Work Management Barrier Resolution - Radically Reducing Time Spent Tracking Improvement Progress

The Situation

One large generating station conducted a regular weekly meeting in which recent barriers to efficient maintenance work were discussed and actions planned to eliminate such barriers in future work.

These barriers were such things as mechanics getting the wrong parts due to incorrect parts numbers, instructions being incorrect on work plans, and electrical drawings being outdated.

It was common for as many as fifty salaried employees to attend the meeting and almost 75% of the meeting was spent addressing action items that were assigned in previous meetings and assigning new ones. The action item list was an Excel spreadsheet maintained by the Production Manager, who was also in charge of the meeting.

We reasoned that the Production Manager should not have been doing such administrative work, and that status updates on the action items should be submitted prior to the meeting to avoid spending valuable meeting time discussing them. This was a costly process for the station, considering the cost of fifty salaried employees spending considerable time listening to information that was of no value to them.

The Task

My mission was to develop a process by which status updates were logged prior to the weekly meeting so that only new items would be discussed and assigned each week.

The Action

I built a task list from the standard SharePoint task template. I also built an appended comments column so action item resolution progress could be time stamped and logged over the course of resolution, even if solving a particular issue took weeks or months.
The only change management needed was to inform attendees of the upcoming changes to the action item tracking process and the meeting agenda, as well as providing a link to the action item list by email and existing station SharePoint site.

The solution was built and ready for implementation in less than thirty minutes!

The Results

The Production Manager – who happened to be the second highest-ranking employee at the station – was able to walk away from the tedious work of overseeing and maintaining the action item list.

He simply began printing a view of the list showing items that had been modified in the last seven days versus those that had not. He could then read comments on those items of interest to the entire group and then ask attendees about the items that had not been updated. Employees quickly learned that to avoid being called out unnecessarily in the meeting, one only had to ensure status updates were entered prior to meeting day!

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