Driving immediate and tangible benefits with ‘Happy Path’ analysis
Identifying causes of poor health
Let us now turn to frequently occurring impediments to meeting the desired state on these vital signs. We will call them “Causes”. An outline of the checks recommended to identify Causes is as follows. It is worth breaking these up by categories like people, processes, policies etc.
- Are the people performing the tasks available, accountable, motivated, and skilled?
- Are the IT systems they need to use capable, well-integrated, responsive and easy to use?
- Are policies kept up to date and in line with current customer expectation, regulatory requirements and technology potential?
- Are process metrics, especially each vital sign or the nearest proxy, measured and reported reliably?
- Are processes and work instructions documented, up to date and clearly understood?
- Are hand-offs minimised if not eliminated?
- Does work happen in “single piece mode” or does it get batched?
Single Piece Flow refers to the concept of moving one workpiece at a time between operations within a workcell. At the opposite extreme, we might process an entire batch or lot at each operation before moving it to the next operation.
In addition, it is advisable to review some aspects of the current process at a high level: Is there is any specific part of the process where work waits for too long even before being started? Or where it takes too long after it has been started? Any part where there is too much rework? Or incorrect allocation of resources? Or simply too much work, or perhaps not enough, or too much volatility in the workload?
This last set of questions is included here for completeness and to get your thinking going. Apart from analysing the right symptoms and causes, it is also helpful to build what we call a “Happy Path of Hand-offs” to see exactly where these issues are affecting the business. To see this technique through a worked example, click here.