Lean success – the missing link

Process Confirmation is the missing link

Having recently supported a number of admirable Lean implementations, it has grown more in my mind the importance of Process Confirmation in order to sustain the results. Indeed, where appropriate process confirmation is missing the positive change is not sustained and as an esteemed colleague put it, “stickability” is not achieved.

A reminder of the continuous improvement cycle:

So as part of your lean implementation, you have:

1) Stabilised the process – got rid of the big waste, carried out detailed problem solving and understand the actions needed.
2) Through cycle time analysis you have balanced the tasks and/or identified the key quality issue fixes to create consistent flow.
3) Then you have raised SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) which not only tell the people what to do, but how and why, and carried out training.
4) You then move onto matching the process flow to the customer demand.
5) You then measure the results and suddenly find they are not as expected – WHY ?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a standard ? – Normally Yes, because you have created the SOP’s
  • Is the standard fit for purpose ? – Probably Yes, because it was based on a solid improvement workshop with detailed analysis and problem solving.
  • Is the standard being followed ? – Probably No, because the confirmation of the standard is not being followed as part of business as usual.

What is Process Confirmation ?

  1. Part of the Management Control system – a standardised “go and see”
  2. A regular check (daily / weekly / Monthly) that the process is being followed and to the correct standard and to act upon any deviation from the standard
  3. A means of improving – ensuring that there is a standard approach to any process ensures that there is a solid base from which to improve

What Process confirmation isn’t:

  1. It is not just an audit
  2. It is not a means of beating up the staff
  3. It is not a one-off activity


How to carry out process confirmation

  1. Go and see the process – process confirmation can only be carried out by checking the actual process and this can only be done by seeing the process being run in its normal environment.
  2. Check if there is a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) – most Lean events will normally generate SOPs – if there isn’t an SOP in place check what the process should be
  3. Follow the process through checking that the SOP is being followed
  4. Review any deviation from the process with the Staff and/or area Leader – agree actions to get back to standard
  5. Check actions have been carried out by reviewing the process again
  6. When carrying out process Confirmation, carry out one-by-one examination:
    – Safety issues
    – Quality issues
    – Productivity
    – Waste

Whenever you are on site or in the area re-check the process

Process confirmation is the “glue” of standardisation for any C² Plus Consulting process improvement activity – if you need any further help or information, please feel free to contact us.


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