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Guest Post: Increasing Employee Engagement Through Increased Operations Visibility

By David Turbide, CFPIM, CMfgE, CIRM

There is a lot of interest in visibility these days, and rightly so. Visibility throughout the enterprise and to the far reaches of the supply chain is becoming more and more pervasive through the evolution of sensors, RFID, Internet connectivity, cellular technology, location services (GPS) and even the Internet of Things — which recognizes that nearly everything can and will be visible and connected in the foreseeable future.

The cloud and big data are intimately involved in harnessing and exploiting this onrush of visibility, but the main focus of these discussions is how to handle the sheer volume, velocity and variety of data and — most importantly — how to turn it into information and intelligence through analytics and data visualization.

But who gets to see the information, and how will it help those people improve performance?

It may seem obvious that executives and decision-makers need all the information they can get, delivered in a way they can use most effectively. But others in the ecosystem should not be excluded.

Many companies post key performance results and graphs for all employees to see — production rates, productivity or utilization, performance against schedule, quality measurements and the like — to motivate the team and encourage improvement. Sometimes that is the extent of the data that’s made available, however.

Thanks to a myriad of ways to manage, condense and present it, data is now more easily accessible than ever before, and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to envision how the enterprise can benefit from wider distribution and use of this information. My point is this: As new sources of data or streams of information become available through the business intelligence solutions you’ve adopted, consider making them available beyond the executive decision-makers.

This is not to imply that workers should all become analysts of this precious information — and besides, not everyone will take to the idea. But once you implement appropriate and accessible analytical tools and dashboards at the department level and beyond, everyone will have the opportunity to get more insight into and value out of operations they’re directly involved with — from an asset you already own.

Dave is a consultant, writer, educator and subject matter expert with firsthand knowledge of manufacturing management practices, supply chain functions and enterprise systems. He is certified by APICS as a Supply Chain Professional, at the fellow level in Production and Inventory Management and in Integrated Resource Management. He has authored six books, published hundreds of articles and is currently president of the APICS Granite State Chapter. For more information, visit daveturbide.com.