Operation: Organizing and storing papers for the materials maintenance department of machinery and devices manufacturing unit.
Problem: Sharma of the materials maintenance department is in charge of maintaining and storing papers for his department. Recently, the men in the materials section have been complaining that they can’t get the documents they need when they are necessary and that this interrupts their work.
At present, the clerical workers in each section organize and store the papers (forms, documents, standard purchase documents, etc) for the materials section. As part of their daily work, the materials section workers give the papers which they have issued to or received from the clerical workers, who file them and then get them out and deliver them to the materials section when asked for.
These workers say that they want the papers they request on a given day to be on their desk no later than the next morning. When they suddenly need related papers or document, it usually takes too long to get them. The clerical workers are not being slow but they would like to change their work from one in which they are requested to do something to one in which they can work on their own initiative.
Sharma feels that the problem lies in the way in which papers are stored. He decided to ask his immediate superior if he could reorganize the paper filing system.
Understanding the Situation in which Papers do not flow properly
Sharma with the permission of his chief and the cooperation of the materials section and the clerical workers, decided to look for the causes from three different viewpoints and find out what was necessary to solve the problem.
The obvious problem: Naturally developed and unsystematic filing system with partial conformity
1. The filing system for each section is different, with everyone making up their own system as it occurs to them.
2. Each section has many papers which are stored in duplicate.
3. Filing equipment is also different depending on the section.
4. The method and order of filing depends on the person in charge, which means that when the concerned person is absent, it is difficult to find the papers.
5. There are no rules for paper maintenance, which means that there are no rules for how long a paper is stored and when it is to be destroyed. Next, they found out what sort of losses were being incurred.
Incurred losses: Increase in filing and clerical operations cost and purchasing cost
1. The number of files increased. Lot of time is spent on searching and work has to wait.
2. When the person in charge of the files is absent, work has to be stopped.
3. Lockers and cabinets for storing papers increase and consume the available storage space.
4. When a paper can’t be found, it has to be re-issued, meaning that work increases, mistakes are made, and deadlines are missed.
5. Because the materials section people have to wait so often for forms and documents, it means that they have less time for VE (value engineering) activities, which has a bad influence on VE goals.
Next, Sharma looked for the causes of each problem point listed in (1) and for each loss in (2).
Causes of loss: Standards for processing work are not maintained, clerical processing is not controlled.
1. Steps and methods of clerical processing are naturally developed and left totally on the discretion of the clerical workers.
2. The clerical processing of the materials department members and clerical workers is not the same. There is no total system, only partial conformity.
3. Quantifying the clerical work is considered to be difficult, quantity is not measured or adjusted. For this reason, some people are busy while others are not.
4. Instead of thinking about improving the clerical structure, the materials department members give priority to the purchasing department.
5. Section chiefs are not directly in charge of the office, so they do not attempt to change things.
6. Clerical workers have not learnt about how to make improvements and they do not know the methods and steps for making improvements.