A Few Thoughts on Process Improvement

A benchmark is a standard or point of reference used in measuring factors such as quality, productivity, service, or cost. Benchmarking, therefore, is the process of comparing an existing business process with internal or external benchmarks in order to identify best practices of industry leaders, establish realistic and achievable operating goals, and define and implement process change. And process improvement, says
Bill Kuipers, principle of Haskell, NJ-based consultancy Spaide, Kuipers and Co., is not an initiative; it’s a mind set.

With that in mind, Kuipers offers the following advice:

  • Don’t get carried away with attempting company-wide projects. Focus on activities that would benefit most from a makeover. And given that labor is invariably the highest cost in fulfillment operations, the obvious starting point is to invest in higher productivity.
  • Bear in mind that not all process reengineering requires large capital outlays.
  • Avoid “analysis paralysis.” Start early and move fast—and there is no such thing as too fast.
  • Good managers share a sense of urgency and a “zero tolerance” for poor productivity. Decisive managers, making good intuitive decisions based on actionable data, always outperform managers who insist on more and more analysis.
  • It’s always better to address problems early before they grow exponentially and, more important, diminish the available solutions.

Bill Kuipers will be presenting “Real-World Examples of What Works in the Distribution Center and Why: a Pictorial Tour” on Tuesday, May 1, at NCOF.

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