Consider data from different parts of your business to identify improvement opportunities

Posted by Peter Rogers

So you've had a non-conformance reporting (NCR) or improvement database for a while now. But you suspect not all your NCRs or your improvement ideas are recorded in it.

Therefore, sometimes you need to look in the hard to reach places to find improvement ideas. Not every company can have a fully integrated system that makes finding these issues easy, so you you have to look elsewhere.

Importance of Good Data

I remember in my early compliance days, I worked for a manufacturing organisation that had two key roles, an Estimator and a Cost Accountant.  The Estimator would estimate price based on the most current costs and previous production run information. The Cost Accountant looked at the actual cost to produce the product and when the actuals fell outside a certain % or didn’t look right, then the QA Department (i.e. me) got involved to help determine why and if a process was incorrect or other factors were involved. 

However, the days of Estimators and Cost Accountants seem to be numbered. 

It appears these days companies will only do quotations for jobs but very few will look deeply into the "actual’s" around costs.

This may be because:

  • The Cost Accountants are looked at as an overhead and as long as we are making profit so what’s the purpose of having one.
  • Companies are under such pressure they don’t see the value of the Cost Accountant.

For a Compliance Professional this interface with the Finance Team is a process improvement opportunity lost. 

Therefore, I'm suggesting that you act as an Estimator or a Cost Accountant. You should become a Cost Detective.

If your organisation doesn’t have smart systems, you will need to get your detective hat on and start looking are different parts of the business to get some valuable data. Here are some of the easy places to start:

  • Look into the Quarantine Areas
  • Check out the recycling and rubbish bins for waste
  • Monitor all the credits that are issued
  • Go to the despatch areas and look for returns or product on hold
  • Ask Department Managers what is the most wasteful part of the day
  • Look at production data - inputs and outputs (this is what the Cost Accountant did)
  • Ask the sales team if their customers are happy or have issues.

Once you have collected the data, combine it together you will see the true picture  of your organisation's opportunities to get missing value and profit back.

Why this is pertinent now is that Senior Manager’s are wanting this information when situations like the current COVID-19 virus issue appear. They want to save money, improve margins or stay in business.

Good businesses are always doing it so they can weather the storm they are facing.

Tags: Integrated Management System, Compliance, Compliance Management, Integrated QHSE, non-conformances, 26 Ideas for Working from Home