At Implementation Engineers, efficiently improving operations is at the core of our business. Our teams work with senior leaders to create a robust roadmap to systematically improve operations internally. When we first start working with a client, we conduct an on-site interview with company executives to understand what they think is critical. During the Program Define Phase (PDP) we take a look at their operations.
Some of the questions we address are:
- Are they are meeting requirements for quality?
- Are they constrained by supply capability?
- Do they deliver on time?
From an operations standpoint, we try to find gaps in quality, cost and delivery and design a program to close any gaps.
Once we define what the customer wants and understand their KPIs, we design the execution for an implementation plan and put in place milestones to keep them on track for delivering results. We use a gaps timeline to set expectations, execute the plan and put systems in place to sustain the plan. The number one problem we see time and time again is, once we close the gaps, sustaining the results for the long term.
Results Take Time
The the biggest challenge we see is the initiatives to address gaps are executed in the beginning, but are not maintained. Sustained change takes months, or even years. The leadership within a company has to follow up and set examples to make sure the change can sustain over time by reinforcing desired behaviors.
This takes effort. Top executives must be aware that sustaining the gain requires communication, motivation and training to implement and sustain for the long haul.
Sustaining the Gain
To reinforce change, leaders need to understand the human element and how people interact with the process. Expectations need to be defined in such a way to ensure results within a timely basis. In manufacturing, the biggest concept is to convince people who do the work they are responsible. It starts with the operator of a machine. To deliver quality, everybody must have an understanding of the measures and their response.
Operators need to take responsibility for checking their job and communicating the help they need to get back on track. They need to understand what’s important, how to measure results and be empowered to perform. It takes dedication from everyone in the organization. Leadership’s role is to keep teams motivated day-to-day.
For example, you can have the best restaurant with the most primo chef in town, but if the waitstaff doesn’t treat a customer well, it doesn’t matter. The customer will not come back.
It takes training and communication so employees understand the metrics to maintain sustainability. They need to be motivated to ask, “How can I make it better?”
To succeed, you can never, ever stop improving.