Monday, 23 July 2018

Where do you focus your OTIF improvement activities?

When it comes to delivering on time, how much of your focus is on the early business process steps?

I find that many businesses might fixate on on time delivery to their customers (rightly so, of course) but don't look at what is going on at the stages before the final step.

Here are some ideas to whet your appetite when it comes to improving OTIF (On Time In Full) for your organisation.

Recognising and discussing the domino effect

Each step in your process feeds the next step. A failure to deliver on time at one of the upstream activities can snowball and really push out your deliveries.

Being aware of this phenomenon and having an ongoing discussion about this in your business is a good first step. If your team aren't willing to discuss this issue then it is unlikely to get resolved.

Make internal OTIF part of your normal conversation and change will be much easier later on.

Develop KPIs that support on time delivery

Most of us have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) within our businesses.

Do yours help you to drive the right kinds of process improvement within your business, or is it something that is reported on but never discussed / acted upon?

Having a good balance of process driven KPIs and output metrics can help you to get a better grasp of the situation. If you feel that you would benefit from this take a step back and make sure that all of your 'at cause' process actions are being measured.

Focus on processes starting on time

One of the biggest shifts many businesses can make, when it comes to improving OTIF scores, is to measure and focus on ensuring processes start on time. Starting late rarely leads to finishing on time, although many businesses try to get away with playing catch up.

This very narrow focus for continuous improvement can throw up all kinds of interesting discussions and revelations about the weaknesses present in your business. A sub-standard delivery performance is often a symptom of hidden failures upstream in the fulfilment process.

Focusing on starting processes on time, not just finishing on time, can lead to significant delivery gains for many businesses.

Ensure your feedback loops are feeding back

To ensure that you are making the right decisions in your day-to-day business you need to ensure that your feedback mechanisms are firing on all cylinders. A lot of people that I speak to (when we first meet) ignore these feedback loops and wonder why their decision making is so poor.

Once these same people realise that they are hindering their own management ability, and decent feedback loops are put in place, learning can take place. Learning leads to innovation and change. Change and innovation lead to results (good ones if we do it right!).

Make sure that your feedback loops are working properly and embrace continuous improvement in its most efficient and (possibly) brutal form.


improve on time delivery performance


Consider SLAs

I like the phrase 'rules of the game'. You know where you are with a game of Snakes and Ladders. In business it is less likely that we have defined 'what good looks like' and agreed on a set of rules.

Without clear expectations and requirements it is sometimes hard to be consistent with the achievement of internal standards and goals. However, it doesn't take much effort to agree on the 'handshakes' between functions and process owners.

If you have problems between functions in your business, some kind of Service Level Agreement (SLA) could really help you out.

Review how you manage your work queues

Finally, how do you regulate and adjust your work queues?

Effectively managing how work flows through and between process steps is essential to ensuring that the right things happen at the right time. If OTIF levels are poor then attention naturally shifts to the final step in the process. Attention needs to be focused on the front of the process, and throughout the process, in order to hit the levels of delivery performance that you want to achieve.

If this is an issue for you then I urge you to have a look at how you manage all of your work queues in your business.

Drive your internal OTIF performance

To achieve a good final OTIF delivery performance you need to make sure that you have all of your internal resources and processes aligned and managed.

There are quite a few points in this post, which I hope that you can use in your own business.

If you want some more ideas on improving on time delivery performance then don't forget to sign up for my regular email updates by using the sign up form below.


All the best,

Giles



About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.


Subscribe to my email updates and receive my on time delivery and productivity improvement guide:



Friday, 13 July 2018

Do you learn from your continuous improvement experiences?

I have the great fortune to work with a wide range of up and coming continuous improvement professionals. Some of them I get to mentor and some I only get to spend time with on projects. I have noticed a distinction within these groups; some progress a lot faster than others.

The individuals that progress their development faster than the other group aren’t necessarily better skilled, or have some other talent, but they do one thing the other group don’t:

They figure out what works and do more of it and what doesn’t work and do less of that.

Not exactly rocket science, but something that I strongly advocate to those that I mentor. These individuals reflect on what they are doing and what they have done and spot the lessons lying underneath the activity. The lessons themselves are unlikely to be the results of the activities, but more what was learned about carrying out the activities.

Lessons often include:
  • How to plan more effectively.
  • How to communicate more effectively.
  • How to get on well with others.
  • Getting results when the project is going pear-shaped.
  • Experimenting with ideas.
  • Developing solutions that are more impactful.
  • Making change happen.

So, here is my question for you. Are you learning from the changes you are working on, or are you just working on the changes?

If you get a chance to stop and reflect I promise you that it will be worth the investment in time.

And, if you want a structured format for carrying out these kinds of reviews, check out Making It Happen (my continuous improvement toolkit) and look for lesson one in the main section.



Try out my ideas with this free sample - click here - no sign up required



Have fun reflecting on your wins and losses,

Giles



About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The Risk of 'What Gets Measured Gets Managed'

I love the phrase 'what gets measured gets managed', it is so apt.

There is a downside to this phrase, however, and I saw it in action again last week.

One of my clients had a real issue with one of their business processes, it was under performing and causing a tangible knock on effect for the rest of the business.

key performance indicators
Available from Amazon and iTunes
They had already looked at their process, developed a metric to help measure the performance and, as the saying goes, it got managed.

At the same time this team took their eye off the ball with another one of their key processes and that started to go downhill.

We put a measure in place for the other process, established a degree of formality around their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - of which there were now two - and balanced out the management of the processes.

So, what is the lesson here?

Make sure that the team are measuring all of their key processes before the change is about to start.

In this case they weren't really measuring their processes, let alone reporting and managing against them. Their focus on one area pulled their performance to one side and caused a new problem.

Make sure that you balance out your measures / KPIs before you embark on any serious continuous improvement activities.


All the best,

Giles




About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Purchase my OTIF improvement course for only $20

on time delivery performance


It's discount time again!

If you would like to improve your OTIF (On Time In Full) delivery performance quickly then check out The OTIF Improvement Course.

Available as an immediate download, you will be able to review and implement my tried and tested management framework quickly. Templates, examples and step-by-step instructions are included with my course - all available immediately after purchase.

The best bit is (apart from the results) is that the course can be completed and implemented quickly.

Back to the discount... if you use the link below you will be able to purchase the course for $20, instead of the regular price of $47.

To find out more about the course - click here.

Remember to use discount code OTIF20 at the checkout, or use the link below to get your discount.



Here's to your new level of delivery performance,

Giles


About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.


Subscribe to my email updates and receive my on time delivery and productivity improvement guide:



Does Email Kill Your Personal Productivity?

A manager at one of my clients came up to me at the end of a meeting. I had been talking about some of the factors that was stopping us from delivering on time and one of them was not making decisions in a timely fashion.

Many of the people in the meeting put up some of their arguments about why they had so little time and email came up repeatedly.

So, I asked them a qualifying question:

"How quickly do you need to respond to your emails?"

They largely looked at each other, rather than responding. I continued by asking them whether they were processing their emails in a systematic fashion, or being distracted by their email program (with their 'helpful' pop ups telling you that you have new messages).

I got a mixed response to my question and observation, but a couple of them got the point I was making: email is a tool and you get to choose how to use it.

In Lean manufacturing there is the reference to 'just in case' manufacturing; product being made just in case you need it (as opposed to just in time synchronised production). Emails, for many people, have become just in case. The following questions run through people's heads:

  • What if you miss something?
  • What if there is something vital just happened?
  • What if my manager needs me to do something?

Unless you job specifically states that you must look at your emails constantly it is a reasonable assessment that if one of the above situations happens someone will come and get you.

For the rest of the time emails will wait until you get a chance to look at them and here lies a really simple strategy to help you conquer slavery to emails:

Figure out how quickly you need to respond to an email and that becomes your 'review interval'.

The review interval is how often you need to open your email program to review new messages.

So, if you said that a two hour response time is a good period of time you would open your email program every two hours to look at the new messages and act accordingly.

Streamline your business admin
I hope you see how this works.

For some people they need to look once an hour, for some twice a day is good enough. And let's be honest, most of us look too often on our smartphones in-between!

Like most improvements I recommend you try this out as an experiment. Figure out your review interval and give it a gentle test one day: review your emails, act accordingly and then close down the program until the interval has passed and repeat. Start with a short interval and stretch it out until you find an optimal gap.

If for some reason this doesn't work, you can always go back to what you were doing beforehand. Use this as an experiment.

My manager friend found that he got a lot more 'real' work done and that he became a lot more effective with his time. It could happen to you too!

If you want some additional strategies for managing your emails (especially processing them like a machine!) and streamlining your office administration tasks then check out my book Office Productivity, it is available on Kindle, iBooks and in paperback.


All the best,

Giles


About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

Subscribe to my email updates and receive my on time delivery and productivity improvement guide:



Avoid mistakes with your SOPs!