If you control it well, it flows well!

Simple, concise control is now what you need. If we cannot build it into the project we have to go back to the Measure phase or even to the Define phase. Without controls, we will return to the old way of doing things and when asked about it three months later we will say, “Oh, we tried that, it just did not work!” If you did your job, in the previous stages, the controls that are needed should be readily apparent.

Control is about having a documented repeatable process that can be monitored for variation. Walk the participating parties through a mock exercise and see what takes place. If you want, for the fun of it, videotape the process. Are you ready?

My Control process basically consists of:

1. The operation is documented.

2. Process control plans are created

3. Scorecard is created

4. Problem encounter plan

You just did your walk through and created your operation plan. Just write down what you are going to accomplish and how you are going accomplish it. Pass it around and get an agreement on it, not only from the people that developed it but the people that are performing the work. Check once again if it satisfies the customers needs. After that, draw a concise process plan. This is your final checklist on how you are going to go about the implementation. If you are not satisfied, you may have to go back a step or two and make some adjustments. But do not leave holes in it or say this is good enough. Create a perfect process flow chart that allows anyone to do the job that has the required “skill set” and if they have questions they can refer to the operation plan for clarification. I look at both working hand and hand.

The scorecard is control chart that lets you input data to evaluate the process. It must be easy to do and part of the process. The data should not be labor-some to acquire or it simply will be put off in busy times. Data should be as instantaneous as possible, so that you can monitor a change downstream from the flow to see what may have caused the issues. Remember garbage in = garbage out. Hint: Your scorecard should check the consistency of the collection of data also.

The fourth step is what I call the savior step. Have a process in place or a go-to person that can react immediate to problems encountered, lack of data input, discipline, etc. This is your insurance that the process stays on track and is a success. It is not a onetime deal. If you decide one day that you cannot improve the process anymore, start working on the tools you use to create the process and refine them to dig deeper. It is a never ending quest. The result of this is that it is the only true competitive advantage that you have to stay ahead of your competition! So get there and stay there!

If you build a great control system the process will flow very well! When a process flows well you typically get great results! You can think of all the analogies to this statement but seldom can think of one that disputes it, can you?

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