Thursday, June 7, 2012

Supporting Continuous Improvement Efforts with Incident Management (Part 1 of 2)

In our last post on Level3, “Ghosts, Goblins, and Monsters – The Power (and Danger) of Visibility”, Mike Stuedemann included a fantastic list of actions that you can take to maintain and build the organizational courage to follow through on improvement efforts. I’m particularly fond of the (adapted) Voltaire quote “perfection is the enemy of done” and his recommendation to start simply and iterate often. The continuous improvement process works, anyone telling you differently is selling something. 

But there’s a situation that I run into very frequently, more often than you would expect, when I am talking to customers and prospective customers. They have a known list of “problems” that are impacting their manufacturing operations, sources of waste and inefficiency (scrap events, unplanned tool downtime, frequent setups, etc.) but they don’t have enough information about them to quantify their impact and prioritize them, let alone address any underlying root causes. Recognizing and acknowledging this is a good thing because there’s a lot you can do to support the continuous improvement process.

One thing we advocate is having a rigorous business process in place to manage how you respond when problems occur – we call it Incident Management. It’s a “Workflow based System”, a tightly defined collection of configurable workflows that work in concert to manage incidents through a standard process – Creation, Notification, Investigation, Resolution, Review and Approval. Incidents can be configured to run through the full process, or a subset depending on the level of response required. User activities are managed through a SharePoint portal and directed to participants based on roles. As it is a collection of workflows, so it’s easily reconfigured to meet unique customer needs.

In a couple of days I’ll publish a follow on to this post. I have a customer example that will help describe the functionality and benefits of Incident Management, so stay tuned.

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