I am often asked for a definition of operations excellence. My effort is the following:
A continuous focus on strengthening an organisation’s operations improvement capability, through a system of knowledge that is embedded into the people, processes and technology, and which is the organisation’s way of working.
The challenge with continuous operations improvement is about sustaining the effort and results. The question is often what the requirements are for doing that?
I recently did the annual Excellence Award progress reviews at two of the Astral Foods, Meadow Feeds, Feed Mills (Paarl and Randfontein), where the 20 Keys System has been implemented since August 2003. During the review some of the requirements for sustaining such an implementation, and having consistent results in terms of QCDSM (Quality, Cost effectiveness, Delivery, Safety and Morale), again became clear:
1. A framework for improvement is followed, focusing on all the elements of operations, in a holistic and integrated way. Without a framework the focus is often quickly diluted, leading to ad hoc improvements and day-to-day issues taking preference. The framework is a balanced approach which focuses on the longer term and achieving short term results as well as on results (outputs) as well as ensuring that the inputs (people, processes/systems, and technology) are continuously strengthened.
2. All the Keys of the 20 Keys System are implemented, in all direct and indirect functions. Implementing the Keys in an integrated way provides a synergistic effect in terms of results and is an important part of sustaining the implementation, like a beanstalk plant where the individual beanstalks grow together to make for a strong plant
3. A structured approach is followed, whereby the CAPDo (Check, Analyse, Plan and Do) cycle of learning and improvement is used for doing regular progress reviews, both internally and externally (by ODI), progress is measured against operations best practices and action plans are updated accordingly. This provides a clear indication to everyone what the current situation is, the target and required actions. Apart from that it also creates new energy and a sense of challenge in the business.
4. There is active involvement of senior and middle management, from board level where feedback is given about progress at sites, to regional and site management who participate with on-site progress discussions, signing off of action plans for improvement, attending on site Champion meetings and regularly walk the floor, giving advice and recognition. First-line managers are developed to not only effectively manage the technical aspects of their jobs, but also the people reporting to them as well as operations improvement. The role of first-line management is a critical success factor and plays a significant role with sustaining the implementation. After all, more than 80% of people in the organisation typically reports to that level.
5. Champions are allocated to act as on site experts with regards to the various elements of the system. They support the implementation in line functions and have regular meetings to discuss progress, challenges and update action plans. A Site Facilitator ensures that the overall focus of the implementation is aligned with management objectives, provides support to Champions and feedback to management.
There isn’t a silver bullet, when you get the basics right results will follow, and it must always be remembered that people make up the organisation.
Both Feed Mills were re-certified in terms of the 20 Keys Excellence Award. Requirements for the award include:
- Sustaining high levels of maturity, measured against best practices, with all the Keys
- Improving Quality by 50%
- Improving Productivity by 50%
- Improving Speed/Reduction in Inventory by 25%
Well done to all at Meadow feeds Paarl and Randfontein!
Author: Johan Benadie – Director at ODI
To read more about the 20 Keys Continuous Operations Improvement System, click here.