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Lean in Mail/Print Operations

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Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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  • #50699

    KKN
    Participant

    I am a MBB that has just been assigned to drive a Lean transformation of our Mail/Print operations from a job shop to ????? (still working with management to define what their vision is).  Does anyone have any experience in Mail/Print operations transformation that will be willing to share best practices?

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    #174702

    Sloan
    Participant

    Use “The Force” Luke!
    Management probably doesn’t know what their vision is they probably just know that they are “unhappy” with the current state. Find out what it is they are “unhappy” about. Is it the cost of the operation? Is it the slowness of mail delivery? The quality of the print output? Does Mail Services misdeliver a lot of mail? Is it all the above? Once you understand what management is unhappy about, you can set about helping them with their vision.
    As an MBB you should not only be an expert in the Lean/Six Sigma tools, you should also have a certain level of business acumen to help your management team craft the vision or even tell them what the vision should be.
    I think it was Boss Hogg that used to say, “Handle it, handle it!”

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    #174703

    KKN
    Participant

    To quote a famous person “Duh….” :)  I’m not really posting for advice on running the project/initiative.  I’m really looking for others that I can benchmark off of and/or learn the nuances of this particular sub-industry.  No reason to step on mines in an area when you can ask someone who has been through there before.  Especially if they are already missing a couple of toes :)

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    #174723

    Big Al
    Participant

    My experience (three companies, two continents) is that this industry has, historically, had a high degree of manual/human processes to which technology has been added without improving the processes.  As a result there is often rework, little focus on measurement and few people with a really good view of the E2E process.  In addition, getting people to discuss and agree on the appropriate balance of speed, quality and cost can be a challenge.  There is often a focus on satisfying the end customer, as this industry is based on high volume/low margin and is quite competitive, but I have found that very little work is done on polling and understanding the VOC.  It is assumed that customers want it yesterday, with bells on, at the lowest price, whereas what they really want is guaranteed turnaround times, flexibility to make last minute changes and good communication!
    So, in summary, my suggestion would be to understand the E2E and use VOC/VOB to get to the key metrics.  

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    #174729

    KKN
    Participant

    Thank you for the insight!

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    #174731

    RDogg
    Participant

    Canada Post has used Lean/Six Sigma for many years for Mail operations.  You should try to contact someone there.

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    #174739

    annon
    Participant

    Having done work with USPS and Canadian Post, I would say that your deployment challenges are no different than you would find in any large governmental bueracracy. 
    I would reccomend spending a great deal of time on Strategy Deployment (ie Hoshin Planning) prior to the LSS effort to ensure leveragability and organizational alignment.  LSS is a process-level skill set that requires a system-level framework if you are going to leverage the results effectively.  Plan for that.
    Infrastructure is everything.  Tools and techniques are easy.  Focus on establishing cascading Steering Committees for assessment/selection of project ideas and training needs – focus these efforts around the critical value streams of the key SBU / processing facility….talk the language of money first, projects later.
    You have to find a way to get the HQ thoughts implemented at the plant level….you will find HQ owns the product (eg Express Mail) but not the process (eg plant ops).  You have to fill the local / regional  project pipelines through a robust assessment and selection process which focuses on:  Can we affect change at the plant level?  Can we implement it?  Can we leverage it? Does it hit the “P&L”?….these should be your #1 questions on the A&S
    Good champions are critical…they have to be trained and really buy-in…again, determine the business needs (ie pareto out the product families and their key result areas and run through a Balanced Scorecard with leadership) and bring H&R into the discussion regarding the reward and recognition systems of the champions and area VPs…if you dont get them invested somehow, your done…insist project charters come from the champions themselves….its tough…train them well here…LSS can not overcome bad proect management which starts with:  Actionable charter, Gantt Chart (ie Work Structure Breakdown), and timeline management…..Make them do it….bad charters from uninspired / uninitiated / incompetent project champions will kill you.
    Etc, etc, etc…..the cultural change is a total pain in the ass….give them what they want right now…and what they need as soon as you can…..good luck.

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