Buffer Management is a process to manage the jobs that are becoming ‘at risk’ and deal with them before they cause damage to the business.
Taking advantage of the increased visibility of the previous phases, Phase 8 can be summed up as identifying and developing the right behaviours across the business to avoid excess risk.
These behaviours support both long term and short term increases in productivity. For example:
- Managers make more effective and consistent decisions more quickly
- Staff act more autonomously whilst also reacting more consistently and appropriately to queues by the system
- Process and systems improvements are suggested, assessed, and implemented often
Good visibility is necessary but not sufficient to cause a big change in business productivity. In this phase, visibility is used to enable better decisions and behaviours rather than punish failures or assign blame.
A process is put in place to systematically handle escalations. Priorities are considered from a business-wide perspective rather than an individual perspective. This reduces the chance of people winging it or fighting to have their issue resolved ahead of others. It allows issues to be dealt with in a calm and efficient manner, reducing business risk and wasting as little time as possible. Focus is on the right jobs at the right time.
Buffer Management protects the constraint by ensuring it works consistently and productively. Risks to the constraint being held up are made visible and teams can respond proactively.
Capacity overloads are also handled more effectively. Rather than just pushing more work into the system and telling people to work faster, there is a clear process in place to smooth the wave of work and protect due date delivery.
Resourcing and holidays become easier to plan in advance. This makes it possible to predict potential resourcing problems ahead of time and prepare appropriately.
The ‘set and forget’ process mentality doesn’t exist in a Phase 8 business. The system is constantly evolving. Recurring risks or problems are logged and the root causes are determined and resolved. Staff start to take ownership and provide insights and adjustments to speed up the flow. Re-tuning experiments are conducted to measure the effect of new initiatives with successful ones being adopted as the new way to do things. Buffer management usually detects trend changes much faster than other forms of traditional reporting.
EXAMPLES OF PHASE EIGHT
Below are some examples of how this phase is supported by the CargoWise One software system and associated process changes.
- Visual Control Boards provide high visibility to all staff
- Acceptability bands and tags provide insightful information about system status
- Buffer completion profiles
- Buffer correction meetings
- Buffer logging and investigations
- Increased productivity/output
- Smoother flow of work
- Early detection of flow problems
- Consistently improving business
- More empowered and autonomous staff
- Trend change detection