At Dataworks we strive to develop innovative solutions that support and enhance our clients overall Lean and Continuous Improvement strategy. This often means that we are solving a business problem for them and for this reason, it is essential that we fully appreciate their challenges and business environment so that we can deliver a targeted solution that resolves the issue at hand.
Our client base mainly operates in the medical device, pharmaceutical and general manufacturing sectors and most use Lean methodologies and tools daily to improve their operational performance.
It is fair to say that over the years we have developed a collaborative relationship with many of our clients where we have learned about the Lean tools that they employ during the delivery of a project – all the time trying to improve and innovate on the delivery of our software solutions and services.
We are now applying many of these tools in our own business and they have proven to be very effective. We use a variety of these Lean tools including Kaizen, Effort Benefit Analysis and Plan Do Check Act where relevant in the delivery of projects to our clients through each stage of our Software Development Life Cycle.
In this blog post we will take you through how we have used a Kaizen internally to help plan out the migration of our Quality Management System to Microsoft Sharepoint.
The purpose of the Kaizen was to identify areas of improvement in the current Quality Management System and to determine how Sharepoint could be used as our electronic QMS repository and as the mechanism for document control, collaboration and approval.
The Kaizen was facilitated and attended by Dataworks personnel
“A Kaizen Event is a structured team based effort that focuses organisational resources, delivers immediate solutions and accelerates improvements.”
Lean Six Sigma Tools used during Kaizen Event:
For the Kaizen we used the DMAIC approach – Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control.
The team defined the problem statement (which is also known as the current condition) and the goal we wished to achieve, the future state.
For the measure phase the scope was defined in more detail to guide the conversation during the Kaizen. This is a good example of adopting the LSS principles to suit our business needs. In manufacturing the measure phase may be used to highlight percentage of yield loss, amount of hours spent doing a task etc. Dataworks used the measure phase to identified the 7 Wastes using TIMWOOD (Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over processing, Overproduction, Defects) which highlighted which areas to focus on.
Analyse & Improve:
The analyse and improve phases were the central elements of the kaizen event. During these phases of the Kiazen the team analysed each element of the scope in turn. It was a team effort to plot the current state and come up with ideas for improving the future state based on the Goal Statement. Any actions agreed by the team were tracked by the scribe in the ‘Kaizen Newspaper’.
The Agenda allowed for time at the end of the Kaizen event for evaluation and follow up. We got some feedback from the team on the session and did a brief lessons learned as this was one of the first Kaizen held in Dataworks. We then preformed an Effort benefit matrix on actions in Kaizen Newspaper to agree priority of actions. After the action list was finalised the team agreed on using the PDCA – Plan Do Check Act approach to follow up on action items. It was agreed to identify 2 tasks to do and review after 1 week, whereby the next 2 would be identified. This would facilitate short incremental progress, as oppose to the traditional larger project plan which can often stagnate and even be demotivating when it comes to having too many tasks for too many people to “squeeze” into their already busy day.
Ground Rules for the Kaizen Event:
During the Kaizen the team implemented ‘Ground Rules’ such as:
- Create a safe environment – no idea should be criticised
- Avoid ‘Group Think’ – challenge the process/systems
- Post-it’s on the wall allows for free flowing discussion that involves the whole team while clearly showing progress.
- Acknowledge the resources to deliver new capabilities
- Keep on topic- keep on time as per set agenda. To help us abide by this we used the ‘Car Park’ technique. If we were discussing a topic that was taking us off track we would note it on a flip chart titled ‘Car Park’ to allow us to ‘park’ that idea and finish the good discussion offline.
The feedback on the Kaizen event from the Dataworks team involved was extremely positive. Some honest feedback was that we did not get to use all of the LSS tools available to us e.g. flowcharts, Fishbone Diagrams, 5s. However, the beauty of LSS is choosing the tools that you DO need to benefit your business – which is what we practiced during our Kaizen and found it very effective. Another team member highlighted the importance of giving an allotted time to allow for proper evaluation and follow up at the end so the next steps are agreed. Finally, there was general consensus that the new way of looking at “Current State” versus “Future State” put a nice framework around coming up with improvements which gave structure but yet didn’t stifle idea generation and contributions from all participants.
Our PDCA meetings have continued every week and substantial progress had been made. The PDCA is an effective way to manage tracking actions to completion as each week a team member takes no more then 2-3 actions. Giving everybody a manageable amount of work to do for the next meeting ensures that actions will be driven to completion effectively which is what we are seeing here at Dataworks.
Seeing how effective using Kaizen has been internally at Dataworks we now use/offer Kaizen in the delivery of projects for our clients, particularly in the requirements and analysis phase. It is a great tool for engaging with the client and helping identify the real system requirements. We are constantly improving and innovating how we deliver software solutions to our clients while working with them in a way that reflects their own business.
If you would like further information on how our tools and solutions can deliver real benefits to your business, please contact us today on 051 878555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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