Program Manager

"There may be someone in this house who actually knows everything about running exactly that kind of project. And this knowledge is crazy important."

I started in Aasted in a post-doc position. In the beginning, we tried to sketch out how such a project could look. As a post-doc, you try to use the theory you have made; we try it out and get it implemented right here in the company. But if you wish to turn around the way programs are run or want to rethink some of the most fundamental ways of making products and running a business, you need to have the management to care and be on board with it - otherwise, you will make no progress. And I felt from the beginning that this was something they wanted to do and an area in which Aasted had its focus.

We have a great deal of knowledge in Aasted

Program Management is a new department in Aasted, so we're still figuring out what such a department needs. The department's main project is something we call product configuration. We take knowledge about our products and put as much as possible into an IT system that can help us handle all this knowledge.

We have a great deal of knowledge in Aasted about all our individual processes. If you want to buy a chocolate mold, we know a lot about the given machine. But what we often do is put all these different machines into combined lines and bigger solutions than just that one mold. We have some skilled project managers to integrate these machines and make it work. But we also often see that it is a challenge because the situation is different every single time – every customer has its individual need. It is never quite the same machine. Our knowledge about these machines was never really gathered in one place, and that is one of the reasons we think that Program Management makes sense. It's like having a central place where we try to gather some of our knowledge about the overall solutions we make in Aasted. These systems actually help control all the complex expertise about how to assemble these machines to bigger solutions. In the end, they help with the pricing and making a sales offer.

Knowledge exists spread across the house, and some of it sits with people who have had many different roles in Aasted and have been with it for a long time. There may be someone in this house who actually knows everything about running exactly that kind of project. And this knowledge is crazy important if we want to consolidate these slightly larger lines that we make and if we want to be sure that we now do it right each and every time and that design knowledge is documented correctly.

Success to me is making a choice that means something to Aasted

The whole idea that it was time to start up this product configuration is something that we have been joking about for several years. But now, we have made a breakthrough that is mentioned in Aasted's strategy description as one of the goals. To me, that is pretty cool.

Right now, Program Management is a purely strategic department, where we are trying to make some slightly bigger decisions and set things in motion, which will hopefully help Aasted in the long run. I come with a very theoretical background; you simply go and look at the different types of companies and different strategies for product development and how to optimize the product program you have today. Success to me is when we make a choice that means something to Aasted. If we can influence something strategically and my team can present it and discuss it with the management. When we make some decisions based on our theory, and they simply tell us, "Okay, that's the way we will move forward now." That's a success to me.

One of my previous colleagues had made an excellent and specific project with our tempering programs about thinking through how it works: What types of screws, bolts and pieces of steel do we use? How do we screw it together? Could we do it smarter? What came out of that project was that we saw that we could use around half of the components we use today and still make the same machines. The effect of this is enormous. This means that we only need to buy half of the parts we usually buy and only use half the storage space - and it would even be more accessible for our service engineers to install these machines. Imagine that we in Program Management try to do that, but on a bigger scale on our combined lines.

– Martin