Continuous improvement efforts outside of our organizations have extra variables that can slow down critical cost savings. In a more predictably unpredictable world, how then do we consistently generate supply performance results on time and within budget?

Current events like the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession, along with ongoing macro trends like working remotely, have brought to light a need for more flexible approaches to executing continuous improvement projects. Existing proven lean tactics will continue to enable success; however, our more virtual environment calls for new collaboration tools to empower teams to accomplish more in less time.

Implement Cloud Software

The tracking of our many and varying continuous improvement initiatives across our organization, as well as outside of it, requires a fresh review. This manual process, often involving Microsoft Excel spreadsheets being passed back and forth via email, slows our ability to achieve results. Further, high-touch exchanges are more prone to human error.

Implementing an Industry 4.0 perspective, digitizing select processes that improve speed and results applies here. Plus, by adding a software tool we can eliminate many emails and offline, manual processes and activites. In the case of continuous improvement projects, the right application of Agile Project Management software can quickly free up your time to do more.

Collaborate in Real Time

Develop an Agile Points System

Easier tasks are worth fewer points and typically assigned to more junior team members, while difficult tasks are worth more points and assigned to experienced team members. Task difficultly and assignment can vary, and task workloads can be better balanced using an Agile points system. More experienced team members can typically complete more points than less experienced team members over a given time. The difficultly and total task points a team member can complete in each time period also facilitates a more quantitative metric from which to provide ongoing coaching and advancement.

As with other applications of Agile, points are assigned by a manager at the start of a new period called a sprint, which usually lasts a set duration of two weeks. Assigning points to tasks is like a quality process in that you can quickly determine your current-state run rate after a few short sprints to establish your baseline. Once you have your baseline you can improve upon it. Internally you can foster a more engaged team that can accomplish more with better workload balancing. Externally you can better pace your suppliers’ progress, better ramp up new partners and lower the cost, time, and risk of continuous improvement project management.

Benchmark for the Future

Post project, a treasure trove of closed task notes, durations and leads can be mined for further waste reduction opportunities. Advancements in the analysis of this big data can be quickly pulled from projects via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) analyzed and distilled into practical insights via integrated machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) applications.

Conclusion

Supply Chain for Tomorrow’s Technology. Ann Arbor, MI.