5 Tips to Ensure Effective Change Management in Manufacturing.

Heraclitus had it right when he coined the saying “Change is the only constant.” In the context of Operational Excellence, change is not only something that is inevitable, it is actually the goal.

At its core, Operational Excellence is about the pursuit of perfection - finding problems and opportunities and implementing those improvements. Change will occur along this journey. The question is not whether or not it will occur, it's about how well your organization manages it.

Change can create chaos. Depending on its severity and how defiant the audience is, changes to the “status quo” can have sweeping consequences to employee morale, productivity, and your organization's bottom line.

So how do we most effectively manage the natural issues that arise when processes are innovated?

employee engagement in manufacturing

1) Standardization is key.

The documentation of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) is widely regarded as a "must-do" before any organization can undertake process engineering. The process required to document the procedures allows for staff to share insights into what they do and why and enables discussions about efficiency and troubleshooting.

The major reason to document and train on SOPs is that it makes it much easier for staff to recognize and correct deviations that may be affecting product quality and production efficiency.

Documenting procedures can be a very thorough and detailed process. Or you can keep it light. Depending on your organization's acceptance to change and how involved your processes are, it can be easier to start with a light overview and revise in iterations as you move forward.

Feel free to use this document template as a starting point.

2) Consult all stakeholders especially those affected most by the change.

When making changes to a process, it is imperative that the staff that are most affected by the changes are consulted during the improvement process.

Most organizations we work with employ both a “top-down” and “bottom-up” approach to continuous improvement. Top-down projects are initiated by corporate objectives and bottom-up projects are initiated by observations and suggestions from the floor. A good suggestions program is a great way to ensure staff are engaged and feel involved in the process.

You can also require operator level approval of document changes and enlist a “champion” to help with the training process if required.


3) Take your time.

Unless a corrective action is required immediately to prevent a catastrophe, changes do not have to happen immediately.

In a general sense, if you take a bit more time than you think is required and take “your foot off the gas” a bit, you will find that additional ideas are presented to affect the quality and sustainability of the change. Also - the transition will be more seamless because staff have gotten used to the idea that the process is going to change.

If you are managing a large change, such as new equipment or software on the line, you can always try a phased rollout approach instead of doing everything all at once.

4) Ensure your process is compliant with regulatory requirements.

Food, beverage, pharma and CPG manufacturers are governed by the FDA for document management and approvals. Canadian and EU manufacturers have equivalent regulatory requirements.

Compliance basically requires that manufacturers can be audited on their SOPs and must have an audit trail to track changes. 21 CFR Part 11 governs digital record keeping and storage. Basically - if you are a US food manufacturer, you need to be aware of the regulations and/or use a system that takes care of that for you.

Weever’s platform is Part 11 compliant so we’ve got you covered on that front.

5) Provide a variety of ways for staff to understand the change before you implement it.

People learn in different ways. Some like to see a presentation and ask questions. Some like to review videos and other documentation on their own time and get back to you.

Offering multiple ways for change to be understood will only help the process go as smoothly as possible.

Weever is Operational Excellence Software that empowers the pursuit of perfection by enhancing operational visibility, collaboration and productivity in quality, maintenance, safety and production.

To learn more about how Weever can help you attain results in OpEx, please feel free to get in touch.