Some thought provoking insights from our Industrial Engineering Graduate, Kyle Moodley; who is currently participating in our Knowledge Exchange Programme …
Processes are what helps any organisation function on a daily basis. They could be documented (formal processes) or tasks which are done repetitively over a long period of time which is sometimes referred to as “best practice” (informal processes). As time goes by people get so accustomed to a set process and its inherent flaws and are often not willing to change simply because changing the way things are done seems like too big of a task to accomplish. Not to mention that change is disruptive.
What follows is dependent on how many bottleneck activities are within the process from beginning to end. A bottleneck activity is one that halts the production/business process where incoming work arrives at a rapid pace and is unable to be processed timeously.
After mapping out the process and determining limiting factors along the way, it would be beneficial to the organisation to re-construct their process in order to maximize their productivity and increase their efficiency. The method to achieving this is called business process re-engineering. This approach sees a complete restructure of operations and the processes involved which requires time, money and effort, also not forgetting highly skilled individual/s who have expert knowledge and experience in this field.
“There are no big problems – there are just a lot of little problems.”-Henry Ford
After analysing your processes and if it is found that there are minimal faults, then the Kaizen approach can be used. The English translation of which refers to “continuous improvement”, it means just that!! This technique suggests that minor improvements over time will eventually improve productivity and make the working environment more efficient. This approach welcomes all staff in the organisation to do their part in contributing to the improvements.
Some key tools that aid when conducting a root cause analysis are as follows:
- Cause and effect diagram;
- Five why’s;
Ultimately it can be seen that all businesses will encounter problems along the way but whether or not they choose to fix or avoid it is up to management within the organisation. As we have been taught since childhood to always take baby steps and eventually you will reach your destination. The Kaizen approach shares the same philosophy but in this case our goal is streamlined business processes which maximises productivity and increases efficiency.