As the vice president of quality for a $1.5 billion-dollar industrial corporation, Hermann Miskelly is responsible for leading its continuous improvement effort. Now in his 10th year of a Lean Six Sigma deployment, he has overseen the execution of more than 4,000 major improvement projects and another 6,000 small improvement projects. Here are three key insights he shared about managing continuous improvement projects, with the help of Companion by Minitab.
Editor's note: This post originally appeared on The Minitab Blog in May 2018.
1. Optimize your management systemYou don’t just need to execute improvement projects. You need to improve the way that you manage them.
“Across all our operations and business units, these [Excel] spreadsheets required more than 120 man-hours each month to collate, analyze, and prepare for monthly executive reviews of the continuous improvement effort,” says Miskelly. “Overall, our management system was slow, cumbersome, and labor-intensive, and we were looking for a better way to execute and manage our continuous improvement effort.”
It’s important that you have a management tool that facilitates day-to-day project management and allows you to quickly report on your progress for strategic alignment with key executives. Wasting time on gathering data from different reports across different internal systems takes you away from driving the change that matters.
2. Flatten the learning curveSpend less time learning new tools or software — whether implementing a new process or onboarding a new employee.
“With the new Minitab Companion software system, all of this effort basically disappears. Individual projects are executed using the desktop project management portion of Companion. Being similar to the former Minitab Quality Companion, the learning curve for our Green Belts and Black Belts was minimal. Customized forms used for initial project approval and final project review have been integrated into a standard template, further simplifying project management.”
3. Make it easy to track resultsMiskelly says that Companion’s dashboard capability has made the greatest improvement to the company's ability to manage a vast number of projects.
“No longer collating and analyzing spreadsheets at the end of the month, our operations and business unit leaders are able to look at their continuous improvement efforts as a whole and, if required, dig down into individual projects. The dashboard allows them to track project information — counts, started, completed, late, etc. — and financial information such as forecast savings vs. actual savings, in real time. Operations and business leaders can now focus on analyzing progress and identifying opportunities for new projects.... Once again, Minitab has studied and listened to its customers, and delivered a product that solves our continuous improvement problems.”
Ready to try the tools that contributed to the success of Hermann and his team? Download your 30-day free trial of Companion by Minitab today.