Management Article

John Bell’s picture

By: John Bell

Should every company be striving for the type of strategic advantage that has become the hallmark of Amazon, Google, and Facebook? For sure, in the tech world, it’s hard to imagine success without quick and continuous technology improvement. What about your world?

Whether you sell information or cremation, the common thread for success is sustaining an advantage. The means to this aren’t limited to technology breakthroughs. There are all sorts of strategies and cultures that can bolster and sustain a company’s supremacy.

Multiple Authors
By: Stephan Manning, Marcus M. Larsen

One of the big themes in the current presidential race is how decades of free trade have dealt a heavy blow to the U.S. worker as millions of jobs were shipped overseas to take advantage of cheap labor.

That’s even turned some pro free-trade Republicans into protectionists. As a result, the candidates are promising to bring these jobs back to the United States—whether by lowering taxes (Donald Trump), improving skills (Hillary Clinton) or building infrastructure (Bernie Sanders).

Evan Miller’s picture

By: Evan Miller

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PLZ Aeroscience is North America’s largest custom aerosol manufacturer and packager. It produces its own private-brand products and custom formulations, and provides contract filling for other customers. PLZ has been in business for more than 100 years and during the last six years underwent significant growth—and the inevitable growing pains.

Legacy systems hamper growth

Recently PLZ managers realized that their legacy paper-based data management systems also need to change to effectively manage that growth. PLZ had grown through acquisition and expansion of privately owned brands. As the company combined smaller operating entities, each with its own processes and systems, PLZ needed to consolidate these information systems and improve operating efficiency.

Takehiko Harada’s default image

By: Takehiko Harada

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the book, Management Lessons From Taiichi Ohno: What Every Leader Can Learn From the Man who Invented the Toyota Production System, by Takehiko Harada (McGraw-Hill Education, 2015).

The phrase, “kaizen equals getting closer to the final process” was hardly used by people at Toyota, which I think is why it stuck in my mind. It seems like a simple phrase, but many people have told me that it is confusing, so I will explain the background to the situation.

When I was around 30 years old, I was working as an engineer in the headquarters machining plant. I was on the No. 3 truck undercarriage line. This line was synchronized with the main assembly line and supplied parts to it. The final process was to do a quality check, and sometimes that took a long time, delaying the delivery of parts to the main line and causing a stoppage. As a result, this problem was interfering with the stability of operations.

Gwendolyn Galsworth’s picture

By: Gwendolyn Galsworth

Visual scheduling is a plain, two-dimensional format that maps out which products, parts, or subassemblies need to be produced, and when, in what quantity, and in what order. Nothing could be simpler.

In companies where schedules aren't published in a single, centralized location for all to see and know, the effect of a visual schedule can be revolutionary. Core information is no longer one of the company's best-kept secrets known only by a chosen few (i.e., the planner and a handful of supervisors). Operators won't have to ask, and ask again: "What am I supposed to make now, boss?" They know what that boss knows: the production schedule. In fact, put in a visual/physical format, everyone can access the schedule at will because it's both visual and physical. No longer is it insider information.

Truth be told, in most organizations, withholding production information is not intentional. It doesn't occur to managers to make the schedule widely and simultaneously known. More times than not, the production schedule is on a computer, which in the minds of many managers and planners is the same as universally available. To them computer-based schedules are convenient, make sense, and allow for easy updates. Who would argue with that as a best-case practice? I would.

Brooke Pierce’s picture

By: Brooke Pierce

The healthcare industry is in a state of constant change, and with change comes opportunity. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), healthcare providers are, or will be, paid differently for their services. No longer can they rely on the volume of services rendered to generate sustained income.

With the transition from volume-based payments to value-based payments, many health systems are investing in data analytics platforms to help expose cost savings, as well as uncover hidden revenue. But is investing in data analytics worth the cost?

With the high cost of data analytics packages, you should expect a positive return on investment (ROI). There are many ways health systems can use data analytics tools to generate a positive return. Data analytics tools can be used in a variety of situations—lowering administrative costs, supporting clinical decisions, reducing fraud and abuse, coordinating care, and improving patient wellness, for example. Healthcare systems have many options to use data analytics tools to increase the bottom line by reducing costs and increasing revenue. Some options are easily quantifiable while others are not, and therein lies the difficulty in determining ROI.

Harish Jose’s picture

By: Harish Jose

Today I’d like to talk about kaizen—specifically, the order for kaizen. The term has come to mean “continuous improvement,” but kaizen originally translates from Japanese as “change for better.” To help clarify this useful concept, I’ll present three different views for approaching kaizen: Taiichi Ohno’s, Shigeo Shingo’s, and Hiroyuki Hirano’s.

Taiichi Ohno’s view (semi-strategic)

Taiichi Ohno is known as the father of the Toyota Production System (TPS). He has stated that there is a proper order for kaizen. This is:
• Sagyo kaizen (operations improvement)
• Setsubi kaizen (equipment improvement)
• Kotei kaizen (process improvement)

Jeffrey Eves’s picture

By: Jeffrey Eves

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There are many paths for organizations to become good, sustainable, low-footprint citizens of the business world. Production processes can be redesigned to be more efficient, corporate campuses can be located so as to reduce employees’ dependence on fossil fuels, and buildings can be built with energy efficiency in mind—and consumers are paying attention.

According to findings from the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, nine out of 10 consumers expect companies to operate responsibly, addressing social and environmental issues. Global consumers also revealed that they act on those expectations when making purchases. Eighty-four percent of consumers globally say they seek out responsible products whenever possible, though 81 percent cite availability of these products as the largest barrier to not purchasing more.

Helena Lui’s picture

By: Helena Lui

There’s an old saying that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Every project manager knows that she has to create a realistic project budget before the project begins. This step is not optional because when you’re midway through your project and realize you’ve run out of money, you’re in big trouble.

Although every project is different, there are some commonalities in the steps to creating a project budget. Here are six steps to creating and maintaining healthy finances for a project.

1. Look through lessons-learned documents

If there are records of similar projects within your company, use their project budgets as a model. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, and this will save you a lot of time and effort. You may want to talk to other project managers to fully understand how their budget models work. Also, consider having a team member look through similar activity costs from past projects to help determine the activity costs for your project. This is called analogous estimating.

Eric Gasper’s picture

By: Eric Gasper

An upcoming audit can be one of the more stressful times of the year for a quality team. Whether you are pursuing a new certification or retaining your current one, audit preparation can be a daunting challenge to even the most diligent organization. Although standards such as ISO/IEC 17025, ISO/TS 16949, and AS9100, not to mention FDA standards, differ in many ways as they relate to the measurement system, there are more similarities than differences. Here are a few key steps you can take to ensure your audit process goes smoothly, regardless of the standard.

Step 1: Inventory control

Inventory control is priority No. 1 when it comes to managing your gauges, and it can be broken down into three categories:

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