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46 The PCB Magazine • May 2014 by Steve Williams steVe wIllIams consultInG llc Best Practices 101, Part 1 c o l u m n PoiNt of View Introduction In the global economy that is today's busi- ness environment, there are no guarantees as indeed, survival is not mandatory! The need for best practices is present in every industry, but mandatory in technology industries such as printed circuit board manufacturing. In this new series, I will convey some of the personal lessons gained through my intimate involvement with more than 1,000 manufac- turing companies, which has allowed me the unique perspective of truly understanding best practices by witnessing both the best of the best and the worst of the worst. Best Practice—n. In business, a technique or methodology that, through practical experi- ence, has proven to consistently lead to superior results over other means. Applied as a system, it combines all the collective experience, knowl- edge and technology at one's disposal. —Williams Business Dictionary, 2014 Process Analysis One could argue—actually, I would argue— that before any improvement to a process can be made, the current state of the processes must be understood. Process analysis is just a fancy way to say this. If we consider waste to be any- thing in a process that is not adding value, then the question becomes, how do I identify waste in my process? The most effective method of identifying waste is by process mapping: from basic process flowcharting to advanced value- stream mapping. These two powerful tools will help any organization take the first step toward identifying the value, and non-value, activities in their processes. As my esteemed high school classmate Dr. Shigeo Shingo once famously said, "The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize." Process improvement is the key to achieving both short- and long-term gains, which result in a significant increase in overall operational per- formance. By analyzing your current processes, you can determine which steps add value, as well as where and when defects occur. Process analysis is a careful evaluation of each step of the process from the input's perspective as it is transformed into the output. Each step needs to be questioned on both why and how it is be- ing performed. Just because the standard, "we have always done it this way" may apply, does not mean that it is the best way, and this is the part most organizations struggle with the most. Quantum improvement sometimes requires quan- tum change, and the willingness to approach process analysis with an open mind is critical to

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