By Phil Larson, president of Shepherd Consulting OK and author of “Manage Well: Eclectic Tips on Excellence."
Best practices for one shop may not be best practices for another. Some of the most outstanding competency and process standards organizations eliminated the term “best practices” and adapted to “good practices”. Realize that a best practice may not fit all similar circumstances. Start with reality check to find your own best practice. Look for a good practice. A good practice is one that seems to fit most similar shops; however, needs to be customized to your industry, your products and services, your customers, and your strengths. Take a good practice and make it best by fitting it to your mission.
Be relentless in pursuit of best practices in your shop. Be patient to implement only what works for you. Attempting ideas that work in other shops without a clear end in mind can backfire.
Mission: To dig for a best practice for your shop begin with the end in mind. Develop a clear mission statement that focuses on what you do best, where you want to go, and expresses a customer centric stance. That mission will lead you to best practice. If it does not lead to your mission, it is not a best practice for you. The mission component of being the service provider of first choice for their target customer caused one shop to rethink what looked like a best practice.
The shop was diligent to train customers in all the perfect techniques to develop perfectly ready files. Somewhere in the process, the shop manager came to a great realization. The customers resented his best practice of super ready files. They wanted freedom. They wanted the shop to handle simple items without contact. They were sourcing out work to providers, who would take less than the best source files. The customer definition of seamless was, “You fix it.” The manager definition of seamless was, “There is nothing to fix.” Best practice shifted to no more than 20% of files need fixed and most of that done invisible to the customer. Best practice had to be negotiated and experienced and accepted by shop and customer to be valid. The work started flowing back.
Daily Drudge: A great place to develop a best practice is in daily process. That doesn’t sound so shiny. A best practice may not look beautiful. It will get you to your goal. It will shatter prior productivity standards. A product line you have serviced for years could use some tuning and cost reduction. Lean it. Take out the wasted steps.
Working with a shop, a certain routine was taking hours to rip on his digital engine. Customer files were unpredictable. Multiple types of files were being connected to form a whole. The rip engine was dragging and increasing costs astronomically while presses had no work. The end product, a newsletter, was valuable to the customer, but only if delivered each week on time at multiple sites. Best practice would be a quick and efficient turnaround that was simple for the customer and his production workflow. Someone might say best practice would be requiring the customer to submit against a hard standard of file requirement. In his case, the flexibility to receive multiple types and merge and print quickly would be a good practice the customer would love.
His best practice would be to have a regular file submitted and need no rework or resubmission. To get to that goal, research revealed a rip engine setting that could be adjusted and process sped up without major reworks. Good practice flexibility becomes best practice super streaming.
Customer Concern: Good practice is taking care of a customer concern in a timely manner. Best practice is doing it in such a manner that the customer disconnects from the fact there was a problem and only thinks of the exceptional service they receive. Customer centric practices will always turn out best for you and your shop and lead you to exceptional service reputation and extended sales opportunities.
Summary: Look for a good practice you can adapt to best for your mission and your customer. Over the next few months, I am interviewing shops across the nation to hear your stories of best practice and pass them on to others. Let’s see how we can help each other and boost the industry through digging through the diamond mines of creative adaptation and integration of new ideas.
Go Ahead and Grow. THRIVE!
This article focuses on Be Focused side of the operational pyramid.