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Posted 22 January 2019 by
Joachim Lasoen
VP Solution for Binocs Technology

Yes, our work can be standardized (although we initially didn’t think so)

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Business context

Every project is unique. Every task requires a different effort. Every activity has a lead time that depends on the business context. Shortly, nothing is standard and will not and cannot be standardized.

That’s how we saw things until our department was dragged into a lean exercise with strict methodologies led by seasoned McKinsey consultants.

While beating quite some organizational resistance, we started to see the power of standardized work. We discovered that maybe there are quite some things that are more or less recurring and standard. Each unique project is a  combination of a standard building.


Improvement potential

Lean exercises take 3 months, are very demanding and shaky and force our organization in a new way of thinking with new KPIs. So far so good. But we saw in our company that such initiatives are hard to sustain. There is a lot of paper and excel work involved and rather sooner than later, this starts to weigh on the efficiency and motivation of the team. We were looking for a higher degree of automation to ensure success in the long term.

With Binocs we were able to sustain the efficiency gains of our operational excellence lean initiatives.

How Binocs helped

We agreed on standardized work, which means that we defined “normal” lead times and workloads for the majority of our work item types such as “Technical Writing” and “Publishing”.

We also aligned around the “normal” submission process, which we configured in the Binocs Operating Model and which became the reference for our operation.

We went through some change management to get there, but these two aspects of standardization opened up a huge improvement in throughput and planning adherence.

But the wealth is often found in the simple things. We discovered how valuable it was that finally, our staff all made the same delivery promise. It creates trust and enables lean flow, not only in our department but also with our partners in supply chain and R&D.

We also measured our lead times and using Binocs data science analytics, we are now able to regularly tune our work standards to meet the reality. We are probably the only Regulatory Affairs department in the world that closed this loop using state-of-the-art data science.