With the new year just beginning, it can be a great time to look at what types of things you can do to help make 2014 the best year ever. Companies that have properly implemented lean strategies over the past year will have undoubtedly found many benefits, and improved the way their business is done. If there is one area where virtually every company can improve their lean implementation, however, it is with data collection.
Data collection is one of the most critical aspects of lean strategies. It is what helps to drive changes and improvements, because it is based on facts and not just the feelings or opinions of people in the facility. In addition, when you have the data necessary to back up a decision or request, it is much easier to get through the traditional red tape. With this in mind, look at some ways that your facility can improve the data collection and analysis processes this year.
Where is Data Collected?
This is one of the first questions that should be asked when looking to improve data collection for any facility. There should be many different points where information is collected, and identifying these areas is very important. When looking at data collection points, try to think about what makes the data from that source important, and how can it be improved. In addition, attempt to find other sources for data that will help paint a more complete picture of the situation in the facility.
By expanding and optimizing the data collection points, it is possible for a facility to analyze this information more holistically. By taking into account how all the different areas of a facility work together, it is possible to find great new ways to optimize the workflow.
What is the Data Telling You?
Once data is collected, many people are tempted to pick and choose what information they use, so that they can accomplish their own personal or department goals. This is a poor use of data, because it doesn’t rely just on the facts. Always try to understand what the data is indicating would be the best course of action, rather than trying to manipulate the data to match up with your desires.
This is often more difficult than most people think. It is far too easy for individuals or groups to read their own thoughts, opinions or desires into the data. With this in mind, consider bringing in an outside consultant or an impartial third party to help analyze the data with you. This can help your facility come to an objective conclusion, which will be much more beneficial in the long run.
While data will typically help drive logical changes that should help a facility, these changes won’t always work as well as hoped. This is why it is essential to continue to collect and analyze data after all changes are made. In the days and weeks after a change, it is often possible to identify whether the adjustment that was made is getting the desired results. If it isn’t, look into why it is not working, and see what can be done to fix the problem.
Even if it is working well, however, this is still a great opportunity to identify further improvement opportunities. When changes are made to streamline or improve processes, it often reveals additional opportunities for improvements. Looking at the data after a change is made is a great way to keep the improvements coming, and may result in efficiency benefits that nobody had previously believed would be possible.
It is clear that data drive decisions are the best kind, which is why facilities should strive to make 2014 the year of improved data. When done properly, it can allow for excellent results.