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Special projects


  • There are several acronyms on offer for the steps any special improvement project should follow

  • However, each offers much the same steps – for example:

    • 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 offers 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 for improving processes and tasks – some are more likely than others to produce the results required – cost benefit analyses (CBAs) of those short listed should always ensure they have proven track records

Task level projects:

  • There are usually many different tasks involved within one whole process

  • Often, the biggest sources of improvement lie between, not within, individual tasks, especially with waste of (paid) effort spent on work which is not RFT – Right First Time

  •  And 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

  •  Equally, there’s 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 doesn’t mean that productivity of a specific task doesn’t matter

  •  Why so?

  •  Because:

    • Some tasks cost a lot to complete, so any improvement could be useful

    • Some are on a 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 work slower than expected, and so reduce overall capacity

    • Some 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 – but some are more likely than others to produce the results required

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