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Maybe you have a day by hour chart, or sales plan vs. actual sales data and you want an easy way to decide when to take action - consider the simple Cumulative Deviation. First you need some data, two variables that you want to compare.  Here in this spreadsheet example we have Plan and Actual for eight time periods.

Value stream analysis is an effective way to identify improvement opportunities within a product or service family’s value stream, envision a leaner future state and develop an actionable value stream improvement plan to achieve the future state. It's bread and butter stuff for the lean practitioner. Most folks are well acquainted with the value stream map’s lead time ladder. And many people are familiar with the concept of rolled throughput yield.

Plan Versus Actual Math

The plan versus actual chart is one of the most powerful and simple visual process performance metrics. In fact, it’s a sort of Swiss Army knife of charts in that it not only provides insight into process performance but, by the virtue of its comment field, begs and shares information as to when and why there is a variance from plan. Ultimately, it is about problem identification. The chart is often positioned at the pacemaker process or at the output end of a line or cell (which can be the same thing).

Pick’s Theorem is a simple way to calculate area. This theorem is particularly useful when calculating the reduction of square feet (or square meters) that was achieved by improving a process layout. To use Pick’s Theorem, overlay a sketch of the area that you want to calculate onto a square grid of points. The grid of points should be fine enough that any bend on the boundary coincides with a grid point.

Let’s suppose there are three BIG potential orders in your sales pipeline. What are your chances that you are going to win an order? This is a question that faces manufacturing and service industries all the time. If they chase too much business, they run the risk of winning the business and not being able to fulfill the request but if they don’t chase any business, they run the risk of being idle.

Plan-Do-Check-Act is the key learning cycle that is at the foundation of lean thinking. But how do you make a good plan, and more specifically, how do you estimate how long the tasks in the plan will take?

If you have historical data, or you can accurately estimate the work content, the task of estimating task duration is very straightforward. But if you are doing something you have never done before, estimating the task duration can be very challenging.

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