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Applying continuous improvement to your production management processes

Customers want value for their money. Companies want efficient and cost-effective productivity. Are these concepts always mutually exclusive? Sometimes they can act against each other but it is possible to find a win/win solution.

Production management sits at the intersection of business, design and technology. It involves production activities  – their planning, organization, direction and control. Simply put, it converts raw materials into finished goods or products. It’s main goal is to produce goods of the right quality, right quantity, at the right time for a reasonable price. It also aims to improve efficiency to better compete in the marketplace. Designing and planning this ideal system, while also managing it, presents a wide variety of challenges to even the most savvy of operations managers.

How do you identify the best option to improve outcomes, efficiency, and innovation? This presents various challenges. Pressures can come from a variety of avenues: inventory forecasting and management, quality assurance, poor order fulfilment and unacceptable safety performance.

The solution: streamlined operations, from manufacturing to delivery.

Acting confidently under pressure

Machines fail. Quality can be inconsistent. Issues escalate. On the road to better operations, things happen. How your people react to operational challenges when they arise – and they will – determines whether your organization succeeds or fails. Do they take quick and effective action?  Does it impact production, quality or your reputation?

Your team needs the training, skills and empowerment to act. Customer feedback can be swift and their expectations can drive company responsiveness and innovation. Maintaining stakeholder confidence is now more important than ever. Consistent problem-solving and decision-making strengthens your competitive position within your market.

Equipping your team to analyse issues, understand the root cause and empowering them to create solutions is where the real value lies. And that means every time, with every situation.

Improving performance through proven methods

A continuous improvement culture allows individuals and groups to identify inefficiencies or bottlenecks. A designed set of activities brings gradual, ongoing upgrades to products or processes. Constant review, measurement, and action often encourages innovation and new products.

The circular system of Plan-Do-Check-Act, (called the Deming Cycle, after William Deming) streamlines processes and minimizes time, effort, and waste. This is the win/win/win sweet spot organizations are searching for. Your customers believe your product is worthwhile and spread the word. You meet your productivity targets. Your people also feel valued and prepared to make essential enhancements to business processes. All these drive your bottom line.

At Kepner Tregoe, we support organizations to improve operational efficiency and performance. Our unique blend of training and consulting solutions allow our clients to learn how to put in place a consistent approach to problem-solving and better troubleshooting skills.

A way of life

It takes a village; greater than any one leader or champion, input from the entire organization is welcomed and considered. Those that excel at continuous improvement bake it into their values and reflect it in their hiring and training. They also incorporate it ​into their employee evaluation and compensation system. If an organization excels at this, the signs are visible in every aspect of their culture. Continuous improvement is a way of life, not a passing fad or short-term fix.

It strengthens the quality of your product and increases efficiency, productivity and profits. Consistent processes help you focus on the activities with the greatest potential for impact by capturing, classifying and prioritizing problems and opportunities. By dealing with the most important items first, more resources will be available to address high-priority issues in the future.

Beginning (and sustaining!) this journey can often mean fighting naysayers, inertia and reluctance to change work routines, even the bad ones. Yet, the perfect marriage of a continuous improvement culture and effective production management creates consistent, world-class performance. We can help.

For the past 60 years, Kepner-Tregoe has been empowering teams through a proven, data-driven method. Improved problem-solving and root cause analysis capabilities in your organization creates better, more predictable results.

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