LEAN is Continuous Improvement

Waste Reduction & Waste Management

My approach to LEAN is to maximize customer value while minimising waste. Simply, LEAN is creating more value for your customers using fewer resources. By having access to live data, LEAN guarantees great customer service, customer communication and stock flow, among many other things, to help the decision making process. LEAN prevents duplication, avoids human error, eliminates mistakes and leads to open communication. With LEAN Continuous Improvement implementation, all this becomes possible for your business.

LEAN is:

  • Continuous improvement, small tweaks often for the overall benefit of the company;
  • Every employee is responsible for updating and changing their area;
  • All suggestions are welcome, people are not afraid to speak up;
  • Open communication, everyone is equal and respected;
  • Working together for overall gain of the company, not competing with each other.

The success-factors of supply chain management – an accountant’s perspective

Supply-chain management can be complex and daunting. From an accountant’s perspective, here is my list of success factors:

  • Free flow of information: accounts department receive information on time, more accurate accounts, time spent on proactive accounting rather than reactive.
  • 80/20 Rule: if the 80% is working to plan, then it becomes easier to fix sort the other 20%.
  • Concentration on the unusual ‘one-offs’, or unusual customer, or unusual transactions.
  • Accurate accounts & areas of concern: easy to identify & actions to take to correct them.
  • Improvement in bottom line
  • Goods ordered on-time, arrives on-time, follow-up easier, as it’s all on system and people know what is required of them.
  • Goods returned can be monitored, credit notes applied for, damage identified & incorrect orders identified to ensure that system is correct and invoices match goods receipt, etc.

Continuous improvement: why is process mapping important?

Process mapping is important for several reasons:

  • Flow of informaton: by allowing employee involvement in the process, they will know where information is coming from and going to; Result: we can prevent duplication and improve communication; 
  • Format of information: how is the information communicated, what is the best format to receive and send the information in; Result: identify areas of error or areas of potential duplication, identify ‘what if’ scenarios;
  • Identify key personnel and key processesResult: training identified and the importance of documenting key roles and processes;
  • Identify permanent changes or improvements in a process for long term efficiencies. Result: documenting corrective actions;
  • Collation of data: prevent loss of data or having to ask the same questions over and over, or to prevent duplication of phone calls or emails; Result: set-up templates for consistent communication, all information will be on the template and you will only have to ask for it once; processes flow better;
  • Identify communication issues. Results: seamless employee involvement and team-work, as focus is on the process and not the employee doing it;

In summary, if the process is broken, how can we fix it? Is it training, lack of resources, new employee requirement, employee turnorver, disrupted communication, lack of documentation, input in inconsistent format? We want to find out what needs to improve or change to improve the business flow. Identify ‘what is currently not working?’

Supply chain: key things to consider for setting up your business for success, from a finance and operations project management perspective

Questions to ask…

  • Inputs and Outputs, where they come from? In what format?
  • Processes: how are these currently carried out?
  • Is everyone aware of how their job affects the next job? Employee involvement from day one.
  • What is the vision of the company and overall goals? How do these feed down into the individual roles? 
  • Key Performance Indicators for employees that feed into the vision of the company.
  • Contract, what is the job specification? Is employee clear on what their spec is and what their requirements are?
  • When do they know they have done a good job?
  • Monitor the performance.
  • Budget vs Actual? Monitor accounts monthly; meetings and communication discussions around accounts; monthly performance and what was done well or could be improved; what not to do again?

Project Management involves Big Picture vision and is all about forward thinking

  • What might go wrong and how can we prevent it?
  • Are all key personnel involved from the onset?
  • What resources will be required?
  • What compliance needs to be thought through, are there costs involved, are they signed off by finance or relevant person.
  • Who is involved? Who will be affected by this Project? What outside companies/stakeholders will be involved?
  • Was insurance considered?
  • Is capacity an issue?
  • What other projects are going on and what is clashing with it?
  • What could cause this project to fail?
  • What timelines are involved?
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