Wednesday, July 23, 2008

5 Ways to Reduce Administrative Costs in Your Printing Company With Lean Principles

Lean is a business operating philosophy designed to eliminate administrative wastes, increase efficiencies, reduce overhead costs, improve workflow, and enhance the ability to meet customer demands. Its objective is to reduce administrative costs which account for 32% of a printing company’s value added. Administrative costs include sales, estimating, customer services, order entry, purchasing, invoicing, accounting, and other activities that support production. Printing organizations have experienced up to a 30% reduction in administrative costs by implementing Lean Office principles.

1) Eliminate Unnecessary Documents
Stop producing copies of job tickets and reports that may not be needed or even read. Time and costs are wasted printing, photocopying, distributing, and storing these reports. This Lean office waste is known as “Overproduction”. Most MIS systems enable users to access these reports and information on their screen as needed. Take a hard look at your reports, meet with your employees to determine what’s really required, and educate employees on how to query the information on screen when they need it.

2) Improve Administrative Processes
Put a team together to define the steps required to get jobs through your administrative processes and document them using Post-It Notes or flowchart software such as Microsoft Visio. Then count the number of steps involved; identify the non-value-added activities, wastes, and redundant steps; and design a more efficient “Lean” workflow. This Lean principle is known as “Process Mapping” or “Value Stream Mapping”.

3) Design a Lean Office Layout
A poorly designed office layout will create wasted time and costs as salespeople, estimators, customer service reps, and other office employees move estimates requests, quotes, and orders between departments and desks. This often creates interruptions to others. This Lean office waste is known as “Motion” or “Transport”. Redesign your office layout to follow your workflow so there is less movement and shorter distances between handoffs in your administrative processes.

4) Implement 6S
Straighten and organize your office by implementing 6S.
1. Safety - Always put safety first
2. Sort - What is needed right now and what is not
3. Set-In-Order - Remove items from office areas that are not used
4. Shine - Designate a location for everything and label
5. Standardize – Standard how everyone does things
6. Sustain – Continually reinforce 6S

6S in the office can include organizing job files, folders, file cabinets, proofs, die lines, samples, an individual’s desk, and sales brochures. Implementing 6S will eliminate wasted time and costs by making it easier to find things, improving workflow, and impressing your customers.

5) Utilize Your Employees
Take a close look at the skill set and workloads of your administrative staff. Make sure employees are in the position that is best leveraging their capabilities. Are you over staffed in some areas? Is there a poor distribution of work? You may have some people that are overloaded with work while others do not have enough to keep them busy. This Lean office waste is known as “Underutilized People”. Also, it’s important to involve all employees in your lean initiative and value their input. Those who do the work best know where improvements can be made.