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Team Building Across Our Platform with Continuous Improvement

Patrick Sondreal

Continuous Improvement (CI) is a consistent goal at IWCO Direct. At the outset of the new year, the team is focused on continuing to engage department leaders and leveraging data to measure, drive, and sustain our continuous improvement efforts across the platform.

Where We’re Going in 2017

Many CI projects are collaborative and require teams across front-end functions and operations as well as across sites. The scope of our platform offers both challenges and opportunities for our team. With multiple facilities and locations, it’s imperative to have strong working relationships and ensure partners are engaged throughout the project milestones. It’s also important that the CI team stays connected and in-sync. To that end, we’re bringing in our CI team members from Hamburg and Little Falls for an onsite meeting in Chanhassen, where we will brainstorm and map out our team’s goals and objectives for 2017.

During that meeting we’ll be putting structure around how the CI team can help IWCO Direct make better use of:

  • Collecting front-end data
  • Utilizing metrics and dashboards to sustain gains
  • Cross-department problem-solving
  • Getting the right data in the hands of the right leaders in a timely manner
  • Putting a greater focus on CI within operations

Business Practice Standardization (BPS)

The CI team supported a Best Practice Standardization (BPS) initiative in 2016, which was developed and led by senior operations leaders in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. For the past 12 months, teams have focused on standardizing processes throughout operations such as job start procedures and signoffs in the bindery, personalization, commingle, inserting, and affixing areas. Team goals are to standardize documents, terminology, eliminate redundancies, and store documentation in a common site on our company intranet.

Some of the most measurable benefits to an organization using Standard Work procedures include:

  • Reduced re-work due to errors in the production process or discrepancies between production operators
  • Reduced time looking for tools, documents, or required inputs to complete tasks
  • Better more comprehensive training procedures for new staff and re-training of existing operators
  • Improved quality if implemented throughout the production process and focus on quality at the source

The steps we are taking to standardize processes across our platform will create a more organized, skilled, efficient, and reliable process that will yield better quality products and services. It will also provide an efficient way of operating and training staff in performing value-adding tasks consistently in a reliable and structured manner.

The Value of a Strong CI Platform

Of course, none of this would be achievable without the people, expertise and tools that our CI platform affords us. Here are the elements of our CI platform that will help us advance in 2017:

People – The CI team relies on our subject matter experts to help shape our projects and drive results. The speed at which we can drive and sustain change is a balance between our own team and our partners’ capacity, efforts, and workload.

Technology – We aim to create solutions that can be leveraged across our platform. We’ve made some great headway by leveraging reporting tools in our company intranet (iDirect) to help unify processes across our platform.

Data – We have developed a repository of QA data, which is currently used within the QA/CI team. Now we’re looking to engage operations teams to self-report to help us identify areas of improvement opportunities. Data also ensures we are accurately measuring our results, helping us to measure our baseline, monitor improvement and sustain results in to the future.

Our central theme in 2017 is to do an even better job across the platform by learning from each other – sharing ideas, solutions, data, successes, failures, etc. With our Continuous Improvement efforts and the team that implements them, we will continue to improve on this in 2017. We are one big, strong team and that only remains true when we work together.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2017/01/11/team-building-with-continuous-improvement/
Patrick Sondreal


Patrick Sondreal

Chief Production Officer. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Commissioned officer of the U.S. Navy who brings a commitment to teamwork and continuous improvement to IWCO Direct every day. Wisconsin Badger fan who loves being part of his kids’ activities.

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