In an increasingly competitive environment, companies are looking for ways to improve their competitiveness. The main levers to be used are cost reduction, but also – and above all – the involvement of employees, the real driving forces of the company.
Managers who see employee training as a burden or a financial burden are wrong. Instead, they should consider the human factor as an investment. Engaging teams in a process of continuous improvement increases the quality of service provided to the customer and proportionally increases the company’s profit. As such, introducing theoperational excellence is part of a coherent managerial strategy, in line with the evolution of working methods.

 

Improving quality through operational excellence


The objectives of operational excellence are:

  • optimize productivity;
  • improve product quality ;
  • reduce costs.

Among these objectives, improving quality remains one of the priorities, in particular to continue to satisfy existing customers, but also to attract prospects. The quality is based on the work done by the workforce. So improving quality means optimizing production processes but also the performance of employees.


Investing in employee training remains a fundamental lever. It is a mistake to think of time spent training as time wasted. Rather, an increase in skills should be seen as an additional contribution in added value.


Encouraging employees to think about solutions and recognizing their involvement, and implementing collective intelligence are all actions that contribute to operational excellence.


Understanding that the human factor remains the foundation on which operational excellence is based, means building a strategy by giving employees the means to perform and aiming for continuous improvement.

 

Which management methods to achieve operational excellence?


The management strategy deployed by companies committed to operational excellence will deliver better results with proven methods. These principles, which originated in the world of industry, are applicable to all company departments: logistics, purchasing, administration, etc.


This includes involving staff in a continuous improvement process. The manager must become a leader, motivate his teams and make them want to surpass themselves. Let’s go back to the collective intelligence mentioned earlier. It is indeed a fundamental strategy for operational excellence. It requires the involvement and motivation of teams. In this respect, it is the manager who must set the objectives, supervise and support his employees in case of problems, at all levels. He will report to the management and will be able to intervene quickly in case of malfunction.


Most employees are committed to doing well and producing quality work. They respond to what management expects of them and receive a salary in return. The emotional dimension that comes from the personal satisfaction of a job well done should not be underestimated.
This observation raises an essential point, which is the compensation of employees.

 

Just as you can convince a customer that quality pays, high performers can expect to be paid for their skills. However, to take into account the prospect of cost reduction, you will have to be careful and calculate the share of the wage bill according to the cost price of your product.

 

Using Lean Six-Sigma


It is the combination of two management methods: Lean and Six-sigma. Coming from the industrial systems of Toyota for one and Motorola for the other, these methods, although old, continue to prove their effectiveness today.

 

Principles:

  • control the processes throughout the customer order by the employees ;
  • bring action to the heart of the system ;
  • demand the ”
    Just in time
    “in order to reduce inventories;
  • prevent overproduction to reduce waste;
  • use organizational tools such as Kanban, Kaizen, Jidoka, etc. ;
  • increase customer satisfaction for increased profitability;
  • to create a work emulation in the company that guarantees the customers a delivery of their order in zero defect;
  • keep a critical eye on the competition to do better;
  • measure the standard deviation (the Sigma) up to 6 times between the customer’s high and low specifications;
  • engage in continuous improvement and employee involvement.


By combining the two methods, the business leader will increase the efficiency of his teams, reduce errors, defects, waste and costs, while meeting customer expectations.


Operational excellence therefore requires improving processes as well as employee skills and working conditions. It can be measured through performance indicators.


It allows companies to renew their product to adapt to a constantly growing environment. To achieve this, they need to be able to identify as early as possible problems that indicate the need for process and/or skill adjustments.


Operational excellence also allows us to measure customer satisfaction in real time, according to the rate they are willing to pay, in order to maintain a quality/price ratio adapted to a competitive market.


In order to improve working conditions, it is preferable to manage in a collaborative rather than hierarchical way, in order to value the autonomy of employees, at the risk of seeing them disengage from the process of operational excellence. As such, it is essential to consider team training and well-being at work as an investment and not as an unnecessary cost. It is essential to consider employees as the cornerstone on which the competitiveness of companies is based. Since improvement concerns all levels, it also involves management teams in the
operational excellence management
.