the person responsible for them needs to know about a number of different Concepts. These relationships between Activities and Concepts are shown in Figure 2.
Hence, by determining an individual's Activity profile the associated Required knowledge profile can be derived. The person's Required knowledge profile can then be compared with their Actual knowledge profile with the gaps between the profiles representing the educational needs of that person.
Activity profiles and Knowledge profiles are determined using questionnaires. These questionnaires allow different levels of involvement with Activities and knowledge of the Concepts to be specified and in so doing make the resulting specifications yielded by the framework more detailed and accurate. There are four levels of Involvement and four levels of Knowledge defined in the framework, as follows:
Activity Involvement Levels:
None: No involvement in the Activity
Limited: Being involved in an Activity indirectly or in a superficial sense.
Some: Being involved in an Activity which does not constitute a major part of the person's job description. The involvement may be in sone sort of assisting or overseeing role.
Detailed: Being actively involved in an Activity, generally on a day-to-day basis. The Activity is likely to be a significant part of this individual's job description
None: No knowledge required of the Concept.
Awareness: Conceptual background information whereby an individual has some knowledge of the topic under consideration.
Overview: The level of understanding that a person requires to effectively manage the day to day activities. (This may be higher level conceptual information as opposed to a thorough understanding of the topic.)
Detailed: The level of understanding required of a particular topic by an individual whose job activities necessitate a thorough understanding of the topic.
The Required Knowledge profiles associated with each Activity act as benchmarks against which the Actual knowledge profiles of people involved with the Activities are compared. A need for education is flagged where the Required Knowledge level of a Concept is greater than the Actual knowledge level the person has of the Concept.
The Activities and Concepts and the tentative links between them were initially compiled with reference to the available literature. Extensive empirical work was then undertaken to refine the Activities and Concepts and also to determine the Knowledge level that should be associated with each Activity - Concept link, i.e. the strength of the relationship. The Required knowledge profiles were compiled with the help of 30 experienced industrialists from four different good-practice MRP (II) companies.
Following the population of the framework with valid Activities, Concepts and relationships, the framework was converted into a computer-based application. Computerisation was necessary given the amount of data processing associated with the production of education needs specifications. The framework was computerised using MSAccess97 and the resulting tool stores basic information about the company and people whose needs are being analysed and details about the Activities the people are involved with and their respective Knowledge profiles are also stored. The needs specifications can either be printed off as reports or can be viewed interactively on-screen.
For example, Figure 3 shows the window via which data regarding the Activities a person is involved with are entered into the computer tool, i.e. the Activity Involvement Questionnaire. The Activities are listed on the left and the user checks the appropriate box on the right of the Activity under the column that best describes the user's level of involvement with the Activity.
Figure 4 shows the result of a drill-down enquiry showing the comparison of the person's Actual Knowledge profile with the Required Knowledge profile in the context of the selected Activity. On the right of the screen in the middle, the "Key to the Knowledge Levels" is listed. The key ascribes a numerical value to each of the Knowledge levels so that the Required and Actual knowledge profiles can be plotted graphically in a suitable and effective format, i.e. radar diagrams [Thorsteinsson 1997].
The profiles are shown in the radar diagram on the left of the screen, the darker shaded region representing the Actual Knowledge profile of the person and the lighter shaded region representing the Required Knowledge profile. Note that the Actual sits on top of the Required knowledge profile, thereby showing that any education needs are immediately identifiable as they are depicted by the lighter shaded areas, i.e. where the Required exceeds the Actual knowledge level. The information represented in the radar diagram is presented in text format in the list box in the bottom right of the screen.
The above-described methodology is more structured than the often ad hoc and unscientific method of allocation of people to courses which is the norm during PPC implementations [Jones et al 1998]. Further, the framework described in this section yields education requirements specifications that are justifiable, i.e. the sources of the requirements are easily identifiable – that is, the Activities causing the requirements are presented. This feature of the framework means that use of this approach is more likely to result in meaningful debate and decisions regarding the education and training of personnel.
4 Testing & Validation of the Framework
This section of the paper details the testing of the approach, content of the education requirements specification framework and the results output from the education needs assessment. In order to achieve this the nature of the participating companies, the process of data gathering and analysis and feeding back of framework recommendations and the results of analysing participant's feedback are also outlined.
4.1 Aims of the Framework Testing
The need to test the framework in depth coupled with the framework’s complexity made case studies the most appropriate research design during the testing phase of the project [Yin 1994]. This meant that while the framework could be tested in a number of different companies by people holding a variety of job roles, no attempt could, or should, be made to analyse the results using statistical techniques. That is, the validity of the framework is determined with reference to analytical techniques rather than statistical techniques [Yin 1994].
The education requirements specification framework was tested at three different levels, namely the:
1. Overall approach to education requirements specification
2. Framework and its contents, i.e. Involvement and Knowledge levels, Activities, Concepts and relationships between them
3. Format of the report detailing a person's education requirements, i.e. the output from the computerised framework
Specifically, the aims of testing the framework were to determine:
whether the developed education requirements specification approach is
· Valid and logical
· Effective at determining a person's education requirements
· Better than the current method used in the company
also, whether the education requirements specification framework contents are
· Clear and understandable
· Complete / comprehensive
· At the appropriate level of detail
and whether the education requirements specification report format presents the results in a way that is
· Well structured and easy to follow
The following section of the paper profiles the companies used to test the education requirements specification framework.
4.2 Companies Used to Test the Framework
In order to test the framework that had been developed it was necessary to enlist the co-operation of people from appropriate companies, i.e. manufacturers using, or planning to implement, PPC (Production Planning & Control) systems with operations in the UK. A strategic approach was taken to the recruitment of suitable companies. Firstly, only companies considered likely to be interested in the research were contacted, and secondly, a note describing the project was placed in a trade journal requesting that any interested parties contact the researcher.
People from a total of 7 different companies were used to test the education requirements framework, the profiles of these companies are outlined below:
The main line of business of this company is the manufacture of aerostructures, i.e. fuselage barrels, flight control surfaces, engine nacelle systems and defence systems, as such the company will hereon be referred to as "Aerostructures". Aerostructures employs 9,000 people, of which 1,500 are manufacturing-related, and its gross profit for 1998 was approximately £40million. Aerostructures operates a bespoke MRP II system.
The main line of business of this company is the manufacture of touring caravans and motorhomes, having one third UK caravan market. Caravans is a make-to-order / make-to-stock company and has an annual turnover around £120million shipping approximately 10,000 units a year.
· Diesel Engines
The main line of business of this company is the manufacture of medium speed diesel engines for industrial, marine and rail-traction applications. Diesel Engines is a make-to-order company employing 603 people 209 of which being direct manufacturing and its annual turnover is approximately £60million. Diesel Engines uses the OMAC MRP II system.
· Electrical Motors
This company manufactures medium range (1-30 horsepower) electrical motors. Electrical Motors is a combination of make-to-stock and make-to-order company types which employs approximately 600 people, half of whom are in manufacturing. Electrical Motors has an annual turnover of approximately £50million and the bespoke MRP system that has evolved over the past couple of decades is scheduled to be replaced by the JBA 21 system.
The main line of business of this company is the manufacture of fastening systems some approximately a quarter of which are used by the aerospace industry. Fasteners is predominantly a make-to-stock company employing approximately 800 people, half of which are direct manufacturing and its turnover is in the region of £100million per annum. Fasteners "went live" with the SAP /R3 ERP system towards the end of 1998.
· Oilfield Equipment
The main line of business of the selected company is the manufacture of pressure containing products / systems for the off-shore oil industry. Oilfield Equipment is predominantly an engineer-to-order company employing 600 people 250 of whom are direct. The annual turnover of Oilfield Equipment is approximately £100million. Oilfield Equipment uses the SAP system along with a project management software application to plan and control their production operation.
· Metal Cabinets
This company is a leading manufacturer of metal cabinets for the telecommunications industry. The company was acquired in 1996 by a $750million US corporation having manufacturing plants in North America, Europe and China and employing 4,400 people. 500 people work for Metal Cabinets which is a make-to-order company that has been using the IMPCOM MRP II system for approximately 7 years.
Table 1 shows the main characteristics of the companies in tabular format. Presenting company details in this way is useful as it demonstrates the breadth of company types in which the needs specification framework has been tested.
Table 1: Characteristics of the Companies Used to Test the Framework
The same procedure was followed in each of the companies that participated in the testing of the framework. This framework testing procedure, i.e. the data collection, analysis and subsequent feedback of results to the participant, is outlined in the following section of the paper.
4.3 Data Collection, Analysis & Feedback Procedures
4.3.1 Data Collection, Entry & Analysis Procedures
Once a main contact had been established in a company and they had agreed to participate the data collection process then began in earnest. The main contact in each company was sent the Activity Involvement Questionnaire with instructions to distribute it to a variety of people from different departments within their organisation who may deal with the PPC system. Once individuals had completed their questionnaires they gave them back to the co-ordinator in the participating company and they were subsequently returned for data entry and analysis.
The Activity Involvement Questionnaire consisted of a list of the Activities contained in the framework with associated explanations. On the right of each page, next to each Activity, there were four tick boxes, one for each Involvement level. The participant would complete the form by reading the Activity and then placing a tick in the box indicating the appropriate level of involvement. Figure 5 shows the general layout of the Activity Involvement questionnaire.
Personnel details, such as name, job description, years in current position and so on, and their questionnaire responses were entered into the computerised tool. When all of the promised questionnaires from a company had been received and entered into the tool, or the agreed deadline date passed, the second round of questionnaires, with associated instructions for completing, were printed and mailed.
The second round questionnaire was tailored to the responses given on the first questionnaire and was essentially the alphabetically sorted list of Concepts that were linked to the Activities that the person was involved with. Next to each Concept on their questionnaires the respondents were required to indicate which of the four Knowledge levels in the framework best described their current level of Knowledge of the Concept. This was done by circling or ticking the relevant knowledge level.
The data on the completed questionnaires were entered into the computerised tool. Once a person’s Actual Knowledge profile was stored in the database it was then possible to compare the Actual and Required Knowledge profiles at Activity level, i.e. to perform a gap analysis. In so doing the potential Knowledge shortfalls of the person could be specified. Further, any Knowledge shortfall was specified in the context of the Activity that had given rise to the shortfall.
Personalised reports detailing the results of the comparison of Actual and Required Knowledge profiles were printed for each participant. Arrangements were made with site co-ordinators for the researcher to visit the company and formally feedback the results of the education requirements specification to each participant in turn. Feedback sessions tended to be open-ended and generally lasted between 30 minutes and 3 hours. At the end of each feedback session the person was given a feedback questionnaire which they were asked to complete and return once they had had a more detailed look at their education requirements specification report and its contents.
Participants completed their feedback questionnaires and returned them along with any additional comments. The latter part of this paper discusses the feedback questionnaire results and comments that were made about the education requirements specification approach and personal reports.
4.3.2 Feedback Sessions
It was the intention that feedback sessions could be arranged at all of the companies that had taken part in testing the education requirements specification framework. There were a number of reasons for delivering the feedback formally and in person, for instance, it enabled the:
· corroboration of the information the individual had put on his questionnaires (i.e. triangulation to increase the validity of results)
· determination of if / how the staff education and training needs were assessed (i.e. collection of relevant background information)
· format of the report to be explained (i.e. to reduce confusion and increase comprehension)
· contents of the reports to be discussed (i.e. to determine any particular aspects of the framework / report that were suspect or difficult to understand)
· participant to ask questions about the project / results and receive immediate response (i.e. enabled the collection of issues which participants needed clarifying so that modifications could be made to increase clarity for instance)
· determination of misunderstanding / problems with the report (i.e. so that the report format could be rectified in time for subsequent feedback sessions at other companies)
· detection of any shortcomings of the explanations, general misconceptions etc. (i.e. so that the framework could be made more accurate and generic)
· reiteration of the importance of honesty and accuracy to the participants when they were completing their feedback questionnaires (i.e. this request combined, with the participants completing the forms after the researcher had left, helped to ensure the accuracy and freedom from bias of questionnaire responses)
4.3.3 Feedback Questionnaire
A paper-based questionnaire was developed for the people involved with the testing of the framework to complete and return. The structured questionnaire elicited assessments regarding different aspects of the requirements specification framework that had been developed namely:
· The approach to education requirements specification
· The specification of an individual's education requirements (i.e. the output from the framework)
· The format of the education requirements specification report
· The PPC-related Activities
· The PPC Concepts and definitions
· The Relationships Between Activities and Concepts
· The Activity Involvement Levels
· The Concept Knowledge Levels
The project co-ordinators from the participating companies tended to be managers having considerable experience and a broad overview of the company activities whereas many of the other people completing the forms had narrower roles and a detailed involvement with particular Activities.
Due to the differences in experience and seniority of the participants two versions of the feedback questionnaire were produced, one containing a subset of the questions in the other. The larger of the two questionnaires included questions about the framework which were considered inappropriate to ask of people with narrow roles. For instance, it was considered appropriate to ask co-ordinators whether the Activities in the framework were applicable to companies operating PPC systems in general, whereas the other respondents were only asked to comment on the Activities that they were specifically involved with.
4.4 Feedback Questionnaire Results
A total of 28 people from the 7 participating companies completed and returned feedback questionnaires for analysis. There were representations from a variety of job roles from the departments most relevant to the testing of the framework, i.e. Production, Inventory, Purchasing, Sales, Planning, and Engineering. The Job titles of some of the people who completed the feedback questionnaires are shown in Table 2.
Table 2: Job Titles of Some of the People Who Tested the Framework
The results from the feedback questionnaires are presented in Tables 3 & 4. Two levels of detail are shown in Table 3 & 4, that is, the results are presented for each question averaged across all participating companies (columns 1-4) and also for each specific company (columns 1 & 5-11). Note:
· All numbers shown are percentages of responses, and those shown in columns 5-11 are the percentage of responses that were favourable.
· There are a number of instances of “utc” this means that the person answering the question was “unable to comment”. For instance, the project co-ordinator from Caravans was the Human Resource Manager and hence was not qualified to answer as to whether or not the list of Activities was complete etc.
· A tick,“Y”, in column 5-11 indicates that all the people responding to that question replied positively (i.e. 100% approval).
· Conversely, a cross, “N”, indicates that none of the people from that company replied positively to the question (i.e. 0% approval, note that this could indicate the respondents were unsure rather than disapproving).
The managers responsible for the co-ordination of involvement with the project at each site completed questionnaires containing the questions detailed in Table 3. All participants were asked the questions listed in Table 4.
* With the exception of Electrical Motors, all of the companies used the yearly or half-yearly appraisals as the main vehicle via which information was gathered for the purposes of determining staff training and education needs. Electrical Motors had no such approach in place.
Table 3: Feedback Questions & Responses From the Co-ordinators Only
Table 4: Feedback Questions & Responses From All Participants
The results presented in Table 3, i.e. the views offered by the Co-ordinators only, were very positive with only one of the 12 questions eliciting a negative response. The co-ordinator from Electrical Motors did not consider the Activities contained in the framework to be relevant to individuals in his company that used their MRP system. However he did believe that the Activities were relevant to companies using MRP II in general and that the list of Activities was complete, his view therefore could be explained by the fact that Electrical Motors run an MRP system rather than an MRP II system and as such the Activities that were presented would, to a large extent, be irrelevant to their operations.
All of the co-ordinators that were able to offer an opinion believed the requirements specification approach to be effective, useful to companies implementing MRP II systems and, importantly, better than the systems their companies currently used for specifying education requirements. Also the requirements specification reports were considered to contain results at the appropriate level of detail and to be useful for the purposes of determining course content / attendances. Further, the Activities were considered to be generic and at the correct level of detail for determining education requirements and likewise the Concepts were also considered to be generic and complete.
The results presented in Table 4, i.e. the views offered by the all of the participants, showed that 3 questions received wholly positive responses. The aspects of the education requirements specification approach that received unanimous approval were that it was considered to be valid and logical, the Concepts were correctly defined and that a person's Knowledge profile could be faithfully presented in the context of the relevant Activities. The remainder of the questions, i.e. those that did not receive unanimously favourable responses, are discussed below.
The vast majority approved of the format of the feedback report, one person from Oilfield Equipment disapproved.
Three people considered the Required Knowledge profiles associated with Activities to be inaccurate. These three people consisted of two purchasing personnel, from Diesel Engines and Electrical Motors, and a database / system administrator from Oilfield Equipment. However, the Required Knowledge profiles were considered to be correct by the other purchasing and database / systems administration personnel that were involved with testing the framework.
Two people, both from Electrical Motors, considered the Activities to be incorrect. On further consultation with the relevant individuals it became clear that their comments were directed toward the complete set of Activities contained in the framework rather than just to those Activities with which they were involved and that this view was a statement about the lack of relevance to their particular job roles. That is, because these individuals were only involved with a relatively small percentage of the Activities they viewed the Activities, in general, as being incorrect. The employees were involved with 11 and 16 Activities which is low compared to the average of over 40 Activities per person. The line manager of one of the individuals, who was involved with all of the Activities that his subordinate was as well as some others, considered the Activities to be correct.
One respondent did not think the Concepts were relevant to his work role in the Purchasing department of Diesel Engines, the other two buyers that took part in the study however, considered the Concepts to be relevant to their jobs.
Two people considered the Activity - Concept relationships to be incorrect, namely, a purchasing person from Oilfield Equipment and the database administrator of Electrical Motors. The remainder, including others from purchasing and database / system administration roles, considered the Concepts associated with the Activities to be the correct ones.
Three people, two from Oilfield Equipment and one from Electrical Motors considered the list of Concepts linked to the Activities they were involved with to be incomplete. With the help of these individuals the missing Concepts and relationships were added to the framework.
One person from Oilfield Equipment was unsure whether or not the process of allocation of Involvement levels to Activities was repeatable. The remainder all considered the process of allocating Involvement levels to be repeatable.
Several people considered that the Involvement levels and their descriptions were not sufficiently clear. Criticisms were that there were “insufficient shades” and that there was some confusion between adjacent levels. The terminology may need to be revised as a result, however, the majority of the respondents believed the Involvement levels to be both clear and understandable.
The project co-ordinator of Fasteners thought that 5 or 6 levels would be preferable to the 4 that the framework currently uses. All other respondents considered 4 to be an adequate number. It was felt that if more levels were introduced then the difference between adjacent levels would decrease and this would lead to more confusion.
None of the people who tested the framework thought that the process of allocating Knowledge levels to Concepts was unrepeatable, however, one person was not sure whether the process was repeatable or not.
All of the people who thought the Involvement levels to be unclear also considered the Knowledge levels to be unclear.
As for the Involvement levels the project co-ordinator of Fasteners thought there to be an insufficient number of Knowledge levels. The database administrator of Electrical Motors was unsure whether four Knowledge levels was the optimum number or not. The other respondents considered four to be an adequate number of Knowledge levels.
The majority of people considered the detailed information, that formed the basis of the education requirements specification, was presented in an effective way. Two people did not think the profiles were presented well in the report.
Four of the respondents did not think that the radar diagrams were an effective way of presenting information. This is possibly due to the fact that the radar diagram as a means of presenting information was new to these individuals and perhaps more explanation of the diagrams on the reports would have reduced the number of unfavourable responses. Appropriate changes were made to the explanations before the final stage of testing was undertaken. This was the most contentious question on the questionnaire - and yet over four fifths of the participants considered the diagrams to be effective.
The report was generally considered to be well structured and easy to follow.
The summarised information at the start of the education requirements specification report was well received with only 3 people doubting its usefulness. It is interesting to note that 2 of these had not completed the Knowledge profile questionnaires and hence summary statistics were not as detailed as they would have been if information had been provided that could be compared to the Required Knowledge profiles (as was intended). Also, the third person was not able to have the report fedback to him in person hence this may indicate that the explanatory notes associated with the report, especially in the context of the summary statistics, would benefit from being revised and simplified.
The results demonstrate that the approach in general is a valid, logical and valuable strategy for determining the education requirements of personnel in the context of their particular job roles. In the specific context of manufacturing planning and control systems it was shown that the framework was suitable and was an effective method of specifying the education requirements for personnel using MRP / MRP II systems.
An effective method of specifying education and training requirements of personnel in the company implementing the MPC system would assist the education and training processes and likewise the implementation process in general. A framework for specifying staff education requirements in the specific context of manufacturing resource planning systems was developed, computerised and tested in industry.
The results of the testing stage of the research showed the Activities in the framework to be generic and complete. Likewise the Concepts were also considered to be generic and comprehensive and were associated with the appropriate Activities. The overall approach to education requirements specification was shown to be valid, logical and of value. The results also showed that the MRP II education specification framework that was developed was accurate, relevant and effective at / useful for specifying the education requirements of personnel in companies using MRP / MRP II systems.
In general the framework and results it yielded were well received by the industrialists who took part in empirical testing. A number of issues were flagged by some individuals that may require further exploration or amendments to the model. The five (of the seven) co-ordinators who were able to offer an opinion considered the education requirements specification approach to be not only effective and useful to companies implementing PPC systems, but also to be better than the systems their companies currently used for specifying education requirements.
Further, the requirements specification reports were viewed as containing results at the appropriate level of detail making them useful for the purposes of determining course content / attendances.
The framework, described in this paper, can make a significant contribution to assessing the educational requirements of personnel associated with the implementation of Production Planning and Control systems.
The authors are grateful to the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the award of a research grant that made it possible to undertake this work.
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Figure 1: The Education & Training Cycle
Figure 2: Activity - Concept Relationships
Figure 3: The Activity Involvement Questionnaire
Figure 4: Display of the Requirement for Education in the Context of an Activity
Figure 5: Activity Involvement Questionnaire.
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