Can Data Collection Streamline Operations?

Data, data, data… The word data can be a scary word if you don’t really know what it means or how to use it. First off, when it comes to data, do you use ALL your data, or just bits and pieces? Or, gulp; maybe you don’t use any data at all? The simple truth is that no matter which way you look at data it is a helpful tool for improving process functionality. Without data you wouldn’t know or understand anything related to your business revenue, costs, safety, production time, etc. Running a business without utilizing data analysis is like trying to put a puzzle together in the dark, there is no real guidance and success will be really hard to achieve.

Accurate Data + Lean = Better Efficiency

Most of us are familiar with the practice of lean which includes eliminating waste to improve processes to inherently increase customer value. However, data acquisition and analysis should be added to the efficiency equation as well. When it comes to using data in the practice of lean Dan Llika of canadianmanufacturing.com states:

Having true insight over your data will help you identify those areas that aren’t lean (and) will help you make better decisions around those areas that may need to be leaned, processes that need to be optimized.

The amount and method of data collection matters, many times it’s the lack of data collected or a lack of understanding on how to collect the data that leads towards process inefficiency. If data doesn’t show whether a process is working successfully or providing the desired results, how can the process be identified for improvement? It is important to know the details of business processes so they can be adjusted if necessary. For instance, some manufacturing facilities use an “hr X hr” method of data collection to measure employee efficiency. Using this method, employees must show many parts were assembled each hour and for which orders. In addition, this form of data collection also tallies up the number of defects. Then at the end of each workday it allows for supervisors to observe overall employee job performance. Furthermore, this method also makes the employees accountable for their work performance as well.

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Dan Llika quotes Rhys Morgan, the senior manager in technology strategy with Deloitte’s Edmonton office by stating:

Everyone’s making big investments in lean manufacturing, but where are you going to start? If you have a better understanding of your organization you know where to invest your lean dollar much more efficiently to get a better bang for your buck.

And the best part is, applying analytics to your business is only as expensive was you want it to be, according to Morgan.

Morgan is right; applying the tactic of analytics does not need to break the bank. In fact, there are many low cost and even free software options out on the market right now that can be effectively used within small business operations. However, it is important to keep in mind that the small cost of acquiring the needed and pertinent business data is a tiny price to pay when the results of the data can help make processes more lean and save you valuable time and money.

Resource: pulpandpapercanada.com, by Dan Ilika 2. July 2013

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