To expand on the white paper Cut Waste and Improve Product Development Processes, Onix spoke with Hannes Rau, Stryker Instruments' Manager of New Product Development Systems, who recently led an enterprise search implementation.
Stryker is a global medical device company with $9.7 billion in annual sales. The company designs and manufacturers orthopaedics, medical, surgical, neurotechnology and spine products. Challenged with locating data and experiencing redundant rework and product duplication, the company turned to a purpose-built search solution for help.
What Were the Challenges You Needed to Solve?
Managing disparate sources of data used by R&D.
Several IT departments at Stryker are involved in decision-making for their respective information repositories. Groups of three to four people each manage various data storage entities such as file shares, the server infrastructure, SharePoint and others. Coordinating among these groups for data was generating bottlenecks.
Securing sensitive data.
Before implementing their search solution, Stryker was experiencing what Hannes terms security by obfuscation. Sensitive documents were stored on unrestricted file shares where people could stumble upon them. After implementation, Stryker has fewer worries about security administration for each data repository because their search tool limits audiences for sensitive information and manages user privileges.
Sourcing information for prior products.
Stryker was challenged finding information for their older product lines. Information to create a product change request or to investigate a complaint from the field was elusive. Often, the members of the original product team were not available, creating bottlenecks for the R&D group.
Completing audits efficiently.
While R&D engineers may know that information exists, they are often unable to locate a specific document to support an audit in file shares or paper binders. With the knowledge discovery solution now in place, they locate that information more quickly.
Describe Your Business Objectives
Regain time for R&D engineers.
The primary objective was to reduce the amount of time engineers searched for information. Searches averaging more than four hours a week per engineer were reduced to 1.4 hours per week per engineer after just one month of a partial implementation of the search solution. Overall, Stryker projects that the company will gain 3 percent of engineers’ time back by using enterprise search.
Reduce the cost of duplicate parts.
An ancillary objective was to lower the cost of duplicate parts. Post-implementation surveys and discussions have revealed that more efficient searches are helping to better manage parts information.
Provide quality with better search tools.
Though the funding proposal targeted R&D engineers, Stryker recognizes that the quality function also benefits from the search tool. If quality employees can’t find the right information to support a part or process, they might make assumptions or draw conclusions that are imperfect or incorrect, affecting the quality of the product long term.
Reduce time to market and increase innovation.
Although difficult to quantify, Stryker believes strongly that reduced time to market and more innovative products will result since they are not re-inventing the wheel.
How Did the Search Tool Impact the People Element?
After implementation, employees began sharing success stories. Mr. Rau relayed that after a several-hour unsuccessful search for test information to support an audit, the tool allowed him to locate the same information within minutes. And employees say they appreciate searching for all of their existing data in one aggregated repository. It transcends the cumbersome individual searches in multiple databases that were formerly required.
Mr. Rau said that the implementation has helped to reduce interruptions. “If I was looking for data but couldn't find it, I’d ask someone for it. I basically held up my colleague with the request.” And the interruption, adds Mr. Rau, causes distractions — and creates a snowball effect for the entire organization.” Stryker engineers and other users are starting to realize that using the departmental search engine as opposed to asking a colleague for information provides much quicker results and fewer interruptions.
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