Many companies start Continuous Improvement initiatives with 5S, workplace organization. This reduces clutter in offices, warehouses and manufacturing floors and creates quick, visible improvements to jump start employee engagement in the process.
Another way to jump start the effort is through simplification. For example, companies can reduce the number of suppliers, the number of SKUs (stock keeping units, or part numbers) and even the number of approvals required to do just about anything in the organization.
When I first started in my prior position as VP, Operations at a rapidly growing manufacturer, I had to approve all purchase orders for manufacturing materials over a certain dollar amount. One day as I sat there signing a pile of POs, I asked myself, am I not going to sign any of these? Will I shut down production because I won’t sign a PO? Is there a better way to control the flow of materials than inserting myself as a roadblock?
From that point forward, I never signed another PO for production materials. The rule was, if the PO is within the plan, issue it. Make sure there are processes, reports and measures in place to be sure we aren’t building inventory or buying parts we don’t need, but otherwise, let it flow.
Even reducing authorizations helps increase flow, and cut costs and lost time. To start continuous improvement, simplify in every facet of operations and supply chain. That way you can begin to accelerate profits and growth.
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