on-demand work

Business team testing virtual reality headset in meeting
Ron Crabtree The concept of 5S, which is a methodology to reduce waste through a rigorous approach to workplace organization and cleanliness has five steps that loosely translate as Sort, Setup, Scrub, and Shine, Standardize and, finally, Sustain. Until recently, it never really occurred to me that the concept of 5S could be extended creatively to improving processes that have absolutely nothing to do with physical organization. Joann Parrinder is a co-author of our book Driving Operational Excellence and has written a very interesting chapter in it titled “Lean Thinking Applied to Your Idea Development [Life]cycle.” Joann, glad you could join me. Joann Parrinder Thanks, Ron. I’m glad to be here. Let me give you a bit of my background. I have about 15 years of program and project experience and I’m PMP certified in project management. I like to build things, so my projects have primarily been in the…
Read More
Team Of Engineers Having Discussion In Factory
Ron Crabtree We’re going to touch on something near and dear to our hearts in any kind of a business setting. Specifically, identifying an illuminating the sources of business waste. It is my pleasure here to introduce to you in a moment another of the authors of the book, Driving Operational Excellence, Mr. Gary Wickett. In Chapter 14, Gary takes a refreshing look at practical ways to think about waste and a very pragmatic and simple approach to smoking out the true root causes of systemic and process wastes. I like Gary’s chapter so well I included it as reading for the Michigan government process re-engineering program I recently developed and delivered. One of the things I particularly liked about Gary’s chapter is he makes it specific to the service providing industry. He uses a fantastic case study in applying these techniques, so no matter what it is you do,…
Read More
Tokyo, Japan at junction
Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) have operated pretty much independently of one another as each of the disciplines has evolved over the last 20 years.  What I have found interesting in my work with large and small organizations in the implementation of LSS in operations, and in sales and marketing, is an interesting common thread.  In almost every case as organizations progress down the path of implementing LSS – we end up working on supply chain projects. Why?  It’s really not difficult to understand once we realize that initial efforts in LSS usually focus on internal operations and naturally migrate to look up and down the supply chain.  This most often first occurs when the organization begins to look to increase the component of the Voice of the Customer (VOC) in their activities.  Both Lean and Six Sigma advocate strongly the importance of knowing the customer…
Read More
School Buses on a highway
We recently completed an organizational opportunity assessment for a K-12 public school system in my home state of Michigan.  Implementing Operational Excellence (OpEx) and Lean Six Sigma (LSS) in public school systems is not a totally new idea, but as a practical matter, my research shows less than 1% of school districts nationwide are seriously looking at OpEx as a means to improve. About eight months ago I met a group of school superintendents in Southeast Michigan to offer some ideas on how they could embrace best practices in OpEx and LSS to help them cope with declining funding, enrollments and in some cases, declining outcomes in education for our precious children. I won’t say that the idea that they are probably wasting 30% to 50% of every dollar they are spending to run their school districts was met with much enthusiasm.  In fact, they were not a little defensive.…
Read More
Man using mouse payments online shopping and icon customer network
Bringing new products and services to market quickly, that meet and ideally exceed customer expectations for value utility, needs to be at the forefront of businesses strategic and tactical activities going forward.  In the aerospace and defense arena the need for improvement is being driven by both the government and military as well as by foreign competition (Airbus comes to mind), who are attempting and often succeeding in winning larger market share every year. Although technology can and should be a major area of focus to find ways to collapse product and service delivery times and improve results, I recommend that “good ‘ole Lean” approaches must be carefully integrated in a strategic and tactical manner as well.  In fact, I would argue that if you are not already heavily engaged in leveraging Lean approaches in your product/service design processes, it is reasonable to expect that 80% of the improvements you…
Read More
Marketing Conversion Funnel
Over the last year I have been heavily involved in helping to apply Lean ideas in different service sectors including health benefits administration, medical labs, and most recently, in the marketing and sales arena.  Although there are elements of Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints and other operations excellence methodologies involved in each case, I continue to find that Lean ideas get the most traction quickly in getting meaningful change underway. Time and again the common theme from businesses in the service sector is: “how can we apply Lean ideas in our situation?”  In the new APICS Communities of practice, I have introduced how 5S can make a powerful difference in service businesses.  We will not discuss it here, but it should be noted that 99% of the time 5S is a great place to start if it is not already ingrained in the culture.  In all service industries, there…
Read More
Lean Thinking, Six Sigma, Principles Of Lean
The ability to reduce lead times is a key differentiator in competitive markets, service industries and the nonprofit arena.  All Lean tools attack waste; and time, specifically lead time, is a key area where waste tends to creep in.  Three Lean tools in particular can help: Value Stream Mapping (VSM), cellular/flow designs, and setup and changeover methods. Map It When we start thinking about reducing lead times, the first step is to build a VSM of the current state processes, recording what is really happening, not what is supposed to be happening.  For example, at a printing company I worked with, the amount of time it took to process a new quote was excessive.  There was a great deal of confusion, finger pointing and guesswork regarding the cycle and what should be done about it.  So, my colleagues and I hoisted a video camera on one shoulder to find out…
Read More
Total Quality Management, TQM
Six Sigma is a scientific term that some smart guys figured out how to coin into a new important buzzword in the business lexicon. The foundations for Six Sigma can be traced back to the early 20th century and the first efforts to focus on quality as a key competitive factor. It was not until the formation of the Japan Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) by Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the end of World War II that the modern concepts of Total Quality Management took shape in a cohesive way. The scientific term Six Sigma is derived from the values found in a normally distributed bell-shaped curve of a population of data. Without giving a lesson in statistics here, let’s use a simple analogy to understand what this means. Understanding the Concept of Six Sigma In the graphic on this page, we can see what this normally shaped curve…
Read More
continuous improvement concept on the gears, 3D rendering
APICS has been heavily involved with understanding and applying the theory of constraints (TOC) for a number of years now. Adopting and applying Lean principles has happened more recently—leading many people to wonder if TOC and Lean can and should work together. The core tenants and rules associated with TOC can be found in Eli Goldratt’s best-selling book, The Goal, and a series of follow-up works. Of all the things Goldratt taught us, my favorite is the fundamental question: “Why are we in business? What is the goal?” I agree with Goldratt: It is to “make money now and in the future.” The basic steps are: Identify the constraint. Exploit the constraint. Subordinate all other operations to exploit the constraint. If after numbers 2 and 3 more capacity is still needed to meet market demand, elevate the constraint. Go back to number 1: Don’t let inertia become the new constraint.…
Read More

Lean in the ERP World

Posted By: 
chess board game concept of business ideas and competition
Lean and ERP together is an oxymoron in the minds of many people – and this is no surprise when you examine where these two camps are coming from.  Take the viewpoint of the ERP gurus who say, “just give me an accurate bill of material, routings, forecast, inventory and open order status – and I’ll give you the ultimate plan.  We can achieve control through the efforts of a handful of skilled users and then let production just worry about making what is needed when it’s needed.” On the other hand, the Lean gurus take the position that “if we simply level-off our processes and demand, we can execute with low levels of waste, with simple, visual tools.  Achieving control and success comes by involving everyone in the execution process – including the planning and replenishment of materials throughout the value stream.” Well, in my opinion, they are both…
Read More
Menu