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Showing posts from May, 2013

Revised and Updated Free Report

Just a quick note to let you know that our free report 'You're Late!!!' has been updated today. It now includes expanded action points to help you improve your on time delivery performance. To get your copy either: 1 - Go back to the link in your email and download the new version. 2 - Sign up for the free report by clicking here . Giles Johnston Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Notes and Comments on Time Management

Recently I was asked for my comments on time management whilst working with an Operations Management team. I thought it would be worthwhile sharing my notes on this blog. Time expands and contracts to fill the time available – schedule the important tasks early into your day. Time management is not just about where and when, but what and why. Deciding what tasks will give you the biggest payback in terms of results needs to be considered when planning your day / routines. Hence, know what is important and what is trivial. Planning – what needs to be done in what sequence. Scheduling – when the planned items needs to be done. Routines yield consistency and help you to be proactive in your role. Important and difficult tasks should be tackled first.* Effectiveness first, then efficiency. Once you have the right tasks you can then find a better way to do the tasks to free up time. Once the routines are complete you can move onto (mini) projects, whether this is managing

How to Stop Improvement Projects From Stalling

Have you ever felt the frustration of watching an improvement project stall, fall over and the benefits never being realised? I’ve seen quite a few projects over the years stalling.  Thankfully I have been able to help get them back on track, allowing my clients to get the results they wanted. Just recently I was involved in another similar project, one that was going off track. This got me thinking about the way I fix this particular problem. This month’s article covers the main steps I follow to get projects back on track. Step One – Clarify the Objectives Probably the biggest offender is the lack of clarity around the specifics of the project. Vague objectives lead to confusion. Reducing or confirming the scope of the project, and getting detailed on what you want to experience once the project is completed, can make a big difference. Put it in writing for reference. Step Two – Clarify the Mechanics / Top Level Plan How the project will unfold and what will need to happ

Plant the Seed of an Idea

When you are discussing a potential  business improvement idea it can often be worthwhile to put the idea in someone's head and leave it there for a while. The mind usually solves problems at its own rate, and giving people enough time to mull it over can usually produce better improvement idea results than when we force people to agree in a meeting situation. Developing the ideas in a two part strategy can appear to be slow and sluggish, but is another example of the 'tortoise and the hare' in action. Better solutions are worth the (short) wait. Of course, don't employ the very common alternative (to the one off meeting approach) of the infinite meeting method. This is where you never close the loop to commence work on a project! Giles Johnston Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

The Double Hockey Stick

If you have read other blog posts on this site you may have come across me writing about the hockey stick effect. This is the term often used to describe the uneven output many factory based businesses experience towards the end of the month. Recently I have witnessed a couple of businesses who have a double hockey stick effect in their business. The order book is front loaded in the month (i.e. their planning doesn’t go much past the first week and a half of the month) and the output is back loaded in terms of what really happens. There are two main things going on here. There is a lack of realism in the planning (let alone thoroughness) and there is a lack of control regarding throughput within the production side of the business. A good way to prevent this situation from occurring is to implement a formal sign off process to the production schedule. Every business has some kind of ‘rule of thumb’ that can inform you whether your plan is achievable. It is very rare tha

Get Clear on the Specifications for Your Process Improvement

Having been involved with a number of process improvement projects over the years I find it quite easy to tell which projects have been clearly scoped out and have a clear specification. Have you been part of a project that has developed ideas and new processes but never quite got to where it needed to be? If no one has clearly identified what the new process needs to do it can never be completed. Simple. So, if you find your projects are meandering and failing to complete then take the time to have a look at the specification you are working too... and tighten it up if you need to. Giles Johnston Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Wrong Sized Processes

The other day I saw a business that used tools and processes that didn't match the size of the business, let alone the nature of what they were trying to achieve. Instead of deciding what they wanted to achieve from their processes a member of their team, who was well meaning, created an absolute monster of a business system. Each process that made up their system was labour intensive. Stripping it down to its basic components and determining the purpose of each process was the starting place for creating a simpler, easier to use and more effective system. Re-designing only works properly if you know what you are designing for. Do you know the purpose of your business processes , and are they the right size for your business? Giles Johnston Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Only One Vision of the Future?

When we are planning for our future states we can run into the problem of becoming single minded. Being single minded is really useful at certain parts of our projects, such as when you have a project goal in your sights. It is less useful when we need to consider various options for improving how our business operates and it can be a simple process to determine just what constitutes an ‘ optimal process ’. I wrote a short book on this subject earlier this year and you can get your free sample from Amazon here . Giles Johnston Author, Consultant and Chartered Engineer

Stop Fighting Your MRP System

MRP systems have been around for a long time. The phrase MRP came into popular usage in the mid 1970s and although systems have gotten faster and more accessible they are still fundamentally the same. Sure, they have more bits and bobs connected to them now, but they still perform an aggregating function that can save many hours per day of laborious administration. So why is it that we find businesses fighting their systems? I find in many cases that the way the system is configured will determine how much you will have a fight on your hands. If you set up the system to mimic what you do (providing you are sane of course) then the system will do your work for you in a fraction of the time. If you set up the system in a way that doesn't incorporate your rules and logic then you find that the system is constantly trying to override what you are wanting to do. It’s like having two completely different people trying to do the same job. Should the above sound famil