Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2012

Working with (in)formal production systems

I have just finished reading a book from the 1980s about MRPII implementations, something I found on Ebay a couple of months ago (and something generally hard to come across to buy). One of the recurring themes in the book was about moving away from informal systems (and workarounds) towards making a formal system work. I had to check the date of the book... It's funny how the principles of production and logic are timeless, as are the ways in which people attempt to override them! Giles Smartspeed Consulting Limited Taking the frustration out of on time delivery.

Now you have to put in the hard work

Once we have set up our new processes of working, and have developed our action plans to make the improvements we want in our businesses then it is now time for us to do the hard work. Many times I have seen brilliant plans, and excellent production systems, fail due to a lack of discipline and hard work. As much I like to help people to develop easier ways working there are just some jobs that require a degree of 'grind'. It is one thing to establish and define the daily routines required to make a business function or process work perfectly, but it is another entirely to establish those habits and make the plans a reality. If you are in the position where you have a fantastic process and yet it is not yielding the results you want it to generate, then it might be time to look at how you support the key players in your team and reinforce the message of what is required to happen when. Smartspeed Consulting Limited Taking the frustration out of on time delivery.

Don't (just) accept the status quo

When you are embarking on process improvement activities don't just accept the same old way of working that you always have. If you fail to challenge the things that don't work correctly, you will find that you are unable to make the level of progress you are surely capable of making. Tasks in the business that are there to help work around problems in the system need to be challenged head-on. This may require some root cause analysis work and a dash of creativity when you are undertaking this work. Ensuring that people who operate various parts of your business processes understand the idea of closed loop feedback is essential. We can fix our problems if we don't bury our heads in the sand. Many people in business will accept the way things are rather than get uncomfortable and challenge the way that things are happening. This is especially apparent when people operate computer software systems such as MRP/ERP. Quite often the designers of the software understand your

Lead Time Reduction and 4 x 100m Women's World Records

It was really interesting for me to watch the women's 4 x 100m relay race last night, from a business process improvement perspective. For years I have referred to the way that a business flows work between its functions as a relay race, with smooth transitions being the order of the day. Last night's race was superb to watch, with a flurry of legs and arms with an almost slow motion passing of the baton occurring at the end of each leg of the race. Business can be frenetic, but the passing of work between functions of a business can still be smooth, timely, appropriate and of a high quality. By focussing on the handovers in your business you can reduce the lead time it takes your business to deliver it's products and services and this can improve both the customer service you offer and the profit you retain. Taking this lesson from the American team is certainly worth thinking about. Giles P.S. A video of the race can be seen here -

Where's the process improvement data?

When you are engaging in process simplification, or process re-engineering, then having some data to hand is absolutely pivotal to the work you are doing. You do not need to have full unit cost information available before you do some form of business process re-engineering, but having no data whatsoever is a recipe for disaster when it comes to doing this kind of improvement work. I've seen on numerous occasions businesses attempt to do business process re-engineering when they have no tangible evidence to work on and validate these decisions. If this is you then please stop! Take the time to go and gather some data, to get some facts and figures around your business processes. You will save a lot of time in the long term if you go and get this information, too many businesses go full steam ahead without having any facts to back up the conversations that ensue once this process get started. If you're struggling to work out what kind of data you need then come up

Vitamin Pills versus Painkillers: Process Improvement Analogy

Is your business improvement like painkillers or vitamin pills? One of the obvious things to do when you're practicing process improvement techniques is to find out what approach you are taking. Are you proactive or reactive? 'Aches and pains' in your business are a great way of finding areas to focus proactively upon. Many people ignore them and do not look for the root causes behind the headaches in their business, leaving them unable to find a good way to improve the business' performance until it gets too late. Many times improvement activities are seen as some sort of remedy when a part of the business is broken, akin to a broken leg, but it doesn't have to be like this. If you don't currently have a 'broken leg' then you can view business process improvement activity as vitamin pills, a way to improve your day-to-day productivity without having to wait for some kind of major problem to occur and instigate change. So a decision has