Process Development | Warehouse Engineers

Process Development

How do you train your employees?

Do you have several training manuals or is it tribal knowledge? Is the most experienced associate or manager assigned to walk through a new employee through the basics?

Process Development is leveling the playing field for all employees to have a common understanding and framework for the way your organization works.  Process Development is a collection of work instructions or guidelines to serve as a training tool and reference for employees.  It’s all too common to rely on experience or tribal knowledge for directives, but in today’s competitive job market retaining knowledge is critical.   Documenting policies and procedures may have a negative connotation, but when executed properly employees buy into the process.  A management program makes their job easier by eliminating the guesswork and grey areas in the workplace.  Having a standard eliminates the guess work on the floor and allows an opportunity for continuous improvement.

How does process development work?

Process development starts with common a task.  In warehousing a common process is unloading an order.  However, there could be written instructions for unloading a van, flat bed, box car or flat bed car.  I’m sure all the associates on the floor can unload all these vehicles, but do they all unload the same way? When starting to document a process safety & simplicity are critical, not time. Employees should not feel rushed or threatened by sharing their knowledge. Documenting the process also requires collaboration between management, supervisors and employees. Management may assign or direct what procedures should be documented, but the people doing the work should be empowered to document the procedures.   When developing the procedures, we always want to make sure we don’t get in exceptions or what if scenarios.  A good rule of thumb is to focus on 80% of our task and steps. If an event occurs outside of the document steps, that’s where management and training principles come into play.

After documenting a process like unloading a van, it’s important to have a team review it.  The team review serves multiple purposes: 1st it provides an opportunity for employee to voice their opinion, 2nd it always employees to verify no critical steps are missing, and finally it generates buy in from all employees. Once the team has reviewed the procedure, management should sign off for accuracy and approval. Once unloading the van procedure is placed in operation, it should be reviewed on a regular basis. Reviewing the document provides an opportunity to improve the process and account for any changes to equipment and product that may have occurred.

Do you need assistance with developing your standard operating procedures?

Contact warehouse engineers to discuss a custom solution for your warehouse.

My first day as an intern I was assigned writing a SOP for a new piece of equipment.  I remember thinking how I am going to write this instruction, and I’ve never operated this equipment in my life.   I started with reading the instructions (what a noble concept).  After writing down the warnings and operating instructions, I went to ask the mechanics how they would operate the equipment. I got various opinions on what to do when, but we sat down to review the process together. We quickly came to agreement, then I typed up the document and added pictures.  The next day the manager was impressed with the SOP I put together. Not because of my technical knowledge or expertise, but my collaboration approach and communication skills. I can do the same for your company.

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