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Prashanth Datta

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt
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    Project Program Management Senior Advisor

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  1. Prashanth Datta

    Design Risk Analysis

    Before delving into the tools used for Design Risk Analysis, let us try and break down this question further to understand, What “Design Risk Analysis” means, Understanding what “Risk” is, and Common tools used for Design Risk Analysis. What is “Design Risk Analysis”? As we are aware, we have two methodologies in Six Sigma 1. DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control --- Typically used for improving existing processes or products 2. DMADV – Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Validate/Verify – Typically used for developing or redesigning new products or processes While performing a DMAIC methodology on an existing product or service, post Analyze phase, it is quite possible that the potential solution could call for a redesign of existing product or process in order to meet the Voice of Customer or Voice of Business. In such a scenario, it is extremely important for the project team to meticulously work on the design process, as it is the expected solution and hence it needs to be made full-proof. One of the key focus areas in making the design full-proof is to anticipate the possible failures, threats or flaws of the proposed new design. In summary, we need to determine the potential risks associated with the revised design and build mitigation plans in advance, so as the product or process under the new design fulfills the VoC or VoB. Design Risk Analysis helps achieve this objective. What is Risk? Any variable that has the potential to negatively impact your (re)design of a product or service which in turn can affect your project deliverables or output. Further, these risks, if unmitigated can have subsequent impact on various parameters like company brand, revenue, legal or statutory compliance etc., depending on the final deliverable or desired response / output (Y) of the project. Common Tools used to identify Design Risks. We can categorize these tools under two buckets a. Qualitative b. Quantitative Qualitative tools for Design Risk Analysis Documentation Review – In this approach, we try to identity risk by reviewing project related documents such as risk lessons learnt from similar projects, whitepapers or articles pertaining to the scope of project etc., Information Gathering Techniques - In this approach, we use tools like Brainstorming, Delphi technique, Interviewing etc., Essentially, with the planned (re)design scope, we gather inputs on potential risks from individuals, project team, stakeholders, subject matter experts either through 1x1 discussions, group discussions or anonymous feedbacks. Simple root cause Analysis technique like “5 Whys” can also help identify risks as we try to narrow down the root causes leading to new design. Diagramming Techniques – Using tools like Cause and Effect diagram or Process flow charts help us break down the process in detail to identify potential risks. SWOT Analysis – Doing a Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat analysis of the (re)design, will help come up with associated risks of the design. Expert Judgment – Leverage expertise of Subject Matter Experts within the project team or across stakeholders to identify the risks. FMEA – Anticipating failure at each stage, its effect which in turn helps us to come up with potential mitigation plans. Quantitative tools for Design Risk Analysis Modelling Techniques – Develop models to capture Risks using critical inputs like probability of occurrence, severity levels, controls, vulnerabilities and come up with Risk Priority Numbers, Probability and impact matrix, Expected monetary value analysis etc.,
  2. With increasing demands from Customers for high Quality and Reliable Products or Service, it is posing additional challenges for the Vendors (or Service Providers) to accomplish this through more scientific approach and reliable modeling, especially at the early phase of design or planning to ensure the outcome maps to Customer requirement by the time the final deliverables are ready. Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is a tool for evaluating possible reliability issues at the early stages of process cycle where it is simpler to acquire actions to overcome these matters, thereby improving consistency through design. In this method, we recognize probable failure mode, evaluate its effect on the process or product and categorize actions to diminish the failures at early stages to ensure the final deliverables maps to the Customer requirements. With this approach we move from what is “find failure and fix-it” approach to “anticipate failure and prevent it” From a Six Sigma perspective, be it identifying critical X’s or selecting effective solution to implement for identified root causes, FMEA is the Process Map based approach which provides us with the required scientific approach In crux, FMEA uses 3 components that are applied on the identified risks i.e. it takes into account a. Severity – What will be the severity of the anticipated failure? b. Occurrence [O] – How frequently we expect this failure to occur? c. Detection [D] – Do we have the required controls to detect the failure? The combination of this three results in what is called as a Risk Priority Number [RPN]. RPN = SXOXD. Identified failures with higher RPN numbers are focused for corrective actions. Most of the times, the key controllable levers within the RPN formulae are Occurrence and Detection as Severity remains same once the issue occurs. What is FMECA and When FMECA helps? Let us look at a scenario as below · Failure item a – Severity = 8; Occurrence = 10; Detection = 2. RPN = 160 · Failure item b – Severity = 10; Occurrence = 8; Detection = 2. RPN = 160 · Failure item c – Severity = 8; Occurrence = 2; Detection = 10. RPN = 160 · Failure item d - Severity = 10; Occurrence = 2; Detection = 8. RPN = 160 In this case, the RPN is same across and it needs a further deep dive. While in this simple example, we can take a SWAG by looking at Occurrence and Detection numbers and then mapping to Severity and assign priority, in real world problems, especially on design of Scientific / Military or Space equipment’s, the values can be too close to differentiate or go with a SWAG approach. We use what is called as FMECA (Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis) methodology to handle such tricky scenarios. While FMEA is an approach that identifies all possible ways that equipment can fail, and analyzes the effect that those failures can have on the system as a whole, FMECA goes a step beyond by assessing the risk associated with each failure mode, and then prioritizing corrective action that should be taken. In FMECA, each failure mode is assigned a severity level and FMECA approach will not only identify but also investigate potential failure modes and their causes. i.e. a root cause of the reason for failure and corrective actions are evaluated for each identified failure. A key thing to note here is, for FMECA to occur, we need to first have FMEA in place. A criticality analysis on FMEA results in FMECA. FMECA is calculated in two ways. Quantitative: · Mode Criticality = Item Unreliability x Mode Ratio of Unreliability x Probability of Loss · Item Criticality = SUM of Mode Criticalities. Qualitative: · Compare failure modes using a Criticality Matrix, in a graphical form which keeps severity on the horizontal axis and occurrence on the vertical axis. FMEA vs. FMECA a. FMEA is the first step required to generate FMECA. While FMEA focuses on failures, FMECA goes a step further to analyze the root cause for each failure b. FMEA focuses on problem prevention while FMECA focuses on detection and control for each identified failure mode c. FMEA can have multiple analysis levels while FMECA is focused at each failure level i.e. each failure is treated individually. d. FMEA has no criticality analysis while FMECA looks at criticality of the potential failure and the areas of the design that need the most attention. e. FMEA is focused on product design and process. It genrates new ideas for improvements in like designs or processes. FMECA Identifies system and its operator safety concerns. Provide new ideas for system and machinery improvements. f. FMEA is fairly less time consuming activity compared to FMECA. FMECA is more time consuming. g. FMEA requires knowledge about process, product, service and customer requirements. FMECA goes a step ahead to have additional inputs around system, machinery etc., as each failure root cause needs to be evaluated i.e. FMECA is more knowledge based activity. Finally, Choosing FMECA over FMEA purely depends on the company deliverables. If the design involves delivery of critical product or service pertaining to Space, Medical or Military designs where we need to get into criticality evaluation of each potential failure, we need to go for FMECA. Please take note time should be at your side as these evaluations are time consuming. FMEA can be a good starting point and usage of FMECA needs to be evaluated basis business case.
  3. Prashanth Datta

    Point of Use Inventory

    Point of use inventory management system as opposed to the traditional accounting based inventory system is all about providing just the quantity of product (which includes information or service) you need more importantly where you need and when you need. In summary, provided just in time. How Point of Use inventory management contributes to reducing Lean wastes? a. Reduces the time spent on traveling of materials or to and fro flow of information. A robust point of use inventory management system plans for its materials or information to be stored at right place and hence reduce the transmission or transportation time. b. A well planned point of use inventory management system reduces inventory tracking errors. In other words it keeps it simple to focus on what is required by when and plans for it. c. With this methodology, owing to present the right materials or information at right time, an important factor of shelf life comes into play. With a tagged expiry or material or information turning to non useful, a greater focus of material analytics comes into play in this model. d. With providing right information, product or service at right time there are minimal non value addition steps probably waste that your process should be focusing on. e. Since you plan to supply your material or information just adequate to the process, chances of overproduction is removed With most of about points in place, point of use inventory management system helps drive a stream lined process which results in removing extra processes and non value added stuff which in turn keeps your process lean.
  4. Prashanth Datta

    EFQM Model

    Continual Improvement remains to be the key DNA for any organization to remain competitive in the business and deliver value to their customers. Different organizations use different methodologies, approaches and tools for deploying such continual improvement programs for adhering to their quality improvement commitments. These programs are generally addressed by different names i.e. it can be called as Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, Business Process Improvement, Business Process Re-engineering, Operational Excellence or Business Excellence. EFQM is one such business excellence model. This tool helps organization to measure where they stand today on the path of excellence, understand the gaps and promoting solutions. This model also helps to ensure that business decisions incorporate the needs of all stakeholders and are aligned with the organization’s objectives. EFQM consists of 3 components a. 8 Core Values - Key Management Principles for achieving sustainable excellence in any organization b. 9 Criteria – Framework to help Organizations to convert Values into Practice. c. RADAR – Tool to drive continuous improvement a. The 8 Core Values of EFQM 1. Adding value for customers 2. Creating a sustainable future 3. Developing organizational capability 4. Harnessing creativity and innovation 5. Leading with vision, inspiration and integrity 6. Managing with agility 7. Succeeding through the talent of people 8. Sustaining outstanding results b. The 9 Criteria – 5 Enablers and 4 Results · Enablers – Leadership, People, Strategy, Partnerships & Resources and Processes – Products – Services · Results – People, Customer, Society and Business Results. The Criteria allows people to understand the cause and effect relationships between what their organization does and the results it achieves. c. RADAR RADAR stands for Results, Approaches, Deploy, Assess & Refine Results – Define the goal aimed as part of the organization strategy Approaches – Plan and develop a set of approaches to deliver the required results now and in the future Deploy – Implement the approaches in a systematic way Assess & Refine – Monitor the deployed approaches and analyze the results achieved and ongoing learning Let’s see how RADAR maps to DMAIC Results should be equivalent to Define phase where you identify and set goals for improvement Approaches should be equivalent to Measure and Analyze phase where you plan and develop a set of approaches to achieve the set goal Deploy should be equivalent to Improve phase where you implement the developed approaches Assess & Refine should be equivalent to Control phase where we monitor the deployed solution and see its impact on the results. Before we conclude this topic, we need to understand the limitation of EFQM. This is a long-term strategic tool and cannot be used as a tool for day-to-day business as the positive effects of this model is seen in long term. This is a complex model and needs to be introduced properly with strong support and commitment of top-management This is where it is extremely important for organizations to understand which tool to implement for its organizations quality improvement strategy.
  5. Prashanth Datta

    Excellence in Results

    Y=F(X) represents a Data Driven Approach to summarize our business problem statement. It shows Causes (X) which has an impact on Effect (Y). Further, the SIPOC diagram helps us with a more detailed process map which helps us, to start at least with establishing a relationship between X and Y. Schematically representing the same as Inputs (X) ---> Process --> Output (Y) By following a DMAIC methodology, we look at improving our Output (Y) by generally addressing those X’s which can be influenced along with working on any process correction opportunities. In summary, an effective output is driven through driving changes both in inputs as well as the process followed. We have an interesting question which leads us to explore the fact if only one lever i.e. either Input or Process can be focused to drive an improvement in output Y. To summarize the two conditions from our question is as below. A. Focus heavily on X (inputs) while keeping your Process at a below average level. B. Focus heavily on your Process while keeping your X (inputs) at below average level. In both the cases, we need to understand that the either Input (X) or Process still plays a role but not leading to any significant changes to Y. A. For Scenario A, focus on X while Process has minimal impact to the Output The example I can think through here is that of the McDonalds French Fries. The desired Output (Y) here is, at their store, deliver tasty French Fries to customer within a committed time. In order to match to the conditions, key controllable X is Potatoes here. Enough investment is made by the team to ensure that the Input X is controlled from the farming stage itself i.e. grow potatoes under set condition of size, quality, quantity etc., cut to proportion, which then gets processed using the defined ingredients, partially fried, frozen, packed and sent to their Stores. At store, the only process is just to fry and serve to their customer. The Input is controlled so well right from the source that it helps deliver the required delight factor to the customer at the store. Off late, most of the Ready to Eat food products available in the market are focusing on a better customer experience to provide a tasty product which can be prepared in less time and effort from a customer stand point. They are able to achieve this by controlling their inputs at source so as for the customer the process of preparing is as simple as putting it in a micro oven and heat or dip in boiling water for couple of minutes before it is ready to be served. B. For Scenario B, Focus on the Process while the input has minimal impact on the Output The example that I can pick for this scenario is from my kitchen – The water purifier. The desired Output (Y) here is to drink a safe, healthy, tasty and potable water immediately when required. The input (X), Water once again can be from any source i.e. Bore Well, Storage Tank, Direct Municipal Water Supply and others. My desired output is driven through my Water Purifier which has a set of processes designed within it and helps me achieve my objective. The stages of filtration and purification is methodically designed, so as the input water goes through the systematic process of each stage of purification and helps me with my desired output. In this case, the water cleaning process plays a significant role to help achieve my output Y. In the context of this discussion, here is a call-out. In my first example of Scenario A, the Y is decided basis my customer requirement and hence we say only Xs are controlled. But if you look at the process of preparing the French Fries alone, it has his own checks and balances and need to have a balanced approach between both X and Process. As last words, basis my observation and understanding, controlling of only X or only the Process is a relative discussion as it depends purely on the Y which we identify to drive.
  6. Prashanth Datta


    As the topic suggests, Y=f(X) forms a very important part of DMAIC Project. Before delving into the actual question on the tools required to identify Xs, a quick recap on "What Y=f(X) represents?" can help set the context to answer the question better. Y=f(X) represents a more Data Driven Approach to summarize our business problem statement. The Y here is the Output and X is the Input which drives the Y. There can be more than One X which drives the Output Y. In other words, we can represent the same as -- Y=f(X1,X2,X3....,Xn) Apart from being identified as Output, Y is also referred to as Dependent Variable, Effect, Symptom, Monitor or Response. Likewise, apart from being identified as Input, X is also referred to as Independent Variable, Cause, Problem, Control and Factor. Simply putting together, During the Define Phase, based on Voice of Customer [VOC] OR Voice of Business [VOB] OR Cost of Poor Quality [COPQ], we will identify the Critical To Quality [CTQ] metric, Y, which needs improvement. During the Measure Phase we finalize the Y which we need to improve for the Business problem and also work on Standards and Measurement System for Y and have a Baseline Performance OR Current/As-IS performance documented against which an improvement will be tracked. Improvement here refers to either Shift in Mean (upwards of downwards based on the KPI tracked e.g. Reduction in Average handling time implies shifting the Mean down from Current Mean & Improve Occupancy % refers to shifting the Mean up from Current Mean) Reduce the Variation in process i.e. Within the control limits From the above prelude, we now have understood that the Output Y or Effect can have multiple Inputs X or Causes to drive. The 3rd Phase of DMAIC which is Analyze will help us identify all Xs impacting Y and further helps narrow down Critical Xs which when controlled will help bring the desired improvement in the Output Y. A simple example to illustrate, Y [Over Weight] = f((X1 [Calories of food consumed], X2 [Sleep duration], X3 [Duration of Inactivity], X4 [Genetic Variations])) The tools that help list all possible Xs can be categorized under 3 sections 1.Qualitative Analysis -- Brainstorming and Structured Brainstorming Affinity Diagram >> Fishbone Diagram 2. Process Map Based Analysis -- Value Add and Non-Value Add Analysis Detailed Process Mapping Failure Mode and Effects Analysis [FMEA] by using Risk Prioritization Number concept. 3. Graphical Analysis Historical input data trends can be analyzed by using Box Plots, Histogram, Scatter Diagram For Identifying Critical Xs, 1. We use Pareto along with other Graphical tools like Box Plots, Histogram and Scatter Diagram under Graphical Analysis 2. Value Add and Non-Value Data, Detailed Process Mapping and FMEA under Process Map Based Analysis 3. A more Statistical based approach using Hypothesis Testing The purpose of identifying Critical Controllable Xs having an impact on Y is to help fix the problem at source itself.
  7. Hi Team, I am looking for any Facility Management Balanced Score Card template i.e. which includes KPI's associated with Customer, Finance, Internal Business KPI and Knowledge/Education and Growth which can be reviewed to identify the CTQ for improvement. Request help with any template that shows how Facility Management KPI's are tracked.
  8. The latest buzz word I get to hear is "Product Manager" which talks about end to end life cycle of a Product, be it Virtual or Physical Product. There are also certifications around same. My question is on how Six Sigma can play a role w.r.t Product Manager? Also, are there any overlaps between DMADV and Product Manager concepts. Does BenchmarkSixSigma plan to introduce any Product Manager training and certifications? Look forward for guidance and inputs.
  9. Prashanth Datta


    SWAG references to a rough estimate made by experts in their field, based on experience and intuition. The decisions are driven by a combination of factors including a. Past Experience b. General Impressions and Assumptions & c. Approximate calculations It can be simply summarized as an "educated guess" and are best made by consensus within a group of experts.With a group of experts working on a problem, it often results in decisions driven by the factors mentioned above despite any incomplete information around the business problem. Theoretically any decision made with 25-50% information can fall under SWAG category. SWAG can act as a good starting point to provide any estimate, presumably in a shorter time period and at low cost, if applicable. Example 1 - if I as a customer ask a building contractor on the estimated cost and time to construct a 1 BHK House, he can provide the information during the course of our conversation basis his experience, certain assumptions and approximate calculations on a ball park cost figure and timeline estimation. This in-turn can help me as a customer to plan ahead with a certain hedge in cost and timelines before we make any agreement on construction commitments. Example 2 - W.R.T Services or IT industry, estimated time to deploy a pre-existing software for Dept. B which has already been implemented in Dept. A Example 3 - W.R.T Services or IT industry, estimated FTE required to complete a task based on projected workload In above examples, with a group of experts, basis their expertise, SWAG approach can help to build a straw-man to plan their work ahead Limitations of SWAG - While SWAG can help set certain basic directions, we need to be extremely careful on limiting its use on few scenarios.. a. If your business problem statement has high risk involved, better to have an exhaustive search, proof, or rigorous calculation to provide the required levers for decision making. e.g. Designing of any life safety devices in an automobile cannot work on guesstimates but rather it has to be addressed in a more scientific and full proof method despite we have a set of experts working on it. b. If your business case is not pressed for time and calls for a proper planning, SWAG is not your tool. e.g. If you need to plan and present your annual budget for 2020, you need to take a more methodical, systematic and comprehensive approach to present the same rather than going with a guesstimate story.
  10. Prashanth Datta

    Time Series Analysis

    Time Series is a sequence of well defined data points recorded at specific time intervals over a period of time. In Time Series Analysis, while the size of time interval can vary, the interval itself is fixed. For example, if you decide to measure the temperature of a room, you can decide to measure the temperature on an hourly, 12 hours once or daily basis. Once you decide on decide on the frequency (say daily once), you need to follow the pattern of recording temperature on a daily basis over a period of time to arrive at Time Series Analysis. In Time Series Analysis, you analyze historical data points to predict the future. As the name suggests, time is a critical dependency in this analysis. There are 4 key components of Time Series Analysis 1. Trend - which essentially indicates increase or decrease in the series over a period of time over a long period of time 2. Seasonality- short time variation occuring Diego seasonlitt 3. Cyclicity - medium term variation caused by circumstances which repeat in irregular intervals 4. Irregularity - variation due to unpredictable factors which generally are non repetitive. Advantages of Time Series Analysis It can help in trend analysis, forecasting, intervention Analysis i.e. any changes by introducing some variants and study dependency between two time series data. Limitations of Time Series Analysis. We cannot use Time Series Analysis when, A. Output values remain constant over a period of time. B. When output follows a certain pattern like Sinewave.
  11. Prashanth Datta

    Training Feedback

    "I attended the LEAN SIX SIGMA GREEN BELT training in Bangalore between 10 January to 13 January and it was a good interactive learning session. Special mention and Thanks to our trainer to keep these sessions lively and keep us engaged through out by mixing up lot of real-life examples. Even challenging concepts were explained in a systematic way. I like his writing style of teaching which leaves us with more long lasting memories of the concepts. Look forward for more support with some real time project guidance from our trainer and team." - Prashanth Datta
  12. Prashanth Datta

    Nominal Conditions

    As we understand, the key objective of LEAN process is to eliminate "waste" or "non-value added" activities within a process. In order to achieve this, we need to clearly differentiate between what is value add vs. non-value add OR required vs. not required OR normal vs. abnormal. The process of defining what is normal or in other words defining standards or specification limits for the process is called as Nominal conditions. In order to define nominal conditions we basically need two things 1. Set the acceptance limits and 2. Able to measure these acceptance limits. As we are referring to a LEAN process, it is quite possible that we have to set these conditions across all drivers for the process i.e Material, Method, Machine, Man and Measure. The possible challenges of a Nominal condition is that it has to be frequently evaluated at every stage across drivers to ensure nominal conditions are met. While it is fair to assume that, such a condition could possibly be tried in a manufacturing set-up, for other industries and administrative processes it is difficult to implement. An example I can think through is, for a Judiciary system, it is difficult to set target for the number of trials before you acquit or convict a suspected trial. While this is an important concept, it's something not used more frequently or directly.
  13. Prashanth Datta

    Stable vs Capable Process

    Enumerated below are few pointers which I potentially think can lead to a situation where a capable and stable process can suddenly render incapable 1. Absence of a Robust Control Management System Post Analyze and Improve phase, the solutions implemented needs to have a robust Control Management System The deployed solutions needs to be monitored for its effectiveness and also project owner needs to see if there is any change in business environment that can potentially drive a change in input variables which in-turn can impact the focused out put metric. Further, given today's dynamic business environment, failure in updation and hand over of actions to appropriate owners will result in rendering the process incapable. Also, the mindset of driving actions can move from Process Dependency to People Dependency which can weaken a stable process 2. Compromised Quality Management Process A Stable and Capable process with a defined Quality Management process, if not reviewed in the event of any increased demand scenario can potentially lead to systematic failure of a stable and capable process. With increased demand from client, there could be a potential rush to complete the job (say production) within stipulated timelines. If there is a compromise in Quality Management System, we could land up delivering poor quality products rending the process incapable. Manufacturing and PC industry has seen several recalls of their vehicles, batteries, motherboards etc., possibly due to aforementioned reasons 3. Shifting Business Priorities - Siloed Views by Management Is your balancing metric now deemed critical to take over as primary metric? Lets take an example where we have worked a process improvement project using DMAIC method to reduce the "Cost of Dissatisfaction" which has resulted in significant cost savings while your Customer Experience metric is kept under control. The Management is now under pressure with the revised Customer Experience goals. There could be some systematic compromises done on few of your action plans on cost savings project (which could still be under specified limits) which gradually can take the focus out as it could be the same set of contact center agents who need to drive both the actions. A conflicting and Siloed approach could render your cost saving project incapable. 4. Special Cases like Mergers & Acquisitions. A M&A situation can result in People Motivational Issues, Organization Culture differences, Business priorities etc., which in turn can result in impacting an existing stable / capable process. An Interesting Read through https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Columbia_disaster - Enclosed herewith is a Wikipedia artilce which I found during my internet reading. A direct excerpt of key call out "... where Bipod ramp insulation had been observed falling off, in whole or in part, on four previous flights: STS-7 (1983), STS-32 (1990), STS-50 (1992) and most recently STS-112 (just two launches before STS-107). All affected shuttle missions completed successfully. NASA management came to refer to this phenomenon as "foam shedding". As with the O-ring erosion problems that ultimately doomed the Space Shuttle Challenger, NASA management became accustomed to these phenomena when no serious consequences resulted from these earlier episodes...." What was successful in previous four launches with the same issue, proved fatal for Shuttle Columbia which resulted in its failure.
  14. Prashanth Datta


    In today's competitive business environment, Productivity is one of the key differentiator on how you position yourself versus your competition. In simple terms, Productivity is doing "MORE" with "LESS" i.e. minimum inputs and maximum outputs. A well devised Productivity Management Principles, irrespective of industries, will not only ensure organization's profitability but also can be translated to benefit their customers by providing a more competitive and aggressive pricing against your competition. How to do more with less? ... And the guiding principle is "Shojinka" - Japanese term which has its origin to Toyota's lean manufacturing principles. Shojinka Explained - Having its origin from a manufacturing industry, Shojinka is a form of flexible manufacturing where the number of workers varies to match demand requirements. Simply stating - "Flexible Staffing" to map to your demand requirements. An example that I could relate to is outlined as below - Hypothetical Background - - Company ABC - An Outsourcing company which has its expertise to handle Customer Care business for its clients. - Client XYZ – XYZ is a Computer Manufacturing Company and has their presence spread across multiple geographies i.e. US, EMEA and Asia Pacific operations. Vendor ABC Company has signed up an agreement with Client XYZ to take care of Customer Care business for their client across all geographies. Scope of Work – Providing support for “EMAIL Queries” only i.e. end customer complaints of client XYZ will be handled by Company ABC. Billing – Client pays vendor basis per email / query based transaction Other Parameters - - Customer Relation Management [CRM] tool and Email Management System is same across all the regions - Nature of queries are same across all the regions i.e. Where is my Order?, I want to Return and get an Exchange on my Product, I want a Refunds, My Order has a Missing part etc. - Policies and Procedures and Cross functional stake holders vary and are region specific. To start off, basis the volumes of queries expected for each region, a head count assessment was made and separate teams were set up to support each geography. Agents were trained on all tools, processes, policies and procedures for their respective regions. An interesting Operational Challenge Post operations kicked off, Company ABC was posed with a unique challenge. The Volumes for APJ seemed to be far too high from January to June followed by EMEA from August to November and with US taking its Peak during its Thanks Giving and Christmas. While the driving factor for the volumes were driven by numerous backend reasons like Local Government regulations, End of Year transactions, Black Friday Sales etc., there seemed to be a spike in head count request for each of these regions during their peak period. Challenges: - Incremental Head Count Cost which can impact ABC profitability. Cannot be billed back to client owing to SOW - Hiring, Training and Ramp costs. - Challenges to have additional resources ready to map to peak seasons. - Non utilization of resources post peak periods Shojinka Comes to Play Company ABC, used the Lean Management Principles to address the issue and Shojinka [Flexible Staffing] was here to address their issue. To put it simply, the peak seasons for each geography was not overlapping and what the company had to plan was how to cross utilize the resources across geographies so as any incremental head count requirement could be minimized. What was required from ABC to achieve this? - A very strong MIS to Mangement team which provides forecast for each region by month / week etc., This enables to plan for head count for each region mapping to their peak seasons and see from where the demand could be met. o e.g. US region has its low season from Feb onwards and the considerable portion of their head count can be used to support APJ. - Identification of motivated workforce from current teams who have the ability to learn and get trained on cross functional processes - Cross training on Processes, Policies and Procedures so as agents are familiar with other region practices - A strong “Knowledge Base” or “Play books” that cross trained agents can refer during their support to other regions. The Play book should be designed, updated and support to cover policies, procedures, localized tools, escalation points etc., which the agents can simply refer to address queries from other regions. - Standardized Tools, CRM systems across regions (same in this case and if different, has to be cross trained and the Play book should be updated to support the learning’s) - An upfront cost to be budgeted as part of their overall finances which should include cost of training the agents, internal automation tools (as applicable) which can act as Play Books to enable “Self-Help” for agents and agent motivational cost as relevant. A systematic implementation of Shojinka principle should enable company ABC to drive its productivity focus of doing more (i.e. handling more demand across regions) with less (existing cross trained agents) and any incremental head count requirements hired should act as business enablers than remaining as unutilized resources. From an employee perspective, it should act as career progression options owing to enhanced skill sets. To Summarize Shojinka refers to "Flexible staffing" to map to your demand requirements. As an organization, you should look at following criteria if this Lean Principle is suitable or can be pursued a. A clear understanding of demand forecast which should help to know when and where to staff. b. Ability to cross-train your work force so as they can move in and work as demand fluctuates c. Standard tools and Standardized Processes. d. Clearly documented “Play books” which should cover all aspects of the process to enable Self-Help of work force