David Hess, PMP
Best Consulting Specialists Inc.
Feb. 15, 2019
In today’s politically charged climate, these two terms can conjure up negative connotations. In business, however, they are your best friends. Whether it be in Quality, Reliability, Production, Logistics, Suppliers, Projects, Sales,,, managers will establish metrics to support goals and objectives. The manager’s job in creating those metrics is not complete without also developing Monitor and Control plans. Without these, success of achieving the metric is not guaranteed. Rather, failure is imminent.
Monitoring consists of the processes and procedures for comparing actual performance to a predetermined set of metrics. The purpose of monitoring is to highlight variances or deviations from those metrics. Monitoring is a continuous process. It functions to continuously verify performance to those metrics and to detect noteworthy deviations if and when they occur. It starts when the metrics are created by determining what to monitor, when to monitor, and how to monitor. It ends when those metrics expire or are reset.
Controlling is the resulting series of investigations, analyses, and actions taken to determine, and correct, the root cause of a highlighted deviation. Controlling is a finite process that only occurs if there is a deviation. Its starting point is the flagged deviation and its ending point is the implemented action to address that deviation. Once an action is implemented, the Monitoring function resumes to verify the action has corrected the deviation.
Start by deciding What, How, and When to monitor and be specific. Next, move into establishing a Monitoring method. The method is determined by the metric. Establish a reporting process and procedures for reviewing them. These could be routine meetings with suppliers to review quality or delivery performance, or in the case of a budget, they could be automated alerts when deviation limits are exceeded. The more automated the monitoring method can be made, the more likely you are to stay true to the plan because, it is human behavior that during an extended period when things have been going well, we will get complacent in monitoring performance.
The Control Plan consists of a proactively defined series of actions you will take when a deviation has been detected. The goal is to determine and correct the root cause. Those actions are analogous to a toolbox of tools. Among others, the tools could consist of variance analysis, horizontal analysis, Ishikawa, or Five Why. Which one to use depends upon the metric but the key to finding and correcting the root cause is to stay true to the process. Once a likely cause has been identified, it needs to be validated and a solution needs to be created to correct it. That solution must to be tested BEFORE it is implemented. This step is critical to ensure not only that the solution provides the desired result, but to also insure the it does not break something elsewhere. After these steps, the solution is implemented and then monitored.
These may seem like intuitive steps but in the rush to implement a metric, or to implement a solution, steps get skipped and result in potentially disastrous outcomes. One need not look far into the recent past to find examples such as, Apple’s Antennae issue, or when KFC ran out of chicken in the UK. Monitoring and Controlling are a Business’ best friend.
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