In an effort to deploy Lean across their organisations, many companies have invested heavily in large multi site programmes supported by dedicated internal Lean resources. The results from these programmes are quite often patchy and underwhelming. So why do these programs under perform?
Dedication of resources may seem like a good way to have “Subject Matter Experts” (SMEs) get through work quickly, but it gives rise to a costly productivity penalty. The antidote is to level the workload across the team (without compromising the important role of the SME!).
In operations where the short interval (e.g. daily or weekly) workload varies, the most common method of distributing the work is to share it equally between the available people. We call this method “available work through available people”. The consequence of this approach is that even low daily workloads expand to fill the day resulting in poor productivity. Carefully designed standard work can improve your department’s performance by consistently making the most out of people’s time.
Every Department (QC, QA, R&D, RA, Manufacturing, etc.) has its share of non-routine work that must be completed. This can include new instrument qualifications, method validations/transfers, SOP reviews, batch record updates, etc. It is easy for these tasks to get lost in the mix of all the other work. This is of course until there is a hard deadline or annual reviews are approaching! Then resources have to be dedicated to these non-routine projects to ensure that they are completed on time. While this is happening routine work is building up and once the project is cleared we have to set about dealing with the backlog.
A critical component of improving any existing process is first measuring it! “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” (Bohmer, 2008) There are multiple tools for determining a process’ baseline, such as process mapping and spaghetti diagrams. Possibly, some of the more controversial tools are those used for work measurement and standards. There are four recognized methods for gathering information on the time it takes to perform a task (or set of tasks).
Real Lean is the term used by BSM to describe a specific methodology, one which enacts the actual core principles of lean and delivers real value stream optimisation, both financially and operationally, for its clients.
A recent bestseller expounds the benefits of a simple tool that is being used to save lives in hospitals around the world. How can we apply the same tool to improve quality outcomes in other processes?
Recently in laboratories, there has been a notable shift towards dedicating resources to specific work streams and sub-streams, in the attempt to improve service levels. This is due in large part to a misapplication of the key Lean principle of developing ‘Value Streams’.