Increase Lean Manufacturing Improvements through Business Plan Deployment

In a wide variety of industries, many manufacturers have found that implementing lean manufacturing principles can provide their organizations with a competitive advantage. These companies have seen significant benefits derived from the execution of Lean Manufacturing principles. In most cases, results include the reduction or elimination of waste, higher employee engagement and improved quality and throughput. All of these improved attributes lead to improved customer satisfaction and company performance, such as cost reduction and profitability. 

Most companies may be satisfied with continuing to utilize the lean principles that they have implemented and, through continuous improvement, work to refine and improve their performance within their organization. As a result, further incremental improvements would be gained. But there is a key next step that businesses can take to further drive lean manufacturing improvements and results. That is the implementation of business plan deployment (BPD). 

Before defining BPD and its value and benefits to an organization, let’s first review the basic premise of what lean manufacturing is and the principles associated with it.

The purpose of lean manufacturing is to ensure that:
    • Waste is identified and eliminated,
    • All work efforts are aimed at adding value to the product or service produced,
    • And, most importantly, to ensure that employees are able to perform their tasks in the most efficient manner,
      ensuring that quality products and services are produced.

Lean manufacturing includes five basic principles: people involvement, standardization, built in quality, continuous improvement and short lead time. The length and scope of this article does not allow for a detailed explanation of all of the principles. However, it is important to note that lean manufacturing is a system, with all five of the principles working together to help achieve an organization’s objectives. (See Exhibit 1.)

Exhibit 1: The Five Principles of Lean Manufacturing
Mazzeo Exhibit_1

What is Business Plan Deployment?

BPD is a process that enables the total organization to set targets, integrate plans and remain focused to achieve company-wide priorities while managing change. BPD fits into the lean manufacturing principle of continuous improvement. BPD also has a significant impact on the people involvement principle, as BPD fosters greater employee engagement.

BPD starts by the senior leadership establishing the strategic direction and setting specific goals for the organization to achieve over a period of time. Usually this would be a company’s annual business planning and implementation cycle. While a company may select a wide range of goals, in reality, the fewer and more focused goals that are identified, the better the opportunity for successful cascading throughout the organization and achievement of the objectives. As an example, goals might include:
   • Safety – Achieve Safety Leadership
   • People – Develop an Engaged and Qualified Workforce
   • Quality – Achieve Market Quality Leadership
   • Responsiveness – Meet Customer Demand
   • Cost – Maintain Profitability

For every one of these goals, an overall company performance target must also be established. For these goals, these performance targets become the basis for establishing the supporting metrics to track performance and ensure that goals are achieved.

What’s different about BPD and other business planning processes?

In many operations, the leadership asks all of the functions to develop their annual business plans. As a result, engineering, purchasing, quality and other departments develop and submit their plans. Most likely, after a series of reviews, the individual plans are approved. However, concern can be raised regarding how well the plans integrate, as they should all align to achieving the company’s overall objectives. Many times, individual department plans do not get this kind of cross-functional review. Using the manufacturing organization as an example, it may receive a series of objectives that it needs to achieve in support of the individual departmental plans, but these departmental plans are not all aligned. This can result in manufacturing having to respond and support functional objectives that may be in conflict with each other and do not all directly support the overall achievement of the company’s manufacturing goals and objectives. (See Exhibit 2.)

Exhibit 2: A Non-integrated Manufacturing Plan


An effective BPD process ensures that the entire organization develops, aligns and delivers one plan to the organization. Thus, company leadership has to ensure that:
   • Strategic direction is developed to attain business results using lean manufacturing principles
   • Conflicting issues and objectives between strategies and staffs are prioritized and resolved
   • Specific ownership is assigned to implement and track BPD implementation
   • Business plan initiatives for specific areas such as quality, cost, etc., are developed and achievable
   • Progress and best practices are shared at frequent performance reviews

Staying with the manufacturing example, the plant manager receives one cross-functional, integrated plan for the specific strategies to be executed. This results in better alignment not only at the staff level, but also at the plant where various functions now have one common plan to implement, eliminating conflict and waste. (See Exhibit 3.)

Exhibit 3: An Integrated Manufacturing Plan


Translating the Business Plan Objectives

If you were to ask your employees if they know and understand your company’s objectives, what would they say? Would they be able to communicate how they directly contribute to the achievement of those objectives? Are they able to measure their performance and directly link that to the company’s overall performance metrics? How effectively are top line goals communicated? As an example, what does “Achieve Market Quality Leadership” mean to a production operator?

If the goal and the supporting objectives and plans are not “translated” and converted into the language of the production floor, so that everyone understands how they directly impact and contribute to the achievement of the stated objectives, there is a tremendous loss of opportunity for employee engagement.

BPD allows the organization to “translate” the goal into specific objectives and methods down throughout the organization in a manner that is appropriate to all levels. A method plan includes one or more activities that are planned to achieve the objective, as measured by a specific target. Methods are:
   • The “how” of the annual plan
   • Specific
   • Timed and scheduled on the annual plan
   • Assigned to individuals responsible for carrying them out
   • Supported by detailed action plans

Exhibit 4 illustrates how “Achieve Market Quality Leadership” might be translated throughout the organization. Using Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis (PFMEA) as an example objective, you can see how the associated methods would vary from the vice president of manufacturing down to the production operator.

Exhibit 4: How to Translate Goals Throughout the Organization


Under the area of Responsibility, at the plant manager level there would most likely be several methods associated with the objective of implementing PFMEAs. For the sake of simplicity, only one cascading, related example is used. From the plant manager’s “Implement plan to train and identify operations for PFMEA implementation,” actions now become more defined and specific down through the organization and to the production teams. Using this approach, it’s easier to show how each part of the organization, focusing on improving and working to achieve its objectives, has a direct impact and effect throughout the rest of the organization.

Roles and Responsibilities

Once BPD is established, it is critical that a robust process is in place to ensure that the plan is executed. BPD requires clearly defined roles and a strong support and review process to ensure success. Here are some key responsibilities and actions that need to be in place for an effective BPD process:

Senior Leadership
   • Establish and maintain vision and strategy
   • Help eliminate barriers to BPD implementation and approval
   • Facilitate regular and frequent reviews with a focus on development & achievement of the business plan
   • Assure that countermeasures are assigned, tracked and implemented

Manufacturing Plants
   • Provide leadership to achieve the specific objectives
   • Communicate and rollout the manufacturing initiatives throughout the plant
   • Develop and cascade required supporting objectives and actions
   • Using visual management techniques from Lean Manufacturing, make the business plan visible throughout the
      organization (See Exhibit 5.)
   • Review performance on a consistent basis across all levels of the plant. This is where the engagement of the
      employees comes in and one example of confirmation that management is supporting them. (See Exhibit 6.)

Exhibit 5: Business Plan Deployment Throughout an Organization


Exhibit 6: Review Performance to Engage Employees in Change



An effective BPD process can help provide focus and direction to an organization. By identifying opportunities for improvement, BPD challenges the organization to develop action plans to meet the objectives and establish clear and quantifiable targets to be achieved.

Ultimately, BPD aligns business activities focused on achieving the objectives, deploys resources and tracks performance. The entire BPD process allows for all employees to be fully engaged and contribute to the greater success of the organization.

Joe Mazzeo recently retired from General Motors where he was an executive with broad global experience in manufacturing and quality. He assists small- to medium-sized companies, including medical device manufacturing companies, with lean manufacturing and quality management consulting services. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Integrated Lean and Quality Solutions, LLC