“If it can’t be measured, it can’t be improved.”
Printing company leaders have certainly heard this phrase or a variant of it, but how many of us put it in practice? Our industry provides us with great financial data every year with the PIA Ratio Studies, and we can get industry benchmarks for sales growth, factory costs, profit per employee, payroll and benefits, etc., but what about benchmarking and measuring the performance of our operations?
Industry standards for operations performance may be hard to develop, but each company needs to create its own Key Performance Indicators to review those operations that are important to its business. These KPI’s must be established via a planning process and then they need to be measured on a regular basis, providing a dashboard for your key managers.
What you measure should be driven by your customers’ requirements and satisfaction. Some of these operational KPI’s that you may want to quantify and then determine the causes are:
- Late deliveries of proofs and jobs
- Bad or rejected proofs
- Bad or rejected plates
- Excessive makereadies
- Excessive material waste
- Jobs reprinted due to poor quality
You may have other operation activities that you want to measure, and that’s the point. What you measure should come out of a planning process involving team members who identify problems or areas for improvement in your company. To be most effective, put a dollar cost on the problem, and that will attract even more attention to the process.
Step one is identifying the activities to be measured and improved. Step two is determining how to measure them on a regular basis. Step three is analyzing the results and finding ways to improve the operation. And step four is continuing to measure to determine that your solution works. All of this should be done with a task force of associates from across the company which is responsible for identifying and improving your company’s operations.
You’ll get an automatic improvement when your associates understand that their work is being monitored. And by identifying your inefficient operations and improving their performance, you will see those financial ratios improve. A little measurement can go a long way.