Preventing Process Failure with FMEA (Failure Modes & Effects Analysis)

FMEA (Failure Modes & Effects Analysis) is a Lean Six Sigma technique for identifying both the ways that a product, part, process or service can fail and the effects of those failures.Once these failure modes are identified, they are rated by the severity of their effects and failure probability. This is critical to the design of any system, process, service or product.

FMEA-Round-1

Sample FMEA GRID

There are 3 types of FMEA’s; system, process and design. However in this post I will only touch upon the Process FMEA. Process FMEA’s identify the different ways that a process could fail and the effects of those failures. They are often used to identify and rank process improvement opportunities. For the lower risk failure modes preventative plans are put in place to ensure minimal impact to productivity, costs, and delivery.

For example, say a Health Tech Startup, creates an app for patient on-boarding with a plethora of functionalities that they consider to be in the “cool factor”. However, this overload of features could overwhelm the user and miss the value curve completely.¬† With an FMEA analysis they would be able to identify the most critical features, risks, and problems with the product before they take it to market, in turn, significantly reducing rework, product, and process costs.

Contact us now to learn more about how to minimize rework costs and identify problems in processes, systems or products before they are used or put into production.

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Lean Wednesday Tip: Customer Focused Process Improvement

 

“Effective Lean organizations study their processes from their customer’s point of view and align their processes to meet their customers’ needs the first time and every time.” – Donna Summers

The Anatomy of an Effective Strategic Plan

What is a strategic plan? In short, “a strategic plan defines the business the organization¬† intends to be in, the kind of organization it wants to be, and the kind of economic and non-economic contribution it will make to its stakeholders, employees, customers and community.”

To create an effective strategic plan an organization’s leaders must first clearly understand their business and what business they really want to be in. They must also conduct and have SWOT Analysis, customer research (including non-customers), economic, government (industry laws and regulations data), and technology (current and forecasting trends) accurate data available.

Once this information is available and carefully analyzed, leaders must discuss their intention to shift strategy with their team. All company departments should be given the opportunity to share ideas and express concerns. After the Voice of Employee has been acquired the strategic plan can begin.

An effective strategic plan is composed of the following:

  • Vision Statement
  • Mission Statement
  • Key Customer Value Factors
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Visual KPI Metrics
  • Contingency and Preventative Plans

To be effective, a strategic plan must be visual and are not meant to be paper documents that sit on shelves nor Word or PowerPoint documents that are only seen once. The CEO (top management) must also gain support from respected and persuasive key personnel that will drive buy-in to the new strategic plan and discourage opposition. Effective leaders align the strategic plan with daily business activities by translating what needs to be accomplished into how it will be accomplished. They give each department clear responsibilities and performance expectations instead of sending out a memo company-wide that this year they want to increase revenue by $10 million. In short, strategic goals are distributed in small batches.

Effective leaders ensure employees are given clear responsibilities and performance expectations; and are given timely rewards for achieving goals. They also ensure that the strategic plan contains clear objectives, provides and utilizes measures of performance, clear due dates and is visual.

Paid Tier Subscriptions based on consumer cooking levels can drive growth for Cooking Delivery Services

Cooking delivery services offer customers the convenience and adventure of trying new meals right at home. However, the offerings are very similar amongst all mayor players like Blue Apron, Plated and Marley Spoon. Fresh packaged ingredients, serving plans and delicious recipes is the main offering package. Blue Apron offers a wine subscription delivery plan and suggests wine per a customer’s meal choice which optimizes its value to customers.

However, there is an under-valued opportunity that I believe will really drive growth for these companies. By developing targeted tier paid subscriptions based on consumer cooking levels, lifestyle (fitness, vegan, et cetera), meal preparation time, dish type and ingredients will help them lure in non-customers and increase revenue.

For example, lets say a cooking delivery service wanted to target people who hate to cook or don’t have time to cook. They could offer a beginner paid subscription based on the consumer cooking capabilities with easy to follow educational video instructions, meal prep time categories, dish types, and lifestyle categories with upgrade options to intermediate, advanced and expert level cooking subscriptions. They could further optimize this by partnering with grocery stores and integrating a rewards system for users who complete and learn cooking skills (badges, coupons, et cetera).

This example demonstrates how understanding the non-customer can help companies realize common value factors between current customers and non-customers. By personalizing the cooking offering customers would be able to choose their preferred prep time, dish type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, et cetera) and lifestyle category, in turn, increasing overall satisfaction and value to the consumer.

Notable Bookkeeping Friday Chat: Voice of the Customer

 

“Companies that listen to their customers will achieve higher retention rates than their competitors. The Voice of the customer can be acquired through surveys, social media, forums, et cetera. For better customer satisfaction, Listen to them!”

Culture Engagement Starts with Top Management

Creating a Word or PowerPoint Culture reference material and distributing to employees on on-boarding day and briefly talking about it in your Monday morning meeting because you feel your employees are not “getting it” is not going to drive any significant results. Human Resources is not the captain when it comes to engaging employees in the company’s culture. Culture is top management responsibility.

Effective leaders are known to practice and support their culture on a daily basis. They integrate visual controls and visual KPI Metrics so that quality, productivity, cost goals and objectives are visibly clear. To quote Dwight Eisenhower, “They never listen to what I said; they always watch what I do.”

For example, if a Procurement Manager sees the CEO ignoring client calls when the culture document states, “Serve the Client”, it would now seem that the culture document is void because the CEO is not practicing it. The Procurement Manager now thinks its okay to ignore vendors/clients because the CEO does.

Leaders should engage with their employees everyday instead of only appearing when there is a problem. By actively participating in all the departments of the company and listening to employees, leaders can use the Voice of the Employee to identify bottlenecks and improve overall employee satisfaction. They also include all employees in the decision-making process by making strategic plans visual and accessible to all employees; and ensure their actions correspond with the company’s written vision and mission statements.

The fault lies with leadership when the employee does not know what she/he is supposed to do, does not know what is expected of them, has no means to assess if the work is being doing properly, nor has the authority or means to correct the process when something is wrong. Effective leaders know the importance of translating the vision and mission of the company into daily activities. They set realistic goals for their employees and provide timely rewards to those who meet them. And offer educational and training opportunities to enhance their employees’ capabilities.

Lean Wednesday Tip

 

“To run an efficient accounting department opt for a chart of accounts with less than 180 accounts for improved productivity and financial planning.”

The Know Your Customer Technique for Business Growth

I have written blog posts about utilizing the Voice of the Customer (meaning using surveys, forums, social media, and focus groups) to gather and analyze data for the purpose of identifying revenue opportunities and increasing overall client satisfaction.

Customer-centric companies build emotional relationships with their customers and listen to them. They search for the pain points the customers are having by using their product or service. When they identify these pain points they are able to develop products, services, or solutions to eliminate them.

For example, say a cooking delivery service wants to differentiate itself from its competitors by taking a Know Your Customer approach and utilizing the Voice of the Customer to glean insights into critical customer pain points. In doing so, they realize that customers would pay for prepared healthy lunch meals that are similar to the to the meal options available to them near their workplace. By personalizing lunch meals based on local information, user preferences, and proper packaging for ease of travel the cooking delivery service was able to take advantage of an under-valued market opportunity and drive revenue.

In this example, the cooking delivery service decided to realize revenue opportunities by shifting its buyer focus. It decided to target non-customers that don’t really like to cook but want delicious prepared lunch meals that are similar to the ones they buy at work. Companies that continuously drive growth know the importance of understanding their current customers but also the customers that hate them and non-customers. They are driven by the pain points of these customers so that they can take advantage of first-to-market opportunities to develop solutions to these pain points.

The Know Your Customer approach is not something that can be outsourced. It is implored that you see and talk to customers yourself because that is the best way to truly understand how they are and are not using your product or service. It also offers the opportunity to realize new ways to offer value to your customers and non-customers.

Reduce A/P and A/R Errors with Standardized Work

Per my previous article, “Taking a Visual Management Approach to Accounts Payable”, I touched upon a Lean Six Sigma technique, called, Standardized Work.

“Standardized work is often referred as standard operating procedures to refer to the activities that must happen in order to complete a process. Essentially, everyone doing the job does it exactly the same way.” There should be no difference as to how your Sr. Accounts Payable Manager enters and processes bills versus your Junior Accounts Payable Coordinator. There would also be no difference between the 10th time they did the work or the 7,000th time they performed the work.

These standards and process procedures should include visual checklists, setup procedures, an integrated preventative plan, or other process steps. They should be written in terms of expected behavior or actions, and must be auditable.

Why do visual process controls make sense? It is known that people gain 80% of their information from their vision, 18% from their hearing and 2% from other senses. By implementing visual standard operating procedures for Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable you aid in the reduction of transaction errors and process cycle time; and improve overall productivity, and client and vendor relations.

Critical departmental information, such as, KPI metrics (cost of A/P and A/R invoice, current process cycle time, on time delivery rate, et cetera) compared with industry and competitor data should also be visual as this will prompt your team to look for opportunities to improve.

Notable Friday Chat: Care about your employees!

Happy Friday!

I hope you’ve had a productive and enriching week. Today I want to leave you with a short message that will have a significant impact on your talent management goals and overall company wide health. I hope you have a great weekend and remember, “Success is continuous improvement!”

 

“Taking the time to talk to and ask atleast one employee each day how they are doing and somehow guide them in solving a professional or personal problem will in turn, help you build a stronger relationship with your employees but also support your talent management goals.