Standard Work ensures that work is done the best way possible — every time.
At its core, it consists of recording a process, effectively communicating that process, and then using that record as a basis for continuous improvement. Given the simplicity, it’s fair to ask, “does something so basic need an update?” This is a common thread we hear at Dozuki, as some would argue that there’s no need to change a simple formula.
People think, “Standard Work still works, right?”
Yet despite its deceptive simplicity, few companies are successfully implementing Standard Work, and the tools and methods that they’re using to practice it aren’t working. Having a standardized system for process improvement can increase efficiency, reduce variation, improve training, and create a lean culture. After over 60 years without an update, now is the time to reevaluate how the methodology is applied in the digital age of Industry 4.0.
Illustrate process inefficiencies and allow wasteful activities to surface.
This shifts the focus from placing blame on human errors, to a more positive culture of process improvement and preventative, risk-based thinking. As improving the process becomes the focus, employees are more empowered to think critically about how they can be involved.
Learning new processes often relies on one-on-one job-shadowing and apprenticeship programs, which are resource intensive and demand the time of more experienced employees. Standard Work helps new employees understand processes quickly and allows them to be less reliant on in-person training. With each task being documented to an approved standard, getting new employees up to speed no longer varies from trainer to trainer.
When information is only known by an individual or team, best practices can’t be communicated effectively, making companies reliant on a handful of experienced workers to share important information (“tribal knowledge”). Standard Work allows companies to unleash this information and share it with all employees, reducing the strain of employee attrition.
Verifying that employees are consistently adhering to procedures is nearly impossible without practicing set standards. Standard Work reduces variation and minimizes defects by creating a universal standard that employees actively engage with, giving them a clear understanding of where their actions deviate from the set process. These easy-to-follow instructions improve employee comprehension and retention of procedural information.
If done properly, you can rely on your Standard Work to scale procedures and train new employees quickly; freeing up valuable resources to focus on growing your business. Standards provide a base for improvement and take tribal knowledge from the minds of a few employees and turn it into a company asset by being easily shared with new employees. Standard Work enables companies to scale and get the same results from hundreds of people, hundreds of times.
One of the most common obstacles teams encounter when problem solving is a mixed understanding of the current process state. Without standards, teams do not have an agreement on the best way to produce the intended result. Standard Work gives everyone an understanding of how improvements affect the workflow in other, related processes.
In order to offer valuable feedback, employees need to be provided the proper opportunity and setting to share ideas. Standard Work contextualizes process improvement ideas by creating a baseline for how feedback is given, assessed, and implemented. When employees know that feedback is taken seriously, reducing waste becomes an opportunity to be an insightful contributor.
When the wrong parts are ordered or engineering design changes aren’t communicated to the assembly floor, scrap and rework pile up. Standard Work prevents scrap by giving an accurate account of the materials needed to maintain proper workflows. This way, when processes are altered or changed, the resulting effects can be predicted and prepared for, preventing costly rework.
Standard Work allows organizations to distribute resources more evenly by providing an accurate view of process flow and efficiency. By standardizing procedures, you can assess where bottlenecks exist and clearly define the minimum work in progress (WIP) to maintain proper flow.
When process variation is reduced, customer satisfaction goes up in tandem. Customers will see the benefits of Standard Work via a higher and more consistent product quality delivered by the process improvements standardization has generated. When work is done according to approved standards, customers get what they expect and quality remains the focus.
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