Engaging Data Explains :
Creating The Gold Standards in Data –
In this third part of our blog on gold standards, we’re going to assess the importance of processes in creating an ideal data environment. If you recall from previous parts of this blog, we have juxtaposed the process of dealing with data with the running of a cake shop. And when you’re developing the ideal processes for either type of business, simplicity is critically important.
But ‘process’ also refers to several aspects of the business. It can refer to the discussion of new orders with customers. It can be related to the process involved; the time it may take to bake and distribute cakes. It can also be related to the management of customer expectations and orders.
The process involved with the business can help your team understand what they do and how they fit in, as well as playing a vital role in deciphering and organising team responsibilities, interactions and achieving gold standards. It means that even if team members aren’t specialists in a particular area, they can still refer to established processes and be aware that they will result in a strong final product. For example, if a baker doesn’t know how to decorate a cake, they can understand that it can be decorated, and potentially the time that this will take.
Understanding The Process
A good rule of thumb is to aim for the production team to understand enough about the process that they can make accurate estimates on production schedules. This demonstrates how much you can produce in one week if everyone works at 100% efficiency. And it also offers details of the effort needed to create the cake, and therefore the return or profit derived from the product.
Once you have a good understanding of customer demand and production time, you can better manage cost and resourcing, potentially enabling you to offer alternatives to customers who have particular requirements. For example, customer demand may require the cake shop to produce 1,000 cakes in a week instead of just 100. By developing a process around the type of cake shop the establishment wishes to be in the local market, the orders can be successfully fulfilled.
In order to address this, the cake shop conducted some research on the market, reviewing the orders received over the last 12 months. Based on this data, they decided to optimise their operation so that they produced a consistent standard of high quality, mid-price range cakes using the best quality local produce. It is anticipated that this will constitute 80% of the company’s orders. Alongside this, some premium cakes will also be produced, with the intention of satisfying exclusive clientele, after the manager of the store noticed that this sort of cake tends to produce positive social media feedback.
With this in mind, the business decided to create a unified process, enabling her staff to process both types of orders using the same equipment. Different ingredients and alterations in the production process were required for the bakers to produce premium cakes, consequently more effort and attention to detail was needed. Furthermore, separate ingredient storage and labelling – to avoid premium ingredients being used within the standard cake – was also deemed essential.
Whether making cakes en masse to sell to local shops, or an artisan cake shop producing a range of bespoke, high quality and expensive cakes, each manufacturer will develop its own process to suit the desired output.
Questions you can ask yourself:
- Do we understand what cake or range of cakes that we are trying to produce?
- Can you easily explain your process to a customer, in terms they understand?
- Is the manufacturing process suitable for the product/product range?
- Do you understand the running costs involved with making more cakes?
Tools and Delivery
Producing gold standard cakes is not as simply as merely building a process or hiring the best people. In some cases, you can be limited by your tools. Realistically, there may be budgetary restraints that prevent you from purchasing the appropriate equipment for the job. So it can be best to utilise existing tools, but highlight them within the process as a potential risk to production. This will help with any customer discussions, particularly understanding any impact on production costs.
The new process at the cake shop enabled existing equipment, including the all-important ovens, to be fully utilised in the production of the desired range of cakes. As a result, business is soon booming and there is a large backlog of orders.
After assessing the production process and resources, the manager of the bakery decides that the most cost-effective way of increasing production is simply to add another oven within the production line. The additional oven enables the same staff and process to double the number of cakes that can be produced, while retaining the same processing time. The initial purchase price and ongoing maintenance costs are easily met by the increased revenue.
Questions you can ask yourself:
- Do my tools enable me to produce our products effectively and efficiently?
- What limitations do we have?
- Do we utilise our tools correctly?
- Do our production process utilise our tools in the best way possible?
- Are there any other tools that can help me, either by saving resources or production time?
Production time is often hidden from customers. All of your fantastic looking cakes in the shop window. or publicised on social media, take time to produce. Yet customers rarely appreciate the intricacy of the production process. Nor are they usually willing to wait! Therefore, managing expectations around deadlines from the very minute that any customer orders a cake will either address any concerns, which is why it’s always better to talk about this issue first.
Sometimes the thinking or desires of customers can change at the eleventh hour. On one occasion, the cake shop received a call from a customer late on Friday evening. At the last minute, Mr Jones had remembered that he needed to order a cake, so that it was ready for tomorrow’s big party. As one of the company’s bakers completed the order form, he realised that this order may not be possible, based on the existing orders that are already due to be baked tomorrow. After a quick check with the kitchen staff, he confirms that the order cannot be satisfied, and subsequently informs Mr. Jones. The customer was disappointed, but understood after the kitchen capacity and pre-existing orders were explained to him.
Being transparent with customers and influencers about existing orders and production processes will help any business, but these processes will never stop unexpected orders from appearing at 8pm on a Friday night. However, it does create a consistent customer experience and help companies to mitigate any associated disappointment. Communication can be critical when all other approaches fall short.
Creating gold standards in data, or any business, is always dependent on efficient processes being put in place. These processes encompass every aspect of dealing with internal and external factors, and consequently it is critical for companies to continually refine every aspect of their operation.