Even if you've spent significant time, money and creativity on an operational process, there's no guarantee it'll work well forever. In fact, it may not even work during the next few months either. The Harvard Business Review suggests that 67% of strategies fail due to poor execution. Setting the gears and cogs of a plan in motion is just the start – you must review the results often enough.
How often? Synergos, a top-tier consulting firm, recommends that you make this a continual part of what you do. "Reviewing business processes and measuring against competitors," it says, "as well as looking for new opportunities such as technological innovation, propels your business forward." In practice, this might mean conducting an operational review every month or so. Indeed, those operations should have clear metrics to make these assessments easier.
Today, we'd like to provide a potential checklist for seeing what works or could be improved, tailored to your warehouse.
Allocating space – especially in an omnichannel warehouse environment – can't be understated for good throughput. Measure the amount of goods you're able to store and which of those are key sales or distribution items. You may want to leave more space for goods that are processed faster, closer to docks and loading bays, or tweak your ability to store certain packages (like raw food) for longer in slow seasons. Look at stacking: the maximum height you can safely store some items on top of each other.
Productivity should never come at a cost to your workforce's health and wellbeing. The wrong equipment, ineffective safety measures or stressful shifts might be taking their toll, even if they seemed like a good idea at the time. Therefore it's wise to measure safety incidents and last-minute sick days to see how your operations affect key workers. Speak to those physically or psychologically harmed. Consider what needs to change. A hyper-efficient process may not be worth the trouble if it's making people less enthused to work for you.
As much as you want to set brilliant processes off and run with them, they still require the right managers and specialists for quality control. So, how effective are those leadership channels? Incident, output and HR reports should be filled out accurately and stored correctly. Furthermore, appropriate people must take responsibility for success and failure. If they don't, you won't know whether employees really fit within your operations – able to fulfill their roles and voice their feelings.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are the written rules of what should be done when, where and by whom. New hires will depend on them for close cross-checking during their first few months or years in the business. More experienced workers can use them too, keeping up with operational evolutions. That's why SOPs should reflect anything you're introducing to the workplace. Failure to do this might result in a worker bringing up an outdated version if you're dismissing them on the grounds of a badly done job.