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What is process observation and what is the best way to implement it

For those of you who do not know what process observation is lets begin by telling you what it is and how it is used. Process observation is basically pretty self explanatory, it means it is the observation of the various work process that your company has. Process observation is a data collection method that is used in Lean and Six Sigma methods of manufacturing and it is a great way to confirm exactly what is happening during any particular process. One thing that you need to be aware of when it comes to process observation and actually implementing it is that the biggest time consumer in the study is actually collecting the data. So if you are going to want to use process observation you want to make sure that you take the time that is needed to collect the data, but if the process is going to require a lot of time and work you can actually measure a sample first.

Here are some things that you are going to want to take note of when you are actually doing process observations.

Number one:
The first thing that you are going to want to look for or look at is work in process. Basically what work in process is would be the amount of work that has been started or it has entered the process but the rest of the work has not yet been finished on it. Basically work in process would be any unfinished products you have in inventory, they can be 95% done but they are still considered a work in process.

Number two:
The next thing that you are going to want to take a look at is the average completion rate. When looking at the average completion rate what you are looking at is the number of work items that are being completed during a certain time period. What this means is if you are manufacturing products what you are looking for are how many products are completed for the certain process for a certain period of time, whether it is one day or two hours, etc.

Number three:

You are also going to want to take a look at demand variation, which is the amount of fluctuation in the demand for the output of the process.

Number four:
You are also going to want to take a look at first pass yield, which is the percentage of work in process that makes it all the way through the manufacturing process the first time around. What this means is that the item never has to be sent back to get fixed or redone in any way. What this is going to tell you is how well the process is functioning.

Number five:
You should also take a moment to look at approvals before work can be completed or handoffs back and forth between groups or people. If the numbers in these areas are high then you need to realize that what this means is that the process is running slower than necessary.

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that the above mentioned items are only some of the things that you should look for when doing process observation. But you also need to know that these items are going to be used to measure the projects and they will give you back results that will help you figure out what you need to do to make any kind of improvements at your company. The good thing about process observation is that it is actually a relatively easy process to implement because it mainly consists of visual observing the work processes. But one thing that you want to do when implementing process observation is to bring in the observer from a neutral area of the company, what you don't want to do is have somebody who works in that department on a day to day basis observe that department because they won't be as impartial as strangers.

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