The Value of Simplification


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Published November 21, 2014

I just left an executive SIOP (sales, inventory & operations planning) meeting with a client. We are rejuvenating the process to gain alignment and to spur a rapid improvement in on-time delivery (which will be followed by a reduction in lead times). I’ve been working with quite a few of these types of projects lately, and they have reminded me of how easy it becomes to get caught up in non-essential detail. Since SIOP process relies on data, the natural tendency is to dig further into data and think up all sorts of interesting ways to look at information; however, what I’ve seen “work” is simplifying with a relentless focus on the critical success factors.

For example, if the data shows we have 50% excess capacity for a particular work center, it doesn’t matter whether it is 40% or 60% or if the numbers were calculated before or after an accounting adjustment. The point is that 50% is a significant, directionally correct number. Put together plans to leverage this new finding. Thus, in this example, perhaps you could re-allocate crews from this work center to a different overloaded work center if you provide training during the transition.

One tip to implement this week:
I find that the vast majority of my clients get hung up in finding the “perfect solution”, in analyzing “one more” set of data and the like. On Monday, take a step back to think about your top 3 priorities. Then, re-evaluate the metrics being tracked and your performance to the metrics. Ask someone intimately involved in the day-to-day process for their thoughts on the topic. Simplify: decide what is relevant, stop focusing on the non-essential (which can be a significant portion of our day) and move forward. Progress and results will accelerate!