I was in a conversation with a client recently about some of the company’s failings around project on time delivery, namely them achieving key project milestones. This turned out not to be a conversation about production or process, this was a conversation about initiation.

The real problem

Once they had gotten their production activities up and running the delivery of the next milestone would usually happen in line with the lead time stipulated on the plan. Their problem wasn’t finishing, it was all about starting critical project tasks at the right time.

Changing focus

This is a pretty common problem. We naturally focus on the on-time completion of a milestone rather than it starting on time. Of course, it all depends on what kind of mentality your business culture has. If it is inclined to start things and not finish them then focusing on the close out of activity is more appropriate. If your business’ approach is more aligned with procrastinating at the outset, then focusing on the on time start of tasks might make more sense.

on time delivery system

Creating a focus tool

My client decided to utilise their operational team meeting to identify the next critical project task’s start point for each project they were currently running. Pulled together this became their ‘departure board’. Each week they would look at the list of their next critical start dates and make sure that everything was set up for starting the task on time. On time completion of the task was still being measured, but their focus was brought forward.

Just like magic!

Earlier this year I used the same change of focus with another client. They had a material kitting stage at the start of their manufacturing process. The client’s focus was on the deliveries going out the door. Everything they had tried to that point had not improved on time delivery performance; internal on time delivery was something they didn’t discuss. We trialled this focus on the material kitting activity and ensured that main production always started on time. Like magic their final on time delivery performance increased significantly.

What about your business?

So, is there scope for you to look at how your teams move their focus to the start of key tasks / processes (rather than just their completion)?


0,The OTIF Improvement System

Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance, ERP system performance and deploy Kaizen / Lean production methods. Giles is also the author of 'What Does Good Look Like?'.