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5 Challenges of Embedding Control Charts in Daily Process Management

5 Challenges of Embedding Control Charts in Daily Process Management- image - 1

Where do control charts fit in Daily Process Management?​

As a step change Improvement Practitioner, you’ve delivered results and made a real business impact with your project.  Now, you need to ensure that the improvements you’ve standardised are maintained; that they are embraced by your team and become the new way of working.

A vital tool in the ‘Maintain’ phase of the perpetual Daily Process Management cycle of Standardise, Maintain, and Improve (SMI), the use of control charts is essential for monitoring processes for consistent performance; signalling when a change has been detected which requires investigation.

Empowering your team members who work within the process to take responsibility for this monitoring and evaluation is not just a practical solution, but also fundamental to building a culture of Continuous Improvement in your organisation.  But beware of the challenges you may face when embedding control charts in Daily Process Management – so you can address them from the outset.

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Helping your team overcome typical control chart challenges

Here are 5 common reasons why you might not have the long-term buy-in you need from your team to generate insights from this top improvement tool:

 

1. They don’t understand the purpose

What are control charts, and why is this one important?  Building capability alongside assigning responsibilities is crucial for managing the socio-emotional realities of setting up Daily Process Management.  Clearly communicate the purpose of monitoring this process, so that your team can be confident that they are contributing to success.

 

2. You’re measuring the wrong thing

The specific variable that you measured during your improvement project may not be the characteristic that is key to understanding ongoing process performance.  Make sure that your control chart is still relevant; review your Voice of the Customer output measures for any variables which are more pertinent, and periodically check that this is still the case.

 

3. It’s too time consuming to maintain

The ultimate paradox in the world of improvement.  Communicate to your team that control charts will signal when action is required, and not responding to ‘false alarms’ could save them hours of wasted energy. Create simple Standard Operating Procedures and provide training on data collection.  Ensure charts are easily accessible and can be updated in real time.

 

4. There’s too much data to see what the chart is telling them

Control chart software can easily display hundreds of data points to tell the story of a process’ performance over time.  But just because it can tell you if your process was stable and predictable 5 years ago, is that really useful for monitoring what’s happening right now?  Set control limits based on the learning phase and make a sensible judgement on how many data points to display to ensure your control chart is legible, current and purposeful.

 

5. It’s not visible

Out of sight, out of mind?  Performance huddles are the link between your organisation’s data and its people. Sharing control charts in regular huddle meetings mean they are reviewed and discussed at the right time, by the right people, in the right ways.

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The influence of effective control charts in a culture of Continuous Improvement​

As an active practitioner, you’re aware of the benefits of using control charts to understand performance.  When also building the capabilities of your team and enabling them to take an active role in maintaining and monitoring control charts for the processes they operate, your improvement efforts can have a wider reach across your organisation.  Together you can optimise processes, increase quality, and stop variation in its tracks.

Top tips for embedding the use of control charts:​

  • You don’t need to be a statistician to use control charts – they can be created in Excel, PowerBI, or you could invest in software – let the tech do the hard work for you
  • If you can see how your process is performing, you can make it better. Share with your team how embracing the use of control charts contributes to success
  • Build capability so that operators can make an immediate yes/no decision to the question, “Do I do something or not?”
  • Model and encourage the use of control chart terminology so terms like “variation”, “stable and predictable”, and “signal” are recognised across your organization

 

Train Your Team Beyond Control Charts
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