Written by Tim Short
Implementing a Labor Management System (LMS) can drive substantial savings across a company’s network, but it also represents a significant Change Management exercise for many organizations. Below are 7 steps to take before you officially launch a Labor Management Program in your facilities.
Secure Executive sponsorship
“Labor Management” is a people project more than a technology project requiring behavior change across your teams; especially for managers. Conduct a thorough review of all related KPIs. Leadership needs to be on-board with changes to “how” work gets managed.
Select a project owner/change management leader
A WLM Project may require a dedicated resource whose day-to-day responsibilities are eliminated for a period, depending on the complexity of the operation and the workforce. You need a champion for the project, driving ROI, ensuring managers and operators don’t fall back on old habits when the urgency of the day job creeps in.
Discuss the goal of the Labor Management Program with your team.
Remember: In the absence of communication, people will fill in the gaps with their own fears. Most people will assume the goal is to cut headcount, but if your business has the fortunate problem of increasing volume, a LMS is a great way to ensure everyone is meeting expectations, that your expectations are fair, and your workforce can keep pace with the increasing expectations.
Define a “Standard” for your team. Standards of work should be achievable by the average trained employee (not your top employee) under average conditions. Team Members should be able to go home and cut their grass at the end of the day, not leaving on a stretcher.
Plan for a burn-in period (~60-90 days) for processes to stabilize, training to take root, errors to be identified and coaching well underway. Standards may have to be fine tuned during this time. Your team should not plan to use the Engineered Standards for discipline purposes right away but should be working diligently to develop the processes and muscle memory for using the system to run the business.
Gather & validate your current Standard Operating Procedures: Do they represent what is really happening, or what you hope is happening?
An operation should have 3-way alignment between what should happen, what is happening, and what is measured when defining & documenting processes. Misalignment in any way between these three definitions will result in resistance, gaming the system and a lack of adoption. You won’t achieve your ROI.
Coaching for Performance
Observe the Work: Most Leaders think they know what happens in their warehouses, but managers frequently see something they were unaware of when they observe an entire task with one of their operators.
Work Smarter, Not Harder: You must understand the work your people do, and the conditions they encounter. Employee performance is commonly affected by things outside of their control, and identifying and addressing issues that help your people, helps drive acceptance of your program.
Moving from “What” to “How”: An effective coach provides feedback on “how” to achieve the standard, not just “what” the standard is. Helping an individual save 2 seconds per pick by engaging their equipment differently, or reducing steps, can return hours back to your operation each day when scaled across your staff.
Review your Current Policies
Are your policies documented and if so, do they support the implementation of a LM program? Do they define the expectations of your workforce? Will they support a progressive discipline approach? If the answer is “no” plan time and energy to revisit them.
Do you have documents that tell an Operator how to perform their duties? Are they current? How are they maintained? Plan to get sign-off on the training documents.
For more information on selecting a LMS and how to engage with the Accelogix team, check out our Labor Management section.
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