A Roadmap to Apply Kaizen Principles in Achieving Desirable Data AnalyticsOutcomes
Technology has rapidly changed the way businesses collect and analyze data. Innovations such as artificial intelligence, deep machine learning, and natural language processing increase the speed and the amount of information which can be collected and analyzed for previously unattainable insights at the age of big data.
Regardless of the types of data analytics project, one of the most important foundation is determining what data to collect and how to capture it in a way that makes analysis efficient and effective. There are multiple ways this process can go awry thus needs planning:
- Collecting unnecessary data
- Not collecting required data
- Collecting data inefficiently
- Not having an integrated stream of knowledge that is accessible when needed
- Missing critical components (data, methods, or results) in the analysis that serve decision-making
Even if a company determines that they need to improve their data collection and analysis for a business competitive edge, poor execution of the project can fail to optimize possible decisions. Having a well-thought out roadmap at the beginning keeps a business from investing in a program that wastes time, money, and resources.
Kaizen Principles for Data Collection
Coming from the Japanese phrase for “continuous improvement”, kaizen is an approach to change for the better through incremental improvements. Toyota’s lean production system relies on three voices to achieve kaizen: customers, employees, and process. Technology, rightly configured and used, can support the collection and analysis of these voices, providing more information to decision makers everywhere in the company. In this context, an organization can leverage the insights provided by data, big or small, to make real-time decisions based on current data for improvements.
Kaizen requires the entire organization, from the boardroom to the mailroom, to invest in identifying improvement opportunities, suggesting solutions, then implementing and analyzing the results. Rather than seeking major overhauls to a flow or process in a single plan, it is an incremental approach to problem-solving which addresses issues as they arise. It seeks manageable solutions which can be implemented quickly.
5 Steps to Implement Kaizen Principles
1. Determine Business Goals at All Levels and Identify Shared Needs
One of the main principles of kaizen is that it involves employees at all levels. Involve all stakeholders in the planning process help to establish relevancy of data. Encourage stakeholders to communicate often with departments they regularly interface with to ensure that shared needs are met. Having a clear picture of the operational needs at all levels will ensure that the analysis will be detailed enough to make decisions not only for a single department, but cross-functionally and aggregate well across the organization.
To make long and complex analyses relatable to employees across layers, one useful tool is creating “data stories,” narratives of why and how data is collected, processed, analyzed, and results shared. Kaizen principles break things down into smaller units to analyze them in a more agile way. Starting small also allows iterative decision making, building on the story as it expands into adjacent use cases.
2. Identify KPIs for Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to Track Progress
Once stakeholders’ expectations are captured, the project team should then identify the sources, sampling, and analysis of important data to be the KPIs for particular OKRs to track progress towards the goals. Some situations may even call for brainstorming of new metrics and even new data to pursue.
Once the options are listed, prioritization can take place. Key considerations include the followings:
- will provide the most value
- are available now
- will provide highest ROI
- can be most easily quantified
- are related to areas with known issues
After determining which options can be implemented in which key areas, look out for quick wins that can create momentum and buy-in among team members and stakeholders.
3. Select Software Which Meets Business Needs
Once the business goals and relevant metrics are determined, companies need to choose the right software to maximize collection and analysis efficiency. Beyond features, scalability and integration are two important considerations.
Is the Software Scalable?
Certain software may be more affordable and meet current needs, but choosing a software which won’t grow with your company may result in additional costs and waste in the future. Migrating to a new platform later will cost you money invested, training, maintaining, and not to mention the reduced productivity as employees learn the new software. To prevent this from happening, make sure that the software can handle increased data loads, adding new data sources from additional departments, allows multiple user roles with different access privilege as required, and allows the addition of users or data points through a customizable interface.
Will the Solutions integrate Well?
Sometimes a product which combines data collection and analysis but does neither well.Ensure that each portion will be handled in a manner that meets the needs, and if multiple software options are required, make sure that they will integrate with each other.
This is likely an area where working with a consultant may yield significant benefits since a logical architecture is essential to prevent lost data or wasted time with manual processes that could have been automated.
4. Create a Framework for Analysis and Implementation
This can be the most critical step. Decisions are made from the results of the analysis, so having a framework of how this happens can be the difference between success and additional waste. Many decisions are associated with changes to be made. In this context, here are some key questions to be answered:
- Who owns the data?
- What is the most useful format to display the data?
- How frequently will the data be reviewed?
- If trends are identified, who will own the process to follow up and carry it through?
- Who will manage timelines to ensure the changes are being completed in a timely fashion?
- What are the criteria to determine if a change request is justified with enough ROI?
- How will the changes be analyzed to determine success? At what interval?
Having an established process for analysis, implementation, and review decisions will prevent items from falling through the cracks. It will also ensure that people know their responsibilities and the timelines involved.
5. Develop a Culture of Continuous Improvement
The reality of operations is that sometimes you have to get it wrong to get it right. No matter how thorough the planning process, business needs evolve. When a new program is implemented, it may become apparent that some important metrics are not being captured. A new product or industry change may also introduce new items to track. Therefore, the improvement process is certainly not a “once and for all” endeavor.
The nature of kaizen is that it allows a business to be more agile while continuously improving flows and processes as the business needs change. It’s important to instill in employees a mindset of identifying areas of improvement and empowering them to make the change. One of the most frustrating aspects of a job can be when an employee identifies some areas that need improvement, but the corporate culture makes it difficult to make changes. When the culture changes to support incremental improvements, employees can take more ownership of their work and more actively engaged.
Implementing a thorough and effective culture of continuous improvement requires sound experience and insight. Working with knowledgeable consultants can create an actionable roadmap for success while relieving your resources from having to invest valuable time learning and managing the process.
KoCreation Designs can design projects to collaborate with your team to make a stride on this journey to Kaizen.