Right-First-Time: Part 4

Right-First-Time: Part 4

I always consider that ‘Right-First-Time’ is the fundamental metric for an artwork service. This is a simple pass or fail metric – did the artwork pass through the process once or was any change required? This is difficult to achieve on a consistent basis and requires focus and persistence. This is the subject I am exploring further in this series of Right-First-Time blog posts, along with 10 essential tips to help you get it right-first-time.

Here in part 4 we look at the final two tips, focusing on the importance of quality time, quality facilities and how to create a winning culture in the workplace.

Right-first-time tip 9: Ensure quality time and quality facilities to do quality work

Leadership needs to take accountability for the performance of their function

Reviewing the right-first-time figures at the governance meeting, with sufficient root-causing activity, should highlight areas where the process just seems to ‘get stuck’. Each representative then needs to work to resolve issues that have arisen in their areas of responsibility, in the interests of the whole artwork supply chain.

Quality time for quality work

We talked early in this series about the ‘concertina’ effect in artwork projects, where numerous rounds of rework occur but the deadline is fixed so work gets continually squeezed into faster and faster rework cycles. This is a downward spiral as the increasing pressure likely results in either shortcuts being taken or more errors being made. How often have you seen the situation where an artwork has to be sent out at 5pm on a Friday followed by a phone call asking if you have approved it yet?

One of the greatest benefits of achieving a high right-first-time is to get out of this whirlwind of rework and chasing. Schedules become more stable and outcomes become more predictable. People get the quality time to do the quality work required because they don’t have to do it again and again.

We often hear, ‘Let’s get the artwork started now because is takes forever’. Invariably this means starting without knowing all of the information – this is just a guaranteed way of generating rework. Surely the better way is ‘Let’s get all of the information together and correct and then do the artwork really quickly – ONCE!’

Quality facilities – a tidy desk is a tidy mind

Line clearance procedures in pharmaceutical packaging facilities are a critical quality process. Why? To avoid the risk of cross contamination of products or components from one batch to another.

The principle also applies to artwork. A routine source of error is when source information gets mixed up and the wrong documents are compared. This can be a particular risk when there are a number of strengths of a product being compared against a number of reference documents – it can be easy to be looking at a wrong combination. A clean-down of the work-space between each artwork should be undertaken.

Think about workplace design

Most artwork activity is desk-based in offices, but there are some specific facility requirements that should be considered. Proof reading and artwork review needs good lighting, space to lay out large documents and quiet areas. Many of the roles need two screens so they can be looking at an artwork and a set of instructions, or comparing two artworks.

Think about the facility and equipment needs of the people who undertake the tasks in your processes. If they don’t have what they need, they will be unlikely to be able to do quality work.

Right-first-time tip 10: Ensuring you have the right culture to succeed

Why think about culture?

So what do we mean when we talk about culture in the context of the workplace? Culture is a facet of the way people engage and behave towards each other. It is prevalent in the way people respond to instructions and rules. It affects the way people respond to different types of recognition and reward. Workplace culture is influenced by the different national and geographic cultures present in the workplace.

Culture could be considered as the informal rules in the workplace or ‘the way things get done around here’. Therefore if you want certain behaviours from your team, you need to make sure you have a culture that promotes those behaviours.

What would define a winning culture?

There are lots of ways you could define your target culture. We typically use nine parameters as a starting point:

  • Accountability
  • Commitment and values
  • Sharing of knowledge
  • Team working
  • Customer focus
  • Continuous improvement
  • Decision making
  • Working under pressure
  • Recognition

This list is not exhaustive but covers the key elements we consider most important. However, this isn’t necessarily a list you can just lift and use. Many companies have culture and value statements at a corporate, if not also functional, level and so your target culture needs to align with these. This may impact the parameters you chose or the language you use.

Once you have agreed your parameters, you need to decide what good would look like for each. If you were displaying a successful outcome for each parameter, how would that manifest itself? How would it look and feel? Could you measure it? It is best doing this as a team exercise to build buy-in to the desired outcomes.

How do I get the right culture?

Once you have defined your target culture you can look at how you can achieve it. What is different from today and what will need to change to make that happen? Changing mindset and behaviours is difficult and takes time and perseverance. Do you need to change any management processes? Do you need to do team working training? Do you need to change the way people are measured? How do you reward the people who are doing what you want and what do you do about the people who are not?

Your culture will not change automatically – you need to define the actionable steps that you will take to make it happen. Again, work with your team on this transition plan to build their buy-in..

The role of leaders in attaining the right culture

Leadership is key in realising and sustaining cultural change. Leaders need to express, model and reinforce the new culture you want to achieve. They need to role model the new behaviours – if they don’t, people will not believe it is real. They need to be seen to actively promote the culture you want, recognising teams and individuals who are displaying your new culture and behaviours. Therefore your target culture needs to align with the expectations of your governance, so you need buy-in from leadership as well as the teams involved.

Series summary

In this series of blogs, we have covered a number of tips for how to improve your right-first-time. Summarising these, we have discussed:

Tip 1 – Measure your right-first-time.
Tip 2 – Use codes to categorise errors, then ensure a thorough root cause analysis to eliminate the source of errors.
Tip 3 – Make sure all of the input information is correct before starting.
Tip 4 – Ensure there is a comprehensive and effective end-to-end process with clear roles and responsibilities.
Tip 5 – Make sure the right quality of checks is undertaken by the right people.
Tip 6 – Ensure all people in the process have the appropriate skills, competencies and capabilities through effective training.
Tip 7 – Ensure there is effective cross-functional governance.
Tip 8 – There needs to be an appropriate and scalable suite of IT tools to support the process and people working with it.
Tip 9 – Ensure quality time and quality facilities to do quality work.
Tip 10 – You need to have the right culture, displayed across all teams involved in the end-to-end process to ensure success.

We all understand that packaging and artwork still present a significant compliance risk and delivering right-first-time artwork is a complex endeavour involving many moving parts. Furthermore, being right-first-time increases speed, reduces waste and raises confidence. From this series, we can see that achieving high right-first-time is doable, but there are many parts to be addressed, requiring focus and persistence. As such, right-first-time is as much a mindset as an outcome.

To help you in your Artwork Improvement Programme, you can also find useful information in my book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities
Should you have any questions about this or any other of my blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email: stephen.mcindoe@be4ward.com

For more information on artwork, go to our free download section.