Process Improvement for the Practically Perfect

Process improvement. Who needs it. Bah humbug, right? Your company or your team or your department has already “done process improvement”, has already “modernized”, and has been around long enough to know what works and what doesn’t.

Wellll, maybe not so much.

Even a “well-oiled machine” benefits from a process review once in a while. In fact, we have found that the organizations that actively seek process improvement assistance are usually those that are doing well, not those that are in trouble. Click to Tweet.

A fresh set of eyes is always a good thing.

We have been working with a client who has been in the global production and export business since the 1820s. His organization has enjoyed great success every year and has continuously met and exceeded his customers’ expectations. Yet even he faces increasing challenges that require a focus on process.

Raw materials and inventory are not a problem, as there is a state of the art Just-in-Time process in place. Production schedules are tightly managed for the year starting in January. Employee engagement is high and work teams meet quotas on a regular basis. Delivery is only via one channel (air), and product is distributed globally within a 24-hour time period.

Operational headquarters are in the far north, accessible only by air, and with a workforce so highly skilled that additional employees are impossible to find. The client base grows exponentially each year, and has become increasing tech savvy.

Everyone is faced with doing more with less these days.

Our client had tightened budgets and reviewed processes as much as he could, and finally he realized he needed an expert opinion.

After doing a process review with his entire team, we found that there was room to improve the order process. With millions of orders arriving via snail mail each December (and with some now arriving as early as the day after Halloween), employees had been struggling to match each order with the inventory – it had just become too cumbersome, even for them.

We also found that the quality system was antiquated, and although our client refused to budge on the “Checking it twice” process step, he did agree that a third and fourth step (which you never hear about) was unnecessary.

The client has now added order channels – customers are able to submit orders via eMail, internet forms, kiosks at shopping malls, and even phone. This process enhancement has eliminated most of the manual order matching process steps. Then, by eliminating unnecessary quality checks, our client saved weeks of work.

None of these improvements were immediately obvious to people working in the system. Sometimes you just need that fresh set of eyes to help you see the possibilities.

If we could help this demanding, yet jolly, client. We can certainly help you too. Email us at info@whiteboardconsulting.ca/staging or tweet us @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.

And with that, we wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season!

Until next time,

Ruth

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