Case Study 3 – Design Projects
Another Lean issue identified by one of their employees was their design projects. These projects involved R&D, Sales and Marketing and Group Design. This team member determined that the design projects were taking on average 20 weeks to be completed.
To clarify, these projects included new electric stoves, new electric inset fires, new wall mounted fires, adjustments to existing designs to create new products and furniture designs.
By analysing the current state of the problem, this employee identified that there was:
- No formal process in place for projects between the three departments.
- Projects often ran over their allowed time resulting in production delays.
- Each team was not aware of the other teams timeline.
- Poorly defined briefs led to many turn backs.
He saw that there was an opportunity to put a definitive process in place that would streamline the operation. Moreover, the aim was to identify the areas where waste exists in current projects and introduce a clear and defined process. By doing this, they estimated that project lead times would be reduced from 20 weeks to 12 weeks.
8-Step Problem-Solving Process
In trying to solve a particular problem, we advise using the 8-Step Problem-Solving Process:
- Current State
- Root Cause Analysis
- Select Countermeasures
- Standardisation & Learnings
First of all, we organised a Kaizen Event with Glen Dimplex to eliminate waste and focus on doing the things that make changes that a customer values.
During the Brainstorming session, we asked the team to identify any issues that they felt negatively impacted on the current lead time of the projects. Next, each team member recorded these issues on post-it notes, silently and without any discussion. Then, they placed the post-its on the wall. At this point, R&D transcribed the ideas from Group Design and Sales & Marketing onto post-its so that all the issues were in one place. Finally, we analysed the problems and grouped them using an Impact/Ease assessment.
The result is a visual representation of where best to assign time and resources. We don’t discard any issues as their assessment may change over time as other problems are resolved. Therefore, we can summarise these four activities as follows:
- Just Do It – these ideas have high impact and are easy to do now.
- Why Not? – these issues have low impact and are easy to address.
- Projects – ideas that have high impact but are difficult to address.
- Not Now – issues that have low impact and are also difficult to address.
The event followed a set structure in order to identify the areas of waste within a process. Subsequently, we developed countermeasures to eliminate this waste.
- Clarify the Problem – An overview of the problem, the opportunity available, the target, the scope of the project, the project plan and the project team.
- Process Map – A map of the current process.
- Data – Data presented that highlights the problem.
- Root Cause Analysis – Silent Brainstorming problems, grouping problems and identifying problems to solve.
- Develop Countermeasures – Identify potential solutions to the problems identified.
- Firstly, the team created a project sheet. This outlined the issues that they decided to tackle and the steps that they were going to take in order to solve the issues.
- Next, they assigned countermeasure tasks to individuals and set deadlines for the completion of these tasks.
- Finally, they team agreed to reconvene on an on-going basis to discuss the progress of the countermeasures.
Standard Work is a very powerful but under-utilised Lean tool. By documenting the current work practices, this sets the base standard for what can be improved within the company. As continuous improvements are made, the new standard of work becomes the base for future changes.
- One of the key countermeasures that was implemented was defining a clear process with process steps and deliverables.
- Another key implementation/standardisation was the implementation of revision control on the designs that were released by group design.
- Next, they introduced a detailed design checklist.
- Finally, the company developed a checklist with a clear intention. This was to eliminate turn backs where R&D would have to revert back to Group Design for details of the design that might not have been considered.
As a result of this Lean project, the company decided to implement the Detailed Design Checklist countermeasure straight away on projects that are already within the design process. After implementing the checklist, the difference in the Designs received from Group Design is clearly identifiable. Most importantly, designs are much improved with all the information that is required clearly shown on them.
- We have implemented the current process along with the additional countermeasures on two current Design projects. These are progressing through the new process nicely.
- Other projects are nearing the end of the Sketch phase. Both are within the four week period as defined by the new process map. I am confident they will fall within the 12 week target that we have set ourselves.
We firmly believe that the expertise to develop business process improvements already exist in every organisation. This has clearly been the case in Glen Dimplex. Through their employees’ Lean projects, the company has made significant continuous improvements to their business.
ETAC Solutions has worked with Glen Dimplex to streamline their business and improve their processes. We hope you enjoyed reading about this case study on Design Projects. You may be interested in reading the two other case studies featured here Case Study 1 – Changeover Time and Case Study 2 – Assembly Line. All our case studies are available here.