Process Improvement Blog

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Looking for ways for your organization to increase productivity and trim budgets? You’ve come to the right place.

DocuPhase’s “Business Process Automation” blog will provide valuable insight into how your company can benefit from implementing document management and workflow automation into existing processes.

Offering a Discount to Create Waste

October 28, 2013

Volume discounts have been an assumed part of business for s long few people stop to think of them as the epitome of un-lean thinking they really are. It should be pretty obvious – telling customers we will charge less if you buy more than you need and keep it in inventory.

The boys writing for the Harvard Business Review blog are rarely relevant and even less often right … and when they are it...

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[MLC Exclusive] What’s in it for Me?

October 20, 2013

An article in the Financial Post explains “Why ‘temp’ is no longer a four-letter word in the workforce.” While it offers all sorts of reasons why the employer shouldn’t view temps as comparable to four letter words, it acknowledges that “it can be more difficult to see an advantage for an employee or job seeker.”

“Difficult” is putting it mildly.

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In closer touch with reality

September 23, 2013

We couldn’t give them a goal that could be high enough for them, because they would just break it,” says Watlow Electric CEO Peter Desloge.

No point in setting goals ‘cause no matter how high the goals they just blow through them too fast. I have to wonder exactly how many CEO’s can say that about their employees.

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Factory First

August 29, 2013

There are a couple of facets of lean that don’t get much publicity and attention:

The first is that the Subaru factory in Lafayette, Indiana is probably the leanest manufacturing operation in the United States – maybe the world. It is lean enough that Toyota outsources a sizeable chunk of its Camry production to Subaru. You can read about them in this article from BusinessWeek from a couple of...

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The Measure of Efficacy of Spend is Value Adding

August 13, 2013

A writer by the name of Lindsay Levkoff Lynn asserts that charities should not be measured on the basis of the percentage of its money that goes to the cause for which it exists. “We cannot measure efficacy of spend by looking purely at the ratio of overheads to programme costs,” she says. I was curious as to how someone could not just be wrong, but absolutely, totally, dead wrong about such a...

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Continuous Improvement for Dummies

July 25, 2013

Why Continuous Improvement May Need To Be Discontinued” – now there is a heck of a title for an article. The guy writing this for Forbes goes on to explain that ‘continuous improvement’ – and he lumps lean, Six Sigma, TQM and ISO into one big glob he calls continuous improvement – is all about efficiency; and efficiency is apparently the enemy of innovation, so the logic goes.

Let’s overlook the...

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Charging Extra for Waste

July 15, 2013

A consulting outfit helped the folks at the University of Virginia shorten the cycle time of the document editing process for such things as case studies and other teaching materials. The article in the Washington Post describing the improvement says they cut the time from about six months to one, and reduced the number of documents in process from 140 or so to about 26. (Note the correlation...

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Silly Accountants! Profits Are For Companies

June 05, 2013

A tip of the hat to Paul Todd in Georgia for alerting me to this article in the Detroit News waxing euphorically about GM. According to the boys in Detroit, “The reinvention of GM isn't ending anytime soon because it can't. After years of chaos in its financial management, GM is nearing the point where its finance and IT operations expect to be able to track the profitability of individual cars...

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A Reader Asks .... Inventory Valuation

June 05, 2013

When the previous CFO was here he changed valuing inventory from standard to current cost. There is some debate now whether that was the correct move or should we go back to standard cost valuing. Can you please give your thoughts? Maybe this will help the group.

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Systems Thinking Is The Key to Excellence

May 30, 2013

According to Wikipedia:

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Lean for Managing versus Managing for Lean

May 21, 2013

There are two sides to lean accounting. ‘Accounting for Lean’ is the radical approach to cost accounting – no standard costs, value stream structured, largely cash based, target costs and strategic pricing. ‘Lean for Accounting’ is the application of lean thinking and tools to accounting processes.

While they don’t use the terms Lean Accounting or Lean for Accounting, the Celanese guy who wrote “...

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NAM, Paychecks and CAT

May 17, 2013

I have been flipping back and forth about whether the theme of this post should be the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) going completely over to the dark side, or about the two polar opposite theories of compensating people. The prime evidence for the first theme and the poster boy for the second are embodied in one person – Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman.

To put this guy in proper...

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Headless, Heartless and Gutless

April 24, 2013

What do Red Lobster, JC Penney, Walmart, World’s Finest Chocolate, Midland Manufacturing and National Envelope have in common?

  1. Mediocre, if not downright terrible financials.
  2. An oppressive, heavy-handed culture.
  3. An absurd belief that reducing customer value is a good idea.
  4. Simple minded leadership that ‘lean’ means abusive labor.
  5. All of the above

Of course E – All of the above – is the right...

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A Reader Asks About Benchmarking, Headcount and Efficiency

April 16, 2013

Simioni from Brazil writes:

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Leaving Japan Behind

April 11, 2013

Rahul Garga wrote a piece concerning the Japanese economy in Seeking Alpha the other day called “Why Japan Might Find it Hard To Ease Out of This One”.

Among his points were:

“Japan once held a major competitive advantage in the field of manufacturing, which it successfully used to dethrone major Western industrialized countries in many different areas. For example, in 1980, Japan held over 50%...

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Rationalizing Waste

March 24, 2013

The folks at a retailer called Everlane posted a chart showing the cost structure of a designer T Shirt. It set off a litany of protest from folks in the retail world proclaiming that Everlane just doesn’t understand the reality of retailing, in particular, and business in general. The gist of their vehement complaints (often rising to insults) demonstrates just how removed many people are...

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Cash is King

March 05, 2013

Best Buy, the electronics retailer struggling to find a way to compete with the Internet, has announced that its cash flow is much better than expected. The reason – some $300 million worth of inventory it was entitled to send back to its suppliers, and finally did. The financial community is heaping kudos on the CFO for driving the effort and I suppose she deserves some credit for doing so, but...

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Over-Reliance on Technology

February 19, 2013

One of the major news sites reported yesterday on the cause of the fire that crippled the cruise ship off the coast of Mexico, speculating that a fuel leak came in contact with a “pile-on” light. I’m sure they meant a pilot light. Perhaps it was the result of a reporter who mis-heard an expert, and was too dumb to know that there is no such thing as a ‘pile-on’ light, but I suspect it was caused...

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No Room for Math People or People People

February 08, 2013

There is a little article in an obscure publication – Food manufacture – from the UK that nails a critical problem right on the head. Nestle chairman and CEO in the UK and Ireland Fiona Kendrick says, “Few would be engineers are ‘willing to really roll up their sleeves and get really involved, particularly when working with unskilled and semi-skilled operators.” The article, titled Graduates lack...

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The Essential Manufacturing Leadership Reading List

January 23, 2013

If you bounce onto the pages on Accounting & Finance, Culture & Leadership, Execution Tools, Strategy and Supply Chain you will find a couple of books listed on each page that collectively make up the essential manufacturing management reading list. These are the books that, in my not nearly humble enough opinion, make up the basics everyone should have read if they are serious about their...

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The Folly of Pricing Like an Economist

January 22, 2013

The practical advice from economics and economists when it comes to pricing when it comes to pricing can be written on the head of a pin.

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Executives to the Rescue

November 29, 2012

Once there was a manufacturing executive who was concerned about the inaccurate financial information he was getting, so he moved his desk up to the accounting department so he could figure out what was going on.  Soon he found out that about 80% of the way through month end close the accountants calculators' batteries were dying so any numbers bigger than they could count on their fingers and...

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Random Notes

November 27, 2012

An interesting article over at Industry Week:

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The Anatomy of A Twinkie

November 19, 2012

It seems rather curious that Hostess Brands CEO Gregory Rayburn would have so much time to talk to the business press over the last week or so as his company was racing toward liquidation, but he did and the message was consistent.  The unwillingness of the baker's union to take some 30% in compensation reductions was the cause of the demise of the Twinkie.

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Real Manufacturers Are From Mars Everyone Else is From Venus

November 09, 2012

It seems more and more apparent that the real world of legitimate manufacturing is completely unknown and unappreciated by just about everyone outside of it.  Terry Gau - chairman of Foxconn - says "he did not believe President Obama could succeed in moving production lines back to the US because Americans have outsourced those jobs for too long. But he hoped Americans could learn how factories...

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