Irish Examiner

Case Study 2 – Advertising System

This second Lean project was identified by another employee at the Irish Examiner.  The Advertisement Production Department is responsible for the design and production of all advertisements for the Irish Examiner.  However, since they introduced a new advertising system, the processing time for content arriving via email increased significantly.  As a result, this represented a substantial waste on labour and associated costs.

Key Challenges

This employee saw an opportunity to eliminate processing time and reduce master ad processing time.  In short, this would improve performance within this department.

The Irish Examiner is a different and distinct voice in the national discourse, highlighting stories and perspectives not found elsewhere.

8-Step Problem-Solving Process

In trying to solve a particular problem, we advise using the 8-Step Problem-Solving Process:

  1. Problem
  2. Current State
  3. Target
  4. Root Cause Analysis
  5. Select Countermeasures
  6. Implementation
  7. Evaluation
  8. Standardisation & Learnings
Irish Examiner Workflow

Key Actions

We introduced a Kaizen Event to brainstorm for ideas among team members.  We considered and evaluated all ideas within the scope.

Then, we put all these ideas on an Impact/Ease Chart to assess the potential impact or benefits they will have on the company.  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, these four activities can be summarised as follows:

  1. Just Do It – these ideas have high impact and are easy to do now.
  2. Why Not? – these issues have low impact and are easy to address.
  3. Projects – ideas that have high impact but are difficult to address.
  4. Not Now – issues that have low impact and are also difficult to address.
Irish Examiner Workflow Chart

After plotting these ideas on an Impact/Ease Chart, the team implemented some of these countermeasures using the principles of 5S Workplace Organisation and Asset Care.

  • Firstly, the company automated the master ads process.
  • Second of all, they automated the processing of components.

5S Workplace Organisation is the principle of waste elimination in a business.  It is derived from the Japanese words seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke.  This can be translated as sort, straighten, scrub, systematise and standardise.

Asset Care is a new way of looking at maintenance. In TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) employees carrying out a process perform much of the general maintenance. One way to think of TPM is “deterioration prevention” as opposed to fixing processes. This can focus the work of the traditional maintenance team to improve process design with a view to improving reliability and performance.

Key Outcomes

  • Firstly, the data indicated that the newspaper made savings through automation.
  • Next, they agreed that they needed some additional training.
  • Then, management recognised that they did not anticipate any further resources being required.
  • Above all, the team achieved a significant reduction in lead time.
  • Most importantly, he time-savings that were made were applied to other slower processes.


  1. State the problem not the solution.
  2. Mapping the process focused our attention.
  3. We needed to view the problems through the eyes of the team.
  4. Small changes can have a high impact.
  5. The elements of the solution should be within our control.
  6. The evaluation stage can present unforeseen issues.
  7. It is essential to standardise the solutions to lock in the learnings.


We firmly believe that the expertise to develop business process improvements already exist in every organisation.  This has clearly been the case in the Irish Examiner.  Through their employees’ Lean projects, the company has made significant continuous improvements to their business.

ETAC has worked with the Irish Examiner to streamline their business and improve their processes.  We hope you enjoyed reading about this case study on their Advertising System.  You may be interested in reading the two other case studies featured here Case Study 1 – Different Languages and Case Study 3 – Purchase Order System.  All our case studies are available here.