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9 Steps to Developing a Daily Management System (+Video +MP3)

Running an effective operation takes a daily management system. To get one up and running, Lean leaders have to:

  1. Identify the demand. This means tracking data for a while to see what your customers are asking you to do. (Hint: Pivot tables are your friend!)
  2. Understand your takt time. Production in the office won’t be as rhythmic as it is on the shop floor, but there is still a pace that the team needs to meet.
  3. Understand your processes. Daily management works best with highly standardized processes. But if you have a lot of variation, you can still put a daily management system in place. It is just a lot harder to identify abnormal conditions. Over time, though, daily management helps improve the processes and squeeze out variation. The key here is to get a good estimate as to how long, on average, processes take to complete, and use longer windows for less consistent processes. (It’s a math thing—the central limit theorem says that variation flattens out if you look at data in buckets.)
  4. Develop a production board. This is a visual management tool that becomes the centerpiece of a daily management system. It shows the progress of the team, and compares it to a plan. It also provides a place to record what kept the team from hitting its targets. (By the way, we recently posted a 5S and Visual Management Training package for sale on our site.)
  5. Develop daily management processes. It takes a little leader Standard Work to make a daily management system effective. Establish a routine for when the board is updated, where problems are logged, and how decisions are made when the team falls behind or has overcapacity.
  6. Do daily stand-up meetings. Gather the team around the production board to start the day. People hate meetings, but they love knowing what is going on and having a say in decisions. Keep the meetings short.
  7. Develop a response plan. Having a daily management system implies that leaders have actions they can take. They need to have the flexibility to adjust staffing when the situation warrants. Think cross-training, job rotation, and shared resources. The transitions should be very quick.
  8. Monitor problems. Track abnormal conditions to have data for improvement efforts, and keep an action plan up to date on what the organization is doing to fix the problems.
  9. Monitor performance. Track KPIs (key performance indicators) to keep a group on track. Use countermeasures to close the gaps. (Get a KPI bowler here and a countermeasure template here.)

Of course, making a nine step list can give the impression that a daily management system is an easy thing to create. Unfortunately, each of these steps takes a lot of hard work to get right. Add in the fact that people are uncomfortable with airing their dirty laundry out in the open, and that a daily management system takes an incredible amount of industrial discipline from both teams and leaders, and you can understand why daily management is so hard to do well.

So the question for today is what techniques have you used to make a transition to a daily management system go more smoothly?


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