Most companies still provide a tangible product or service. This means that companies need to have operations employing people to produce the product, deliver the product, or provide the service.
These operations are essential to great customer service and building business success. Without a strong operational capability, product will not be delivered, promises will not be kept, and the customer will not be satisfied.
So, what are the fundamentals that we, as leaders, need to keep front of mind, in order to drive operational success?
Safety: All operations must put safety first. The life and health of all employees must be the first and most important objective of any operational leader. No product delivered, no successful order, nothing is worth getting an employee badly hurt or (heaven forbid) killed. Safety is the first fundamental.
Quality: Right after safety is the quality of the product or service. Poor quality products and services aggravate and alienate our customers. And re-work and fixing quality problems is the biggest waste of money and time in most operations; fixing quality problems does not add any value beyond what should have been created the first time the product was produced or the service was rendered. Excellent quality is the second fundamental.
Fulfillment: Operations provides customer service by fulfilling the order per the customer’s wants and/or requirements. The dirty little secret of most operations is that up to 10% of all orders are not fulfilled as requested. Gearing the operation around fulfillment (along with safety and quality), rather than cost savings and efficiency, ensures that a quality product or service gets delivered safely to the customer when the customer needs it. That is customer service. That is best for the overall business success. And that is why fulfillment is the third fundamental.
Housekeeping: How do you realize safety, quality, and fulfillment? By having excellent housekeeping. Excellent housekeeping goes beyond keeping everything clean and orderly; it requires us to throw out everything except what is truly needed. And it requires us to have everything in its place and a place for everything. With this ‘extreme’ housekeeping, all of our operations will look simple, clean, and intuitive. Finally, excellent housekeeping is the headlights for our operations. Excellent housekeeping demands constant daily attention. And it is immediately visible. When the housekeeping begins to deteriorate, a decline in safety, quality and fulfillment is inevitable. As all operations experts know, there are no operations that are great at safety, quality and fulfillment where the housekeeping is poor. Housekeeping is the fourth fundamental.
Preventive Maintenance: To perform the first four fundamentals well requires that we have well-maintained and productive equipment and tools. Daily attention to preventive maintenance prevents the safety incident and failure to deliver that result from a broken machine or a broken down vehicle. Daily attention to preventive maintenance prevents the on-going quality issues and re-work that result from an out of specification machine or tooling. Daily attention to preventive maintenance is the fifth fundamental.
These five fundamentals are daily fundamentals. Each and every day in each and every operation, our operations leaders and employees need to be thinking: safety, quality, fulfillment, housekeeping and preventive maintenance.
David Shedd is President of Winning B2B Leadership, he advises small to middle-market clients and has written two business books: Build a Better B2B Business and 110% Success.
David has an MBA with Distinction from the Wharton School and a BA from Williams College.
For more information visit his site at Move Your Company Forward.