Even a little bit of leftovers each day can add up to something big. That’s the basic principle and motivation behind accessory planning. The whole purpose of this activity is to find ways to use what would otherwise be wasted to generate further value.

Overview: What is accessory planning?

Most companies engage in accessory planning even if they’ve never heard the term before. Essentially, it’s nothing more than a developed, intentional strategy for reusing, repurposing or redeploying resources that were already committed to a process. It’s a practice that lean manufacturers are very familiar with.

3 benefits of accessory planning

The benefits of accessory planning line up perfectly with lean management techniques since both focus on eliminating waste and non-value additions.

1. Reduce material waste

Any kind of unused input can be considered accessory, but the term usually applies to material things. No matter the industry, reducing material waste and making the most of physical resources is directly related to profitability.

2. Develop deeper procedural insight

Another major benefit of accessory planning is the insight gained along the way. Investigating how to store and use leftover input helps companies discover more about their processes, which yields valuable information they can use in later improvement cycles.

3. Improve environmental impact

Accessory planning will likely increase in importance as environmental footprint or impact grows in importance. Reducing waste and improving efficiency typically improves the environmental soundness of your business practices as well.

Why is accessory planning important to understand?

Accessory planning is meant to derive more value without investing in more materials, so there is a fine balancing act involved.

Appreciating real cost

There are several cost perspectives that you need to consider when accessory planning. This includes the cost of string and re-utilizing materials as well as the potential impact on product quality or process time. Sometimes it’s more economical not to reuse or recycle certain types of input.

Impact on personnel

There is a hidden cost that comes with accessory planning in the form of mental and physical burden placed on staff members. It’s always important to consider the real logistical impact and demands of accessory plans before implementing them.

Consider external alternatives

Accessory utilization isn’t always a purely internal mechanism. Sometimes the best way to get value out of deployed resources is liquidating it through sale or donation.

An industry example of accessory planning

A bakery produces a wide variety of bread every day and often makes more than they sell to ensure they have enough to satisfy variations in demand. After months of throwing stale bread into the dumpster, the owners decide to develop a crouton recipe that uses old, stale bread. This allows them to repurpose it into a new product that can be sold to customers for minimal additional cost.

3 best practices when thinking about accessory planning

Accessory planning wholly depends on the type of material and the nature of the process at hand, but there are some basic elements that apply in any situation.

1. Keep it simple

It’s easy to over-complicate when accessory planning, especially when you are working around an already complex process. That’s why you should always focus on simple solutions that demand little additional investment and don’t impact core operations.

2. Don’t be afraid to experiment

Trial and error is a part of the learning process, so don’t be afraid to implement new ideas into your accessory planning. Just remember to check the results over time so you can find what really works.

3. Use data-driven metrics

Just because something seems efficient or value-adding doesn’t mean it’s worth doing. Companies need to collect data whenever possible and use it to inform their decisions regarding process management.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about accessory planning

What counts as an accessory?

Accessories are usually tangible materials left over from a physical production process, but the term can describe any kind of input into a process that would otherwise be wasted.

How do you start accessory planning?

Like any other DMAIC process, you should start by defining and measuring. You need to identify what “waste” inputs are the most cost-effective to repurpose and start from there.

What’s the purpose of accessory planning?

Accessory planning has a manifold purpose of improving profitability, reducing environmental impact and developing stronger internal processes.

More than an afterthought

Even though it’s the last part of the process, accessory planning should not be an afterthought. In fact, it should be a central part of the research and development stages of process design. Finding effective ways to utilize deployed resources is a driving factor behind success and growth in business.

About the Author