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Models, tools and systems to realise a fast reactive extended enterprise to meet the customers demand in diverse markets

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Giving a FREEhand to modern business

The contemporary business world is challenged by the new demands that competitiveness sets. In order to address this issue, modern enterprises need to cooperate to succeed or even survive. The Fast Reactive Extended Enterprise (FREE) is a knowledge-based system developed to establish the necessary framework for an extended enterprise, not only to meet customers' needs but also to fulfil their company's own expectations in diverse markets.

Digital Economy

Successful collaboration in large consortia or enterprises is often difficult because of the problems encountered in achieving business objectives. This is not mainly due to technical difficulties, but it is also related to people. Understanding that in order to be successful collaboration has to be grounded on a common basis that the partners will set, both technological (ICT facilities) and organisational (people, processes, structure and culture) aspects should be incorporated within. The FREE approach is a progressive way towards a multi-partner collaboration environment and has integrated useful management and improvement support tools for total quality management of a running enterprise. Focusing on customer needs and expectations, a shared leadership between the FREE partners is built that contributes to establish and develop the mission and values of the FREE promoting them across the whole organisation. Then, the mission and values are turned into a common set of business and strategic goals. In this way a climate of respect and trust is cultivated between partners. The networked organisation also includes highly flexible teams with interdisciplinary tasks for achieving clear objectives. It is worth mentioning that human resources are empowered to take decisions in a decentralised manner within interoperable and shared processes, services and policies to accomplish the organisation's goals. The success of the virtual organisation is founded upon establishing effective communication and collaboration processes between all people involved in the FREE enterprise for the efficient management of resources in terms of technology and knowledge. Taking into account that measurement is a key component of the quality improvement process, the organisational model is analysed and assessed, both statically and dynamically, periodically and continuously. The key quality improvement mechanisms of FREE organisation are: an organisational model, for identification of the aspects and the relationships needed to define the scope of any relevant quality improvement process; a Capability Assessment Framework for tracking down actual improvements in project practices; a Performance Measurement Method with indicators for measuring the actual cost-effective achievements; and an Improvement Framework with practical suggestions and guidance for providing management support. The FREE model is an advanced international business practices development system originating from both Total Quality Management and agile (fast-reactive) extended enterprise philosophies. This innovation is harmonised with two recent and relevant ideas, the Agile Manufacturing and the Maturity frameworks, leading to a more customer-oriented and reactive way of doing business. Adoption of the FREE system by companies will lead to a transition from the traditional operational mode to a new generation enterprise with all the advantages involved. This enterprise will produce new products and provide new services that are more sophisticated and more appealing to customers since the enterprise exploits a multidisciplinary pool of expertise. At the same time, there are new potential markets for the collaborating organizations given that they access information and emerging technologies faster, thus resulting in an increasing speed of technological innovations.

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