Guide: Key Tips to Transform Your Operations
Key Tips to Transform Your Operations
Critical Success Factors to Make Your Processes Efficient & Effective
Manufacturing businesses often invest a great deal of time, effort and money into
endeavouring to transform their processes and operational performance.
Unfortunately, many of these transformation attempts often either fail, only deliver
mediocre results, and / or the improvements are not sustained.
When undertaking a transformation process, there are several critical factors which,
if not properly executed, can have a detrimental impact on the overall success of the
improvement journey. These factors are outlined below:
1. Prioritise, select & define the ‘right’ improvement initiatives
There needs to be a balanced view from both the ‘top down’ (e.g., “What are the
obstacles to meeting our strategic objectives?”) and the ‘bottom up’ (e.g., “What are
the main problems we face every day?”) when selecting improvement initiatives.
The customer, and adding customer value, should always be at the forefront of
Being able to clearly measure, setting baseline performance goals and knowing
the current process condition is key.
Each improvement initiative must be able to positively impact the end-to-end
process outcome – if not, it’s not a priority.
Clearly defining the problem, objective (improvement target condition),
manageable scope, team owners and time scales is key when doing any
Ring fencing rapid step improvements in succession is a good way to scope and
progress improvement initiatives.
2. Train your people & build capability
Businesses must establish the right mix of process improvement experts,
practitioners and active ‘doers’ within the workforce.
Everything starts with training, but this must be accompanied by mentoring
support to develop the best change agents within the business.
‘See One, Do One, Lead One’ is the best approach for building process
improvement capabilities, as relying on training alone will not result in capability.
You must have a clear schedule for training, developing and certifying your change
agents, and this needs to be practically aligned with undertaking improvement
activities at the same time. That is, you want people going to your training with your
improvement initiative or project in mind.
Once your change agents are trained, the best approach is to have proven
certification that shows they have met the required criteria; they’re proven to provide
the training, have delivered results and have mentored others in their projects.
3. Have a clear set of improvement tools & methods
Businesses must have a clearly defined ‘One Best Way’ approach that suits their
There are many improvement approaches which represent good practice, such as
Lean or Six Sigma, or other ring-fenced methods such as PDCA (Plan, Do, Check &
Act) and Kaizen (rapid improvement events). Every business should pick one (or a
hybrid) that suits them. The ‘One Best Way’ approach provides a methodology that
can be easily recognised and always followed.
Most businesses have trouble finding the right approach; therefore, part of the
support we provide is helping you choose the method that best fits your business.
After defining an approach, you should develop a clear set of tools and techniques
for improvement that are applicable for your business.
Don’t try to do everything at once. It’s far more effective to start small and scale up.
For example, use Pareto analysis to pick your first set of improvement tools (what are
the 20% of tools and techniques that will provide 80% of the benefit?).
4. Provide adequate change support & infrastructure
Appointing Senior Improvement Champions and Sponsors who can knock down
barriers is crucial for success.
Businesses must expect everyone to be part of the change. Ideally, change should
be embedded in everyone’s roles and responsibilities and should be a factor in
performance and appraisal reviews. These reviews should not just be there to
maintain the status quo.
Throughout the organisation, provide time for people to step back and review the
improvements and the progress towards change. Do not expect people to fit this
work in during the day-to-day firefighting and other daily priorities.
Support the improvement drive – don’t just demand it.
Change is never easy! Consider Kotter’s 8-Step Change Management Model, and
use your Improvement Champions and Sponsors to actively encourage every single
one of those steps. If any of the stages isn’t supported, then change will fail.
5. Sustain the gains
Preventing harmful habits is just as important as encouraging new ways of working.
Old habits are hard to break, so discipline must be in place before new habits can be
created. Make a conscious effort to ensure the correct guidance and support are in
place in order to establish improved ways of working.
Monitor the new performance levels and key metrics for the improvements that
have been implemented.
If performance drops, a root cause analysis must be quickly applied and corrective
action put in place.
Embed controls into processes that act as barriers to completing the process in a
less efficient way. For example, make it impossible to move past a particular stage in
the process before a previous stage has been completed, or provide pre-set
dropdown menu options rather than the ability to insert free text. Prevent people
from using any way other than the new way. Simply providing employees with an
operating manual has proven to be the least effective method for sustaining change.
Have the means and the method to monitor the overall improvement journey
momentum and, more importantly, be prepared to act accordingly if it’s slipping.
Use the business’ Champions and Sponsors to continually reinvigorate the
programme; this will help you to perpetually define, measure, analyse and improve
each of the improvement initiatives (of which there may be hundreds) and the overall
continuous improvement journey.
Bee Lighting is a land, sea and air lighting technology company. They work responsively with some of the world’s best vehicle manufacturers. The company was advancing from design services by establishing a state of the art production facility. A key requirement was to create an efficient...