By Max Krug, Eminence Consulting

One of the biggest challenges that organizations face when managing and growing their business is being able to hire and maintain good people. However, when performing evaluations of many organizations, one of the biggest issues that is apparent is that the organization has many underutilized people. The term ‘underutilized’ can be defined as not using the employee’s experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities to implement changes that will improve the productivity of the work force, where productivity is defined as converting inputs into useful outputs. However, in many organizations, there are usually many people doing busy work, and that busy work doesn’t convert into useful outputs. Therefore, there are people in the organization that are very busy, but are not productive.

Some of the common issues that businesses face are poor delivery performance, constant expediting, too much overtime, long lead-times, too much scrap and rework, and customer complaints. With all these issues, the question becomes, “How can the organization be managed in order to utilize the resources’ time more effectively to reduce or eliminate these issues?”

In order to address these issues and improve the productivity of the employees (getting more work done with the current resources), the organization must convert employees time from a reactive mode of working to a proactive mode of working. There are many techniques that have been developed that are designed to be proactive in addressing the cause of issues, understanding the potential things that can go wrong in processes, methods to monitor processes to identify minor issues before they turn into major issues, and methods to establish controls to minimize the likelihood that processes can be performed incorrectly.

The most effective technique in being proactive in addressing the cause of issues is with problem solving using root cause analysis methods. There are many different methods that are all effective in determining root cause, such as Plan-Do-Check-Act, 8D, A3, and Six Sigma DMAIC. It doesn’t matter which method is used to solve problems, but it is critical that the defined problem-solving process is strictly followed. Skipping steps or misapplication of the steps will not achieve the objective of identifying the root cause and elimination of the problem.

In addition, the techniques that have been developed to understand the product and process related risks include Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP), Design for Six Sigma (DFSS), and Process Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (PFMEA). These methods are designed to avoid product or process related problems by using advanced techniques to identify and eliminate risks that can contribute to problems. Lastly, the method that has been developed to monitor processes to identify process related issues before they turn into major problems is Statistical Process Control (SPC).

All of these techniques are proactive methods that can be utilized to overcome the challenge of “finding good people”. Organizations have many good employees. Implementing these powerful techniques can increase the productivity of the existing workforce and reduce some of the need to find good people to hire.

Max Krug has over 29 years experience in operations, including 16 years’ consulting companies in a variety of sectors. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Alfred University and a Master’s in Business Administration from St. Bonaventure University.