Tag: rzeznikiewicz

Plan Ahead and Succeed

It is the time to set next year’s goals and expectations. You should not wait until the first of the year arrives and attempt to set the plan and goals for new year. We all have completed our pro forma for next year and estimated our EBITs, but have we created our strategic plans that will yield double digit growth? Estimating the financials for the upcoming year will not suffice and allow success. Below is a short list of initiatives that we should look at for the upcoming year.

1. Set your goals for cost of poor quality. Understand how you are going to measure it. Are you going to include the rework, the loss of productivity due to poor quality, customer returns and investigation costs, and repair costs? Whatever you measure in the upcoming year, assure that you show a reduction and have projects with milestones established to begin in January. Do not set yourself up for the next year by having a bad first quarter and chasing the year’s goals to recover those costs. Make your goal a reflection of projects you will manage and not a wish list. Spell out the plan’s expectations month by month with start dates, cost realization dates, project completion dates, and determine who the leader is for each project. Set your report out dates for the next year and schedule the team’s calendars to assure that teams know when they are going to review projects with the executive team.

2. Create a process improvement team and set expectations. You should know where your efficiency losses are and establish which ones you are going to tackle and the order and timeframe for those projects. Set a reasonable amount of tasks. Many businesses will create a wish list that is too large for the staffing. Scheduling too many tasks for your workforce can only lead to frustration, fractured efforts, and a disengaged workforce. Strategically assign those tasks, determine reasonable expectations, and set a detailed review schedule for the plan’s events on a regular basis. Become involved as a leader because your workforce will prioritize their efforts by the attention and involvement your leadership displays in the upcoming year.

3. Assure that you have an active environmental health and safety plan to improve the safety and ergonomics of your operation. Remember, people want to be treated fairly and they will engage more if you are concerned for their well-being. Strive to improve the ergonomics in the workplace. Recordable and lost time injuries are bad for a business’s reputation and finances, but they also can disengage a workforce quickly. Care about your employees and make it a passion to evolve the workplace to a safer environment. Embrace their concerns as you would your family members. They are your livelihood. If you do not have a methodology to collect the employee’s risks, hold a “stand-down” for four hours to collect ideas from employees. Take those ideas, Pareto them by risk to employees and aggressively burn them down. Assure the plan attacks these on a monthly basis. Form subcommittees to address these ideas. Everyone in the organization can take ownership of a task as safety is everyone’s job.

4. Train your employees early and on a repetitive regular schedule. You should have already met with your employees and determined their training needs. Now you must schedule a plan to deliver on those internal and external needs. Do not leave this as a human resource task. It is a leadership responsibility that our reports are enriching themselves each year. You may want to look at your most unproductive weeks in the previous years and declare them training weeks. This allows you to write off the week from deliveries and profit based on poor historical performance. Typically, the first week of the year, the week of July 4th and Labor Day week are poor performers as the previous quarter has just ended and people include additional vacation days to long weekends. Put training into this week and declare the week as a non-production week. Planning this activity allows customer commits to be maintained by overproduction in prior weeks and planned delivery commits pushed out of these weeks where possible.
5. Create production start plans that are visual and observable to all employees. Plan on Gemba walks daily and review these start plans. These plans are critical to success. If you start on time, you will finish on time. Don’t leave the plan’s execution to the planners and materials department to manage. All directly involved employees must understand the plan, discuss it daily at Gemba walks, and assure that procurement, operations, quality, and the materials department understands when the production starts for every job. This is critical for mixed model production. This plan is should not be in a notebook but must be displayed on some visual system that all employees can monitor. The more visuals you have in your company, the more self-managed it becomes.

Remember that strategic planning will assure 2016 will be better than 2015. Don’t wait until the year begins to invoke the plan as you will have an overly burden the last two quarters of the year. If you have not already shared your vision and plan with the entire organization, do it early in the year

Lean Practices in the Service Industry

Building a work cell can be confusing and difficult for someone with limited experience. Lets first define a work cell.  It can be a manufacturing cell, a service cell or a retail cell.  Most of what is described in academia is the manufacturing cell.  The rational is that most of academia knows how to invoke the theories of lean manufacturing and the standardization of work.  For the purpose of this article, I will describe some of the well know attributes and theories and how they apply to the service arena.  Lets take an example in the restaurant business.  The work cell can be defined as the person that greets the customer, the taking of an order, and the production of food and the closing of the event.

The hostess commonly looks at a map where table are circled and they determined what is open for seating. They may casually look at server’s load but very little efforts are placed in efficient deployments.  Events that will improve efficiency are the size of the groups seating, the time that the previous party was seated, and finally an estimate on the time term of each seating.  Let me explain the subjective rating in more detail.  If the restaurant is a group of football fans declared by their jerseys, one could assume that in a sports bar or restaurant the term of the seating will be lengthier.  This is opposition to those with a very young child that will probably get restless with too long of a stay.

You can observe how the proper placement of people can result in efficiency. The object of a restaurant process is to turn tables, balance server workload and provide good service.  Assure that a server has a balance of long stay, regular stay and short stay tables.  No one should be sat within the server’s realm within a less than fifteen minute time period.  A server should have a balance of small, medium and large parties. A simple coding of patrons seating with colored markers an erasable sheet will suffice.  The coding does not need to be exact but proper seating will allow maximum seating efficiency.  A simple program can be written for a facility having the logic automated.  This software would ask three questions and place the customers at the tables they will receive the best service.

The taking of the order should be simplified. Most menus are standard and there always can be a preprinted menu list where a server can check off an item and options.  Table orders should always be taken in a specific order, clockwise or counterclockwise, and should always start from a specific point, such as left seat nearest server first.  This allows zero error for interpretation of the order and allows anyone to deliver the food.  In a perfect work every server would have an electronic pad to directly input the order to the kitchen.  However, the cost of implanting this could be more than a facility could afford.

The processing of food should be standardized in some manner so that appetizers do not show up at the same time as the meal or after the meal. In addition, an order should be completed at the same time for a table so that all customers receive product simultaneously.  Order processing can be divided into class of food, processing time, food segmentation etc.  The primary goal is to assure that there is standard work that assures food is delivered for an order at the same time without judgmental interventions. Standard work can be created in some fashion by the preparers of the food and the serving staff.  One of the key initiatives for this effort is the regrouping of the team on a regular timeframe to assure that all staff can contribute to any standard work changes.  Visual systems can be employed to assure that the standard work is consistent and handoffs can occur without continuous verbal communications.

Finally, a series will determine how the food gets delivered to the customer. The delivery should be able to be completed by anyone in the staff as the orders were consistent and systemic to a seating chart.  There are many other details that need to be defined and explained, but the purpose of this paper was to describe how value stream analysis, work cell and flow analysis, and standard work definition can be completed for any industry to improve its efficiency.  Always believe in continuous improvement and hold regular reviews where operators of the cell may give their inputs and receive improved operational methodologies.