Did you know that up to 85% of machine, product, quality, and service-related problems are caused by Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) not being followed?
In Key 11 of the 20 Keys Operations Management System, the SOP is defined as “the current best method for producing products and services at consistent
- quality (Q),
- cost effectively (C),
- on time (D) and
- safely (S)”.
If there is any deviation from relevant SOPs, there will, by definition, be a problem with one of Q, C, D or S, a combination of it, or all of it. The word current in the definition indicates that there might be a better way, if so, the SOP is updated and followed. If not, the current SOP is followed. That is, ALWAYS follow the SOP.
The objective of the SOP is standardisation; to identify the best-known way of managing a process/system or executing an activity /sequence of activities, and then to ensure consistent execution according to the defined best way. One of the paradoxes created by the Toyota Production System and other Japanese approaches to the development of World Class Manufacturing, is that they advance a system based on the rigid standardisation of processes and systems, highly specifying all activities in terms of content, sequence, timing and outcome with the objective to remove all uncertainty and variability from operations. This allows no creativity in the general execution of tasks. However, the underlying principle is that creativity is important for the structured and systematic improvement of tasks, when a better method is found, the SOP is updated. All improvements are therefore done relative to an existing standard, and if proven effective, becomes the new standard. If a standard does not exist, it must be created first. SOPs also used for training, ongoing re-training as well as doing assessments on skills levels.
One way of ensuring that SOPs are known and followed, is to do regular task observations in the workplace.
- Does the person executing the work know the SOP?
- Is the person capable of doing it correctly (skill)?
- Does the sequence as stipulated by the SOP, produce the desired outcome (design conditions)?
When looking at improving operations or eliminating problems, organisations often opt for complex studies and solutions. This might be necessary in some situations, but it is always important to assess the basics first; is the SOP the current best way?, is it known?, is it being followed, without fail?
The Implementation approach to Key 11 of the 20 Keys system is to
- train the Quality Department and Production teams in the concepts of Key 11.
- identify improvement opportunities, based on Key 11 principles, and the check-sheet, and
- draw up an implementation action plan, with relevant KPIs for Quality and Production.
- apply the CAPDo cycle for the regular review of the Key 11 implementation action plan, as well as achieving the target maturity level of Key 11.
The 20 Keys system aims to improve productivity, profitability and the long-term sustainable competitiveness of a business. To find out more, click here.