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The Pathway to Productivity – Measuring Improvement

by Joshua Ciampini
Senior Industrial Engineer, Logile, Inc.

In the first edition of the Pathway to Productivity we examined the value in understanding how your employees are spending their time. Identifying pockets of low utilization will enable management to better balance tasks across the workforce to keep everyone active.

Now let’s fast forward some… We’ve studied how employees are spending their time and made adjustments to work assignments. We’ve also implemented other workforce optimization programs, such as those discussed by Ben McCombs in his article “What Can 5S and Best Methods Do For You?”.

The next question we want to ask is:

How do we measure improvement?

We could redo our utilization study, but that wouldn’t necessarily paint the entire picture. We want to understand not only if our employees are better utilized but also if our new processes are more effective. To do this, we need to establish a baseline from which to measure improvement on.

One way to establish baselines is to set engineered standards. Engineered standards measure how long it should take an average trained working, working at expected pace, under normal working conditions to perform a task. This establishes baseline labor expectations. Set properly, standards can be an incredibly powerful tool; enabling such benefits as activity based staffing, performance management, cost to benefit analysis, price quoting, and others we will explore in later blogs.

Ok, so we’ve established a baseline. What next?

Now that we have engineered standards we can modify them as process improvements are implement to track improvement. Each time we update the standards we are establishing a new baseline to compare back to. But why wait until after a processes change to determine if we’ve made improvement? One of the most powerful uses for engineered standards is in simulation. A process change can be modeled before it is even implemented and compared against the existing state to quantify the benefit. Going a step further, applications such as Logile’s Standards Analyzer can be leverage to simulate changes across an organization with real time volume factors. This enables us to quantify the impact of one or many process changes before they are even implemented. Now as business operators we have a tool to help us make decisions!

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