What is Transactional Quality?????

Transactional Quality

 What are Transactions?

Interactions with end-users are called Transactions. Examples of calls, faxes -mails, web-based session’s etc. Monitoring of all types of end-user transactions is done to ensure that call-centre, client and end-user requirements and targets are met.

Why Transaction Monitoring? 

  • Lesser mistakes and satisfied customers.
  • Helps trainers identify training needs of CSRs.
  • Ensures the deliverability of the set targets, standards &parameters defined in S.L.A. (Service Level Agreement) with the client.
  • Positive impact on profitability & growth of business.
  • Positive impact on Personal growth, skill set improvement, confidence &motivational level of a CSR.

And Also for ….…

Process Control 

To maintain our own standard of quality of work.

Process Analysis

Calculate FA and NFA Scores Studying trends over a period of time and incorporate that accordingly.

Continual Improvement 

To be able to identify problem areas and take preventive actions.

How is it done?

 There are six basic levels of quality monitoring:

  • Walk-around observation
  • Side-by-side monitoring
  • Plug-in/double jack monitoring
  • Silent monitoring
  • Record and review
  • Voice and screen/multi-media monitoring

Monitoring Methods for Telephone Transactions

Remote Monitoring:

Auditing recorded calls.

Live Barge-in:

Auditing real time calls.

Screen Capture:

Auditing voice and screen component of recorded/ live calls.

Side by Side Monitoring:

Auditing a call sitting next to a CSR.

Terminologies in TM

CTQ:

Critical To Quality Characteristics. Customer performance requirements of a product or service.

Defect:

Any event that does not meet the specifications of a CTQ.

Defect Opportunity:

Any event that can be measured that provides a chance of not meeting a customer requirement. These are the number of parameters (on account of Non-Fatal Errors) which are monitored in any one call. In case of multiple calls, these are a product of number of calls by the number of parameters. (Note- This will exclude the compliance parameters or the Fatal Error parameters)


Fatal Error:

Any Defect in the transaction that has legal or financial implications or gross errors on customer handling such as rude or abusive language is termed as fatal error. Any fatal errors would result in the whole transaction being declared VOID.

There are 6 such categories:

  • Wrong Resolution
  • Misleading Information
  • Financial loss to the client (wrong address details)
  • Foul language
  • Case Note defects like incomplete details mentioned in the case notes, wrong customer profile.

Non-Fatal Error:

Any parameter, the occurrence of which is not desirable yet may not result in a VOID transaction. Defects which may lead to customer dissatisfaction are also included in this category.

Threshold Scores:

Any score above which a transaction is deemed pass and below which it is considered failed.

Defective Transaction:

Any transaction which is monitored, and is deemed VOID on account of any FATAL ERROR occurrence. Note – Any transaction, which may not have any fatal errors, yet may have multiple Non-Fatal errors, resulting in a Transaction score below 75% will also be considered as a defective transaction.

Sampling Methodology:

Calls are picked at random from the recording device based on Random Table to make the sample relevant, representative and remove bias. Some minimum length calls are always included in the sample to ensure review of all aspects.

How is it measured?

Metrics 

Following accuracy metrics are measured During TM:

  • Fatal Accuracy: COPC Threshold >98%
  • Non-Fatal Accuracy: COPC Threshold >98%
  • TM Score: SLA Threshold

 TM Calculations

  • FA – Number of pass calls / Total Calls
  • NFA – 100% – (Non-fatal defects/ Total Opp.)
  • Total Opp. – Total Calls x Number of parameters
  • TM Score – Absolute scores/ Total calls

Audit Sheets

An Audit sheet is used to mark the observations of Transaction Monitoring during a call audit session by a Monitor. It is the tool which has the following mentioned:

  • Parameters (Fatal and Non-fatal) based on Call Flow
  • Brief description
  • Weightages
  • Score methodology
  • Space for comments

Different audit sheets are generally used during monitoring of different type of transactions. Example: In call Audit sheet, Side-by-Side Audit sheet, Escalation audit sheet, Email Audit Sheet.

 

Where Did Six Sigma Come From?

As with Lean, we can trace the roots of Six Sigma to the nineteenth-century craftsman, whose challenges as an individual a long time ago mirror the challenges of organizations today. The craftsman had to minimize wasted time, actions, and materials; he also had to make every product or service to a high standard of quality the first time, each time, every time.

Quality Beginning

The roots of what would later become Six Sigma were planted in 1908, when W. S. Gosset developed statistical tests to help analyze quality data obtained at Guinness Brewery. About the same time, A. K. Erlang studied telephone traffic problems for the Copenhagen Telephone Company in an effort to increase the reliability of service in an industry known for its inherent randomness. It’s likely that Erlang was the first mathematician to apply probability theory in an industrial setting, an effort that led to modern queuing and reliability theory. With these underpinnings, Walter Shewhart worked with Western Electric (a forerunner of AT& T) in the 1930s to develop the theoretical concepts of quality control. Lean-like industrial engineering techniques did not solve quality and variation-related problems; more statistical intelligence was needed to get to their root causes. Shewhart is also known as the originator of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, which is sometimes ascribed to Dr. Edwards Deming, Shewhart’s understudy. As the story goes, Deming made the connection between quality and cost. If you find a way to prevent defects, and do everything right the first time, you won’t have any need to perform rework. Therefore, as quality goes up, the cost of doing business goes down. Deming’s words were echoed in the late 1970s by a guy named Philip Crosby, who popularized the notion that “quality is free.”

Quality Crazy

War and devastation bring us to Japan, where Deming did most of his initial quality proselytizing with another American, Dr. Joseph Juran. Both helped Japan rebuild its economy after World War II, consulting with numerous Japanese companies in the development of statistical quality control techniques, which later spread into the system known as Total Quality Control (TQC).

As the global economy grew, organizations grew in size and complexity. Many administrative, management, and enabling functions grew around the core function of a company to make this or that product. The thinking of efficiency and quality, therefore, began to spread from the manufacturing function to virtually all functions— procurement, billing, customer service, shipping, and so on. Quality is not just one person’s or one department’s job. Rather, quality is everyone’s job! This is when quality circles and suggestion programs abounded in Japanese companies: no mind should be wasted, and everyone’s ideas are necessary. Furthermore, everyone should continuously engage in finding better ways to create value and improve performance. By necessity, quality became everyone’s job, not just the job of a few … especially in Japan, at a time when there was precious little money to invest in new equipment and technology.

The rest of the story might be familiar if you’re old enough to remember. By the late 1970s, America had lost its quality edge in cars, TVs, and other electronics— and they were suffering significant market share losses. Japanese plants were far more productive and superior to American plants, according to a 1980 NBC television program, If Japan Can Why Can’t We? In response to all this, American companies took up the quality cause. They made Deming and Juran heroes, and institutionalized the Japanese-flavored TQC into its American counterpart, Total Quality Management (TQM). They developed a special government award, the Baldrige Award, to give companies that best embodied the ideal practice of TQM. They organized all the many elements and tools of quality improvement into a teachable, learnable, and doable system— and a booming field of quality professionals was born.

Quality Business

The co-founder of Six Sigma, Dr. Mikel Harry, has often said that Six Sigma shifts the focus from the business of quality to the quality of business. What he means is that for many years the practices of quality improvement floated loosely around a company, driven by the quality department. And as much as the experts said that quality improvement has to be driven and supported by top executives, it generally wasn’t. Enter Jack Welch, the iconic CEO who led General Electric through 2 decades of incredible growth and consistent returns for shareholders. In the late 1980s, Welch had a discussion with former AlliedSignal CEO Larry Bossidy, who said that Six Sigma could transform not only a process or product, but a company. In other words, GE could use Six Sigma as AlliedSignal was already doing: to improve the financial health and viability of the corporation through real and lasting operational improvements. Welch took note and hired Mikel Harry to train hundreds of his managers and specialists to become Six Sigma Black Belts, Master Black Belts, and Champions. Welch installed a deployment infrastructure so he could fan the Six Sigma methodology out as widely as possible across GE’s many departments and functions. In short, Welch elevated the idea and practice of quality from the engineering hallways of the corporation into the boardroom. Lest we not be clear, the first practical application of Six Sigma on a pervasive basis occurred at Motorola, where Dr. Harry and the co-inventor of Six Sigma, Bill Smith, worked as engineers. Bob Galvin, then CEO of Motorola, paved the way for Bossidy and Welch in that he proved how powerful Six Sigma was in solving difficult performance problems. He also used Six Sigma at Motorola to achieve unprecedented quality levels for key products. One such product was the Motorola Bandit pager, which failed so rarely that Motorola simply replaced rather than repaired them when they did fail.

Nine Principles of Process Improvement

Process improvement and Six Sigma embrace many principles, the most important of which in our opinion are discussed in this section. When understood, these principles may cause a transformation in how you view life in general and work in particular

The principles are as follows:

Principle 1— Life is a process (a process orientation).

Principle 2— All processes exhibit variation.

Principle 3— Two causes of variation exist in all processes.

Principle 4— Life in stable and unstable processes is different.

Principle 5— Continuous improvement is always economical, absent capital investment.

Principle 6— Many processes exhibit waste.

Principle 7— Effective communication requires operational definitions.

Principle 8— Expansion of knowledge requires theory.

Principle 9— Planning requires stability. Plans are built on assumptions.

 

 

 

The Machine that Changed the World

Who are you when you get your B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago, a Master’s from Harvard in transportation systems, and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT?

You guessed it: James Womack, the one who coined the term “Lean Manufacturing” with co-author Daniel Jones in their landmark book, The Machine That Changed the World (1990). While Womack’s education is in political science, his doctoral dissertation and subsequent work was focused on comparative industrial policy in the United States, Germany, and Japan. That’s how he developed his extensive knowledge and relationships for writing his 1990 book and his follow-up book, Lean Thinking, in 1996.

Womack’s Lean Principles are as follows:

1. Value— Act on what’s important to the customer of the process.

2. Value stream— Understand which steps in the process add value and which don’t.

3. Flow— Keep the work moving at all times and eliminate waste that creates delay.

4. Pull— Avoid making more or ordering more inputs for customer demand you don’t have.

5. Strive for perfection— There is no optimum level of performance; just continually pursue improvements.

While Ohno and Toyota built the house of Lean brick by brick, and while many other companies have adopted TPS principles and practices, Womack brought it all together into a thinkable and deployable system. Womack’s work has also gone a long way in migrating Lean practices into the heart and soul of the entire enterprise, not just the manufacturing functions. Consequently, similar to the path of quality and Six Sigma, the business world has fully awoken to the undeniable fact that Lean is for banks and hospitals and service companies as much as it is for manufacturers.

A bank used Lean to reduce loan-approval processing time from 21 days to 1 day. A hospital reduced the average emergency room patient wait time from 100 minutes to 10 minutes without adding any staff. Southwest Airlines applied Rapid Changeover to achieve best-in-class gate turnaround times. If you have a process (and who doesn’t?), the principles of Lean apply. And who can we thank or acknowledge for this? Even more than the big names like Ford, Ohno, and Womack, we can thank the thousands of companies that stamped Lean’s imprint into their organizations. They are the true testament to Lean’s universal applicability.

So if you understand the principles and aims of Lean, how do you enact them? Typically, you implement Lean changes in your organization through a series of activities called Kaizen Events.

Control Phase in Six Sigma……

Purpose

To complete project work and hand off improved process to process owner, with procedures for maintaining the gains

Deliverables

  • Documented plan to transition improved process back to process owner, participants and sponsor
  • Before and after data on process metrics
  • Operational, training, feedback, and control documents (updated process maps and instructions, control charts and plans, training documentation, visual process controls)
  • A system for monitoring the implemented solution (Process Control Plan), along with specific metrics to be used for regular process auditing
  • Completed project documentation, including lessons learned, and recommendations for further actions or opportunities

Key steps in Control

  1. Develop supporting methods and documentation to sustain full-scale implementation.
  2. Launch implementation.
  3. Lock in performance gains. Use mistake-proofing or other measures to prevent people from performing work in old ways.
  4. Monitor implementation. Use observation, interaction, and data collection and charting; make additional improvements as appropriate.
  5. Develop Process Control Plans and hand off control to process owner.
  6. Audit the results. Confirm measures of improvements and assign dollar figures where appropriate. Give audit plan to company’s auditing group.
  7. Finalize project:
    • Document ideas about where your company could apply the methods and lessons learned from this project
    • Hold the Control Gate Review
    • Communicate project methods and results to others in the organization
    • Celebrate project completion
  8. Validate performance and financial results several months after project completion.

Gate review checklist for Control

  1. Full-scale Implementation results
    • Data charts and other before/after documentation showing that the realized gains are in line with the project charter
    • Process Control Plan
  2. Documentation and measures prepared for sustainability
    • Essential documentation of the improved process, including key procedures and process maps
    • Procedures to be used to monitor process performance and continued effectiveness of the solution
    • Control charts, capability analysis, and other data displays showing current performance and verifying gains
    • Documentation of procedures (mistake-proofing, automated process controls) used to lock in gains
  3. Evidence of buy-in, sharing and celebrating
    • Testimonials or documentation showing that:
      • The appropriate people have evaluated and signed off on the changes
      • The process owner has taken over responsibility for managing continuing operations
      • The project work has been shared with the work area and company at large (using a project database, bulletin boards, etc.)
    • Summary of lessons learned throughout the project
    • List of issues/opportunities that were not addressed in this project (to be considered as candidates for future projects)
    • Identification of opportunities to use the methods from this project in other projects
    • Plans for celebrating the hard work and successful efforts

Tips for Control Phase

  • Set up a realistic transition plan that will occur over a series of meetings, training events, and progress checks scheduled between the team and the process participants (avoid blind hand-offs of implementation plans).
  • Schedule a validation check 6 to 12 months after the control gate review. Be sure the project sponsor and local controller/finance representative is present to validate that the results are in place and stable!
  • Never anticipate perfection! Something always goes wrong. Develop a rapid response plan to address unanticipated failures via FMEA (p. 270). Identify who will be part of the “rapid response team” when a problem arises. Get permission from sponsor to use personnel should the need arise.
  • Develop tools that are easy for process participants to reference and use. It’s hard to keep paying attention to how a process operates, so you need to make it as easy as possible for people to monitor the work automatically.
  • Work out the kinds before transferring responsibility for managing the new process. Handing off (to the sponsor or process owner) a process that is still being worked on will compromise success.

Improve Phase in Six Sigma

Purpose

To learn from pilots of the selected solution(s) and execute full-scale implementation.

Deliverables

  • For a quality-improvement project: Tested, robust solutions shown to affect the proven causes (Xs) that affect the critical output (Y)
  • For a Lean project: Documentation on results of the chosen Lean best practice or solution applied (5S, Pull system, Four step rapid set up, etc.)
  • An improved process that is stable, predictable and meets customer requirements

Key steps in Improve

  1. Develop potential solutions. Use the confirmed cause-and-effect relationship (from Analyze) to identify a wide range of potential solutions. This is one step where pushing for creativity is highly desired.
  2. Evaluate, select, and optimize best solutions. Flesh out the solution ideas, develop criteria and evaluate the alternatives, document the results. Be open to altering or combining options to optimize the final selections. If necessary, perform designed experiments to find optimal settings for combinations of factors.
  3. Develop “To Be” value stream map. Revise the existing VSM to reflect what the process will look like after changes are made. Include estimates of time savings, improved quality, and so on.
  4. Develop and implement pilot solution. Write up the tasks to be performed in the pilot solution. Train pilot participants. Document results of pilot along with ideas for improvements.
  5. Confirm attainment of project goals. Compare results to baseline.
  6. Develop and execute full-scale implementation plan.
  7. Prepare for Improve gate review.

Gate review checklist for Improve

  1. Solution development and selection
    • Documentation on alternative solutions considered
    • Data displays, statistical analysis, or documentation on other tools used to develop the solutions
    • List of weighted criteria used to evaluate solution; solution matrix or other display summarizing the evaluation results (should include benefit, effort, cost, ease and timing of implementation, resource requirements, etc.)
    • List of concerns raised by process participants and the process owner, and notes on how those concerns have been or will be addressed
  2. Pilot testing
    • Documentation (including “to be” value stream map) of the redesigned process with changes in process flow highlighted
    • Documentation on communication with process participants, customers, and owners (as appropriate)
    • Data display, statistical analyses or other documentation showing the results of pilot test or simulation
    • Documentation of what was learned from the pilot test and plans for improvement during full-scale implementation
    • Documentation confirming that the pilot solution can achieve project goals (include before/after charts, hypothesis tests, etc.)
  3. Full-scale implementation
    • Documentation of plans you used for full-scale implementation
    • Risk management plans (for avoiding, reducing, or mitigating risks)
    • Plans for addressing regulatory (e.g., OSHA), legal, fiscal, or other business requirements
    • Documentation of results from full-scale implementation (especially data showing stable performance)
  4. Updated charter and project plans
    • Updated project charter, financial benefits, and schedule.

 

Five Day Plan For Kaizen:

This article looks at some common tools and techniques for planning a successful Kaizen event, and identifies some pitfalls to avoid.

The 5 Days Journey…….

  • Day 1 – Current State Documentation
  • Day 2 – Current State Evaluation
  • Day 3 – Characterize Future State; Plan Implementation
  • Day 4 – Implement Future State
  • Day 5 – Operationalize Future State and Debrief

The intent of any Kaizen is improvement, specifically process improvement, and more specifically in some combination of three primary metrics: throughput, inventory and product/process cost. The metrics are established to provide a guidepost for progress toward a goal – a gauge of success (or failure). Use of metrics is non-negotiable. This means that collecting data on the metrics does not start during the Kaizen event; there must be a history of the relevant metrics to 1) justify that the Kaizen effort is even worth the time and 2) establish a baseline against which a goal can be defined and progress evaluated. Start to research and collect historical data relative to the metrics of the planned Kaizen event at least one month before the scheduled event. How much historical data is needed depends on the frequency of measurable events and variation. Some metrics, such as space needed to produce a product or distance walked by operators, do not require much effort to gather.

Too often, organizations employ Kaizen as a team-based brainstorming effort without the support of data. This is a mistake. Although Kaizen events are designed to be fast and intense, data analysis is still important to the process. In fact, the understanding and appropriate use of data are often the foundation of a successful Kaizen event.

Poorly executed Kaizen events can often be tied to poor (or absent) data analysis starting with insufficient understanding of KPI (key performance indicator) history. The problem gets worse when – because the team lacks time to gather the right data, they do not know what data to get or they do not know how to study the data even if they have it – root causes are identified and characterized by means of team voting or tribal knowledge. Solutions often fail because the team’s filtering of anecdotal information, which was assumed to be correct, failed to adequately select or describe the important sources of waste at a controllable level. Finally, data to track performance metrics after changes are implemented is commonly neglected, often because the team’s attention has turned to another fire. This failure will manifest itself in a lack of follow-up on open issues and a lack of understanding of the business impact resulting from the effort. Ultimately, these issues undermine the credibility of a Kaizen program.

Before the Kaizen

Kaizen events were never meant to be brainstorming events with solutions unsupported by data analysis. Unfortunately, many organizations choose this route because they have the misguided belief that data analysis is costly and contrary to the Kaizen speed culture. This approach becomes a rationalization for laziness since more time will ultimately be spent justifying or correcting solutions where appropriate data does not exist. Simply stated, without data, there is no opportunity for the team to discover anything new (i.e., innovate) as their brainstorming sessions will simply confirm what they think they already know. Do not neglect the value of the data; plan early (at least two weeks before the event) to get the necessary data, especially voice of the customer (VOC) data, and be prepared to quickly get more detailed data as questions arise during the event. As the data is gathered, it should be validated to ensure veracity.

In addition to a plan for the collection and validation of data, the Kaizen team leader will need to establish a charter with scope and objectives for the event at least two weeks prior to the event (note, this is in addition to the KPI information that should be gathered at least one month prior to the event). Tasks to be accomplished include identifying team members, notifying relevant departments about potential changes and estimating financial benefits.

The charter provides the framework necessary to create a daily agenda for deliverables in the Kaizen event. The charter and agenda should be developed in concert with (or at least approved by) the local management team, as it will dictate the planned resource requirements by day and the nature of the interruptions to the process so downtime can be sufficiently anticipated without impacting the customer. At the end of each day, it is best to meet with the Kaizen event’s champion or sponsor to review activities and conclusions, as well as barriers and resource needs for the next day. A brief description of each day in a typical five-day Kaizen event follows.

Day 1 – Current State Documentation

On Day 1, the charter should be communicated, participants should be trained and the process should be physically viewed. In addition, this is the time to create a first draft of the detailed value stream map (VSM). Through communication of the charter and a brief overview of the process, team members will be instructed on the objectives for the Kaizen event and their individual responsibilities in the Kaizen process. Site leadership should participate in the kickoff session to emphasize the importance of the event and grant authority to the team to make required changes. Training on the Kaizen approach and philosophy should be limited to one hour or less; the tools are intuitive by design and most of the learning experience will occur through live practice.

The bulk of Day 1 should be dedicated to observing the process, VOC synthesis, creating a VSM (or reviewing a recently-created VSM) and identifying the elements of waste. These efforts should be conducted with the knowledge of historical process performance as indicated by the data and any expected future conditions that will create additional challenges. Process performance should be illustrated with time series charts, histograms and pareto charts as necessary; finance personnel must participate in these efforts to provide perspective on the business impact of the historical performance relative to the objectives. The understanding gained on Day 1 will help to set priorities for the activities of the second day. End the day by starting a “newspaper” with photos of the process before any change. This newspaper summarizes all the completed actions and findings in a format that is easy to assemble and access.
Day 2 – Current State Evaluation

On Day 2, it is time to quantify the impact of the waste in terms of process metrics, take time studies, identify and prioritize bottlenecks, update the VSM, and begin root cause analysis on waste. For example, in a manufacturing process, elements of the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) metric should be decomposed to understand the losses in line capacity and identify important losses to be eliminated or reduced.

Data should be utilized as much as possible in the root cause characterization to support graphical analysis through pareto charts, histograms, multi-vari charts, box plots, scatter plots and control charts, to name a few. Graphical observations and conclusions should be verified statistically. Other team-based tools may include: brainstorming, affinity diagrams, fishbone diagrams, critical-to-quality trees, cause-and-effect matrices, process maps (the VSM works well for this), spaghetti charts and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA).*  The time studies should be used to create a takt time analysis, the identification and quantification of value-add versus non-value-add work, and the understanding of current standard work combinations.

* The FMEA is a powerful but potentially time-consuming tool; it should be used sparingly to understand the root causes of the most important forms of waste.

The work conducted on this day is a critical input for the work of the third day:  identifying solutions and prioritizing opportunities for improvement. At this point the team should identify additional resources necessary to complete the task list, report to management any potential roadblocks or barriers, and begin the process of transferring knowledge to support culture change and reasons to embrace the new ways.
Day 3 – Characterize Future State; Plan Implementation

The focus of Day 3 is to develop and prioritize solutions to eliminate critical waste, develop new flow scenarios with new standard work combinations, prioritize changes, plan the implementation, create contingency plans, and begin solution implementation. The rigor applied in Day 2 dictates how well the team’s time is utilized on this day.

A project plan will help define resources and timing of both immediate changes and longer term changes. A future state VSM or process map should be created to illustrate the impact of the changes visually. Improvements should always be biased toward low-tech, simple and self-manageable solutions. (Complicated or expensive solutions must be reviewed with management and finance to quantify the expected benefits.) Proposed changes should also be reviewed with departments such as health and safety, and unions so time is not later wasted with approvals and enrollment. If team membership has been selected correctly, union concerns should be minimized since members will have been involved in the process. The team should begin implementing changes on this day in order to alleviate some of the burden for the fourth day. Newspaper updates should be prepared again.
Day 4 – Implement Future State

This is a long “all hands on deck” day with intense focus on implementing the changes with minimal impact on the operation. 5S techniques (sort, straighten, shine, standardize, sustain) may be applied as equipment is rearranged, cleaned and repaired; visual aids are installed; tools/jigs are organized, refurbished and enhanced; air/power supply access points and lights are moved; standard work documentation is revised; operators are trained; and the new process is piloted. It is critical that data is collected (including time studies) during the pilot in order to understand the impact of the process changes and provide feedback for multiple iterations of minor changes to optimize the process. Results are tallied and quantified with financial impact calculated.

This can be an exhausting day; resources and equipment must be coordinated to ensure smooth execution of the changes and the pilot. Be prepared to sequence implementation of some changes over time with a project plan that tracks dates and accountabilities. All meetings on this day should take place on the production floor or process area. It is important that management is present at the end of Day 4 to show support for new processes and discuss ways to sustain the changes.
Day 5 – Operationalize Future State and Debrief

Launch the new process for regular processing of demand and prepare a report based on the results achieved on Day 5. Prepare final documentation and approvals (legal, customer, safety, etc.) as necessary. A final, formal report of the event should not be required if the management team has been engaged during the rest of the Kaizen event. At this point, there should be no need to justify changes to management as issues should have surfaced as they were identified during the event. Any final report should be a simple summary of the information already compiled in the Kaizen newspaper.

Conduct a post-mortem with the Kaizen team, capturing best practices and learnings to be applied to future Kaizen events. Data collection plans and response plans should be in place to monitor performance and systematically respond to problems over the next several weeks; these monitoring and response plans should be institutionalized as part of the management system with ownership assigned and performance management plans updated. Review the task list and Kaizen metrics for completion every week for four weeks – or until all items are completed. The task list should assign responsibility to specific employees and list deliverable dates for each task.

People, Processes and Tools

No two Kaizen events will be the same and the real skill in conducting these events is deciding which tools to use, how rigorously to apply them, which individuals to involve in their administration and what the desired outcomes are. The tools of Kaizen are simple; their application requires diligent planning and considerable creativity on the part of the team leader. Team leaders need to remain aware of the risks created by the short timeframe and physical demands of the events: hasty decisions based on groupthink are a threat to the effectiveness of the Kaizen method. The agendas described above represent a sample of tools that should be considered at a minimum. Indeed, the schedule described is intended to be a guide; the realities of an individual operation inevitably dictate a slightly different schedule. Many times work will have to be performed late at night or during off shifts, so Kaizen leaders should plan to provide basic sustenance (food and appropriate beverages) during the event; 16-hour days are not uncommon. Typically, the team should expect to complete about 80 percent of the task list during the event with the remaining tasks to be completed within four weeks.

Optimizing Kaizen Events

Conscientious examination of best practices and lessons learned will naturally produce opportunities to standardize and improve future Kaizen events. Automatically assuming that a solution or a best practice from another process will produce identical results can be a risk. These implementations need to be tested as rigorously as any other solution. Operations with a mature Kaizen culture will design facilities to support the frequent process changes necessary to maintain optimal performance in a changing economic environment. For example, equipment designed for mobility (casters where possible), power and air drops designed for quick reconfiguration, moveable lighting on tracks, strategically placed (or minimized) vertical structural supports, elimination of walls, and floors and pathways that are easy to clean and re-mark are all examples of structural design components that can enable more efficient Kaizen execution.

Even with such facility design features, properly run Kaizen events are still intense and team members should be fully aware and prepared for the expectations of this difficult assignment. This means all participants should keep safety foremost in their minds as they will be working under stress, often in environments that are not completely familiar to them and they should be recognized for their heroic efforts and commitment. The intensity of successful Kaizen events also suggests that they should be judiciously applied and participants should not be required for events on multiple consecutive weeks.

Keep the Change

Kaizen is a powerful tool for positive change. With proper planning, appropriate use of data and effective tool application, these events deliver significant results to process improvement and financial impact to businesses. Additionally, Kaizen is an effective tool for helping people learn about their own processes (what works, what does not work and what is possible) and for empowering them to effect change. These outcomes cannot be quantified financially, but they are an important foundation for a continuous improvement culture and a committed workforce that accepts responsibility for the performance of their processes. The priceless outcomes of Kaizen may well be more valuable to your organization than the directly quantifiable process improvements.