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Proudfoot Active Management

Active Management, Business Intelligence & the Importance of Front Line Managers

As businesses get smarter and operations more efficient, we’ve seen many companies install a wide variety of business intelligence (BI) tools, all meant to improve systemwide performance management.

It's a great trend, and at many of our clients, these tools and techniques are yielding great results. But as teams adjust to these smarter ways of working, senior management often becomes over-reliant on their tools, leading to a self-perpetuating system that works only for the sake of providing insights to senior managers. Insight is important, of course, but helping the people who turn the wrenches achieve their targeted results is always the ultimate goal.

We’ve all seen it: front line workers update a reporting tool because they’re told they are required to update it, and not because they believe in the value that this reporting creates. It's not uncommon for staff to get so frustrated with the perceived extra work of using the technology that they give up and stop reporting altogether.

So you've invested in business intelligence tools, they're a big part of your new Management Operating System, and you're excited about building a Continuous Improvement Culture — how can you ensure your BI is driving value for all employees 6 months down the road?

The answer is in active management and short interval controls.

At Proudfoot, we’ve seen 10-20% labor productivity improvements in our clients through simple deployment of active management principles. With new technologies unlocking greater analytics capabilities, and control cells providing daily insight into business operations, it’s easy to see why upper management would find these tools so exciting. However, some companies have allowed the basics to slip in favor of the digital:

  1. Cell-based Plan-Do-Check-Act boards are no longer used or have become overly digitized, complex, and cumbersome
  2. Foremen and supervisors have their heads buried in mobile devices and computers, focused solely on dealing with digital requirements
  3. Management walks have become too infrequent, as managers prefer to lead by dashboard and not by active participation
  4. Root cause corrective action never takes place because recording simple data points at the cell level is too cumbersome for cell leaders to do accurately

Implement and prioritize these Eight Active Management Behaviors to drive improved workforce productivity and daily results.

image001“One of the most difficult jobs in any company is that of the frontline manager. They must take the vision, wishes, wants, and goals of upper management and figure out how to execute these in a way that results are achieved, all the while maintaining positive employee relations.”
–Proudfoot’s Active Management Brochure

By rededicating efforts to building the skill sets of front line managers, you’ll find an incredibly cost-effective — and sustainable! — method of improving your daily reporting and daily results. Re-focus middle and upper management on fostering a culture that places front line managers at the fore, and provide them the tools, techniques, and support they need. It's the best way to both empower your workforce and optimize your investment in business intelligence.

At Proudfoot, we like to say “Heads Up” – as in, get your heads up and out of that device or screen, and put your attention back on the work being done right in front of you. Engage, enlighten, empower — because the future of business is still people!

Article by Dennis Santare, Managing Director, MRO Americas