Selection of Improvement Projects and Project Implementation Method

A couple of months ago, when I published the article Top 9 projects topics for apparel production students, I had received a request from readers to write an article on “Topics for mini-projects for the IE”. This article is for those who are planning to do an improvement project in their factory or departmental level by themselves.

I can suggest you many topics that can be taken as improvement projects. But just suggesting a topic does not make any sense. Because every factory is unique in term of problems faced by them. What all problems you faced need to be solved one by one. Solving a problem in a proper method is a project. You should do an improvement project that is essential to improve your departmental performance as well as factory performance. So I would suggest you first learn how to select the right topic for mini projects (improvement projects) in your factory or within a department. Then go for implementation of that project with the predefined project plan.

I will show you guidelines on how you can select the right topic for improvement project and implement the same. Continuous growth is necessary to survive in today’s business. Whatever department you are holding, you must keep doing new things that help to increase your performance. Bringing improvement in departmental level is important to keep yourself and your team motivated. Otherwise, if you only perform the same task day after day you will lose interest in your work.

A lot of things is happening around the world and in your neighbour factories. Change in management policies, implementation of new systems, technology level, processes improvement to name a few. One way of bringing improvement you can steal good practices from other companies and implement it to your company for betterment.

Secondly, Instead of stealing ideas from other factories there is a lot of things and opportunity areas that you can do to improve the performance of your factory and department that you head. Undergo a small project with your team. Once you learn the technique of problem finding and can design an action plan, it would not be a difficult job to do an improvement project.

Implementation of a project is done in three steps
  1. Listing of real problems 
  2. Selection of right topics 
  3. Project implementation 

#1. Listing of Real Problems

I have named it Real Problems. List down real problems those irritate you, reduce your performance, and create delays, affect on quality. Consider problems as opportunity areas to you.

There are two ways to find problems or areas that need to be improved.

a. If you know there are problems within your department and those problems need to be shorted out the list down all those problems. Each problem can be converted as project topics.

b. If you don’t find any issue within your department related to your performance but wants to do some improvement project ask the head of the departments (HOD) of other departments. Listen to what they think that you need to improve. List down what others suggest you improve.

#2. Selection of topic

You have a detail list of problems in your hand. To select one topic out of the list

  • go for a poll with your team members and associated departments,
  • if you have measuring tools and have data for listed problems use those data for selecting your topic or
  • select a topic that you think is easy to accomplish but gives you better outcome.

Example#1: Take an example of Garment Production. If you ask me to find problems related to your factory performance. I will look into Key Performance Areas (KPIs) of the production department and analyze those KPIs to find which KPI need to be improved first. Common KPIs of a garment production factory are -
  • Line Efficiency, 
  • Labor Cost per minute, 
  • Throughput time, 
  • Non-productive time, 
  • Productivity, 
  • Line set-up time 
  • DHU level 
I assumed that you used to measure your factory KPIs. Collect figures for each performance indicators for the last three months. Compare figures against your target or industry benchmark. Which KPI do you think need to be improved first? Or which one is easier to improve but might bring higher benefits to the company than other KPIs? Pick that one as project topic. Let’s say average line efficiency is not as per your target (or at par industry benchmark). You can do a project on “Improving Line efficiency” and your problem is ‘Low factory efficiency’

In case you don’t measure factory KPI then deciding KPI of your factory/production department and measuring each indicator itself is a big project. Do a project on this topic.

Topic: Implementation of KPIs and Analysis of Factory KPI monthly

Example#2: If you are working in the quality department then you can also do many things to enhance product quality. The most important thing is the factory must have a stable quality system and everyone follow the system religiously. If you already have a stable quality system in place then analyze major quality issues reported by the buyer’s inspector or internal quality managers. Pick one topic from buyer feedback and do a project on improvement.

#3. Project Implementation or Plan of Action

Project Topic: Improving Line Efficiency

Now the question is how to move forward to improve line efficiency?

Project selection part is easier. The most difficult part is the implementation of a project. Sit with your team or you can do this part alone. When you focus on this project you have to find how line efficiency can be improved? What parameters are associated with line efficiency? Read various methods that I have explained in the article 20 ways to improve productivity in garment production and pick one method that suits you and go ahead with implementation.

Prepare Action plan once you have decided what methods you are going to do to improve line efficiency.

Do implementation as per your plan. Assign or delegate the task to your subordinates and execute whether everything is done on time and targeted output.

Measure line efficiency after improvement action has taken place to the line. Compare it with the previous efficiency level. If your improvement project helps to increase line efficiency establish it in your system and add changes to your routine.

If your improvement project does not bring improvement in line efficiency, find another way to improving line efficiency and implement.

What is next? I want to listen to you what improvement projects you are going to do in your department or in your factory. You can drop me a mail if you need any guidance in implementing your project.

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