Standardize Work Process To Provide Customers Better Products & Services

Posted by on Oct 20, 2019 in Continuous Improvement, Kaizen, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Standard Work | 0 comments

Much of the work we do consists of repetitive tasks:  changing a die in a stamping press, closing the books every month or running a weekly or monthly meeting.  These repetitive tasks can be studied and improved to make them more efficient, reliable, easier, safer, and more productive.  We  then document the best method and teach it to everyone associated with the task.  This will make training new employees easier and improve our ability to solve problems and improve the process even more.

Standardized work is the effective combination of people, materials, procedures, and equipment to create a product or service in minimum time using minimum resources.  Standardized work is the key to sustaining your project gains, whether they be from lean, Six Sigma, or a kaizen event.

Benefits of standardized work are many and include:
  • Creating repeatable processes that are consistently executed
  • Making it easier for people to do their jobs
  • Avoiding the known pitfalls in a job
  • Identifing the most efficient method for a process
  • Providing effective training and cross-training for employees
  • Improving process quality
  • Lowing cost of rework
  • Identifing waste in a process
  • Providing best practice process documentation
  • Helping workers meet customer demand
  • Making it easier to track down the cause of a problem and solve it
  • Eliminating unnecessary variation caused by too many methods being used to accomplish the same task

Characteristics of Good Standard Work

For standard work to be effective it must meet four criteria.  It must be clear and specific describing precisely what steps are to be taken, when to take them, how to do them, why to do them, what to monitor, and how to respond if a problem is found.  Standard work must be designed for the inexperienced employee.  It must be understandable by new and not fully trained employees or when someone fills in for the regular employee when they are on vacation or home sick.  It must be realistic, easily followed, understandable, workable, and not include anything that is unnecessary or contradictory.  Lastly, standard work must be agreed-upon.  The standard must come from a consensus of those who use it by studying the ways something can be done and using data to determine which method works best.

Four Step Process For Developing Standard Work

Here is a simple four-step process for developing standard work and some important considerations at each step:

Step 1:  Establish a Best-Known Method

  • Always try to use data to support which method is best
  • Make the method as fool-proof as possible
  • Involve everyone who will be using the new method
  • Build consensus around the new method

Step 2:  Document the Best-Known Method

  • Use flowcharts, pictures, and standardized process charts
  • Show how to perform the new method, what problems to monitor, how to react to problems when they occur
  • Use manuals, checklists, and graphic instructions
  • Use visual instructions and displays at the exact spot where the new method will be used

Step 3:  Prepare for Standard Work Use

  • Train employees in the new method
  • Train the trainers
  • Prepare materials for current and future employees
  • Plan the details for launching the new method
  • Decide how progress and success to the standard work will be monitored

Step 4:  Use of the New Method

  • Stress the importance of using the new standard work
  • Monitor the standard work to learn if it is:
    • Being used consistently by all affected employees
    • Resulting in an improved process and results

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