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Special improvement projects

  • There are several acronyms on offer, each offering much the same steps, including:
    • DMAIC from Six Sigma = Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control
    • PDCA from Dr Edwards Deming = Plan, Do, Check, Amend
    • SREDIM from R. M. Currie and Work Study = Select, Record, Examine, Develop, Implement, Maintain

 

Organisation level projects

  • At organisation level, productivity improvement involves much more than squeezing the most out of existing resources – it looks for  opportunities to launch new products or services, to open up new markets or segments, or to restructure the business in some other major way

 

Process level projects

  • In most organisations, especially in the services sector where less attention has been paid to it than in manufacturing, the productivity of most processes could be improved by at least 20%, and many by over 50%
  • In a  majority of cases, it is the system or process that provides the potential for productivity improvement, not the workers employed – so the scope and means to exploit this potential should always be studied first, before consideration is given to ‘letting go’ workers
  • There’s many approach options available to improve processes and tasks – some are more likely than others to produce the results required – cost benefit analyses of those short listed should always include them having proven track records

 

Task level projects

  • There are usually many different tasks involved within one whole process
  • Usually, the biggest sources of improvement lie not in those tasks but in the waste of (paid) effort spent on unnecessary supply work, which is not RFT, or unwanted demand
  •  We also know that, occasionally, it can make more sense to keep a task team idle rather than have it produce more for stock when there’s no more demand for it, say
  •  And we’ve recognised that there’s often little point reducing, never mind optimising, the time taken per task if it makes virtually no difference to an overall ‘order cycle time’
  •  But that does not mean that productivity at task level doesn’t matter
  •  Why so?
  •  Because:
    • Some tasks cost a lot to complete, so any improvement could be useful
    • Some are on the process’s critical path and, if not ready to receive or supply work, will delay all others and have a major impact on the overall order cycle time
    • Some do less or work slower than expected, and so reduce overall capacity
    • Some may produce a high % of rework or rejects, further reducing overall process capacity and increasing costs
  • Hence, there’s many approach options available to improve task level productivity – some are more likely than others to produce the results required

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