The 3 Foundational Elements of Your Operational Excellence Initiative

November 11, 2021

Achieving operational excellence is essential for today's manufacturing companies for continued improvement and growth. In a recent survey of company executives, 30% responded that the threat of competition was a major force behind adopting the methodology. Other drivers mentioned were more sophisticated customer demands, the need to reduce costs, and the challenges of keeping up with changing technologies.

The journey to operational excellence requires awareness of its framework comprised of people, process, and technology. Looking at each of these three elements can assist you in uncovering weaknesses that require resolution. Investigating performance gaps and assessing where the company should be is the starting point for this journey.

Questions to consider as you are examining your business's current state may consist of the following:

  • What is the opinion of the teams and customers on how we currently operate?
  • How heavily do we depend on a few key individuals to operate effectively, and what measures are in place if they are unavailable?
  • How effective are our current processes when responding to external pressures? How can they be improved?
  • How are process changes reviewed, implemented, and communicated to the rest of the organization?

Balancing People, Process, and Technology

Identifying the current state of your business and where improvement is needed, is the first step to balancing the foundational elements. Each element of the People, Process, Technology Framework is carefully analyzed and adjusted accordingly to solve issues.

manufacturing leaders in factory | people process technology framework

People

People are the first resource to examine closely since they are the most important factor in achieving operational excellence. Employees in the organization see the flow of value to the customer in order to recognize problems and provide feedback for improvements. These improvements ultimately benefit employees as they make their jobs easier. Customers benefit from the improvements in the form of higher-quality products. The company as a whole realizes greater efficiency and profitability. 

Employees who are engaged in processes have increased individual, team, and overall operational performance. A Gallup survey shows that increased employee engagement reduced safety-related incidents, quality defects, and absenteeism. 

If there are conflicts in personnel resources, there are three possible courses of action to take to resolve the imbalance. One option is to wait for a preferred team member to finish a current project before reassigning them. Another is redirecting or reassigning currently available staff.  Recruiting new staff members entirely is a third option. In any case, it's crucial to select people with the right combination of experience and skills to solve the problem. Be sure you have senior management buy-in before making any major changes.

Process

After effectively balancing personnel resources, the next course of action is to address any inefficient processes that are contributing to the problem. Since processes connect both people and technology, improving and developing them can resolve many issues.

Many businesses demonstrated their adaptability to modify and implement processes when they had to quickly shift to remote work at the start of the global pandemic. Companies who were unable to adapt during the disruption were forced to temporarily shut down.

Begin by identifying major steps of current processes and then narrowing them down to a more specific level by variations, exceptions, interdependencies, and supporting processes.  Stakeholders must be a part of this step so that they are aware of what is expected from them. They can also provide feedback on gaps and other issues.

Many leaders are also implementing formal manufacturing programs and training to facilitate process improvements. Metrics are used to continually measure progress towards predefined goals of the process.

Technology

Once people and processes have been balanced, the technology to support both resources can be addressed. Integrated technology such as Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) software is used by many companies to support and manage operations. Technology enables the delivery and review of real-time KPIs for continuous process monitoring.  The right technology should be flexible, provide a good user experience, and be intuitive and easy to use.

Key Takeaways

The methodologies required on the operational excellence journey are not achievable overnight. But by carefully assessing the people, process, and technology elements of this framework, an actionable plan can be formulated that will optimize your company's operations. This can not only save substantial costs, but give your company a competitive edge in the industry. MetaExperts™ is global network of Operational Excellence (OpEx) deployment experts and resources for flexible, on-demand short-term contract or contract-to-hire needs. MetaExperts™ align with your industry and OpEx initiatives and are thoroughly vetted through our unique 300+ Screening and Evaluation Process and aligned to your organization using a 47+ alignment process to ensure you get the right talent to solve your specific situation. To learn more, visit https://MetaExperts.com

Ron Crabtree

Ron Crabtree, President of MetaOps, Inc., is an organizational transformation coach/trainer, operational excellence (OpEx) adjunct facilitator at Villanova University, Lean and Six Sigma (LSS) speaker, author and thought leader in business process improvement/re-engineering (BPI/BPR). He is a consultant to private industry and government agencies in supply chain management, design of experiments (DOE), statistical process control (SPC), advanced quality systems (AQS), program evaluation review technique (PERT), enterprise resource planning (ERP), demand flow, theory of constraints, organizational change management, and value stream/process mapping and management. Ron has a BA in Management and Organizational Development, is a Master LSS Black Belt, and is Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), Integrated Resource Management (CIRM), and Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) by American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS). If you are an executive and would like to chat with Ron about anything related to business process improvement and operational excellence, please get on his calendar here: http://bit.ly/ExecutiveChat

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