Gut instinct doesn’t cut it when making business decisions. This is especially true in businesses that revolve around compliance and consumer safety. Hence the emphasis on big data and making data-driven decisions. While these are important, they’re larger ideas that require smaller goals to make it a reality. It’s easy to say you want to use data, but to use it effectively you first need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Thinking of data in terms of metrics collection helps you focus on what you want to know and plan to do with the data. Your company is already swimming in data. What you want is to home in on useful data. As someone in the life sciences industry, you already have lots of quality and manufacturing data. Some of the metrics your company might be interested in could involve deviations, data entry errors, or efficiency, but before diving into those metrics, the first thing to consider is what you want to accomplish.
When you define your goals, it is important to be specific and ensure they’re measurable. For example, manufacturers often find post-production review time can be painfully, and expensively, long. While product is ready to ship out, it sits on the shop floor until the production record has been approved. Once that happens it can finally be released. The sooner a manufacturer delivers its product, the sooner they can start making money off of it. So, a specific and measurable goal would be to reduce post-production review time to expedite shipment. In this case, you could establish the goal of a 25% reduction in review time.
Now that we have a goal, it’s time to think about what metrics are needed to demonstrate the goal has been achieved. For this goal, we need to know how long review times take and then calculate a 25% reduction so we can measure our progress. It’s helpful to determine what other metrics need to be improved so you can address the problem you’re trying to solve. For example, you can measure how many data entry errors are made during production and determine how many need to be resolved to enable the product to be released 25% faster.
When you’ve defined the metrics you need, the next step is to collect them. In some cases, this is a passive step because digital manufacturing and quality systems automatically collect the data for you. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Even if a company is using digital systems, it’s not unusual for production records to still be recorded on paper. If that’s the case at your company, that means someone will have to manually record when a batch finishes and when it ships to tell you how long the review time was.
Even if your system automatically collects your metrics, you might still wind up manually transferring it to whatever program you use for data analytics. In many cases, this means a data dump into Excel. That’s reality for many organizations, but it shouldn’t be like that. Manual processes result in mistakes, and then your data is incorrect and the metrics you have aren’t reliable. Quality and/or manufacturing software systems should have built-in analytics capabilities that can take the metrics you need and turn them into useful information.
One example of this is MasterControl Insights . It works with all MasterControl solutions, including quality and manufacturing, to provide users with actionable information about their operations. With MasterControl Premium Insights, users can select which metrics they want to track and combine metrics in a way that helps them meet their goals. All of this is done using a simple drag-and-drop interface that creates easily customizable visuals.
Of course, metrics don’t do any good if you don’t act on them. In some cases, this will basically mean testing out a hypothesis. You might assume that post-production review time will improve if you allocate more employees to that function. Doing that and then tracking the metrics can indicate if your assumption was correct. More advanced applications, like Insights, can suggest improvements to your production processes based on existing metrics. For example, Insights will be able to tell you which employees should work on a line to increase output or improve quality.
Every company has goals, but those goals can only be achieved if you’re measuring progress toward them. Metrics are key to determining if your company is moving in the right direction. Following these five steps will ensure you focus on the right metrics to determine whether you’re meeting your goals. Most of these steps are easier if your company uses digital systems to automatically collect and analyze those metrics.
For additional insights read, "Novelty Becomes Necessity: 2021 Analytics Trends."
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