How Control Plans are Effective in the Business and in the Home

by GuestPoster on February 18, 2012

Some years ago my son had a problem with the engine in his jeep seizing, because he had failed to keep the oil at a satisfactory level. Granted, it was an old model that used to go through at least a quart of oil every month. However, the experience was an expensive lesson and inspired him to create an appointment in his iCal,  which reminded him every Saturday that he must check the fluid levels of his new vehicle. This is a simple example, but it powerfully illustrates the value of a properly implemented control plan. There is very little time is spent by my son checking the fluid levels, and it is certainly a lot cheaper than him having to purchase a new engine.

Continual Improvement With Control Plans

Even though Manufacturing industries are traditional users of control plans (they are a major part of the curriculum of any Six Sigma Training program), their value cannot be ignored for any other style of business as well.

The Low Cost Process Control

It is often said that it is easier and cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one. Process improvement can benefit from this principle as well; it is much easier to maintain an existing process than it is to repair a broken one. You can also apply this idea to outside the business world. In the realm of weight loss, for instance,  it is a relatively simple process to maintain weight at a steady level.  Once weight is gained however, it then requires a massive effort to lose it.  The point is that people and processes will try to reject massive changes;  and process control is much more economical than process improvement.

How Does A Control Plan Work?

The manufacturing world (here is an example of control plans in the manufacturing world) will use regular inspections and tests during the creation of a product to make sure everything is going smoothly. Control plans in the business world will tend to be a lot less complicated, but still work best when applied with enough discipline.

A simple example might be a telephone answering service that loses a large customer. On examination it may be discovered that this particular customer preferred to use the email service to report problems, but it is also found that the team dealing with emails is somewhat slow to respond. The customer may have eventually become so dissatisfied with the service that they took their business elsewhere.

A fix for this problem could be more staff, or an upgrade to the email system; but supporting the fix for the long term will take some resources, which is where the control plan takes over.  A weekly report on the response time to emails will guarantee that the system is working to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Implementing and Documenting a Control Plan

Perhaps the most convenient time to implement a control plan would be immediately after a major process has been enhanced or there has been a key lesson learned. It is at this time that the team is most familiar with the new process and can create the necessary plan to sustain it.

Documenting a control plan is also crucial to is success. Control plans do not need to be complex but do need to be stored in a common location such as the leader’s calendar, which will ensure regular reviews.

Control plans can also be easily implemented in the home as well – give them a try!

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