I have spent a lot of time trying to talk people into going paperless on the shop floor, but perhaps they are on to something. They are wearing me down and I’m starting to believe that perhaps going paperless is overrated. Let’s spend some time analyzing this choice and see if I can talk myself out of going paperless.
There is something to be said for leaving “good enough” alone—we minimize risk!
Risk is not a good thing. We teach project managers about assessing and mitigating risk. We have formal methods of analyzing risk like Failure Mode Analysis and I have a feeling that changing the way we do business is a risky business indeed.
We have done business like this for years. Why change now? We better have a really good reason. The current systems have their problems, but at least we know the problems. A new paperless process could create new problems. Who knows what kind of new problems? How can we know what we don’t know? But we do know that it will be different and different is not necessarily better. Could be better, but could be worse… right? I guess it depends on how bad things are now. But how bad could they be. After all, we have been doing it this way for years.
If we change our processes, we will have to change all our procedure books and we will have to train everyone. It took me ten years, but I was finally getting the hang of our current processes. You want me to learn it all again? Our shop floor people are used to the current way and I am not sure they can learn new ways. Do we want to risk it? They might file a bunch of complaints.
What do those manufacturing “engineers” know anyway? They want me to read THEIR work instructions, but I keep my own notes in my locker. I have been doing this job for years and I know all the little tricks to putting this assembly together. Check this out… I have all my notes written in the margins of this old drawing. They want me to forget my notes and use their recommendations, but they hardly come down here to see how we put it all together.
The few things we do today on these old computers take forever. I don’t see how asking us to do more on the computer is going to make things faster. Do you want me manufacturing? Or typing on the computer? The paper doesn’t make me wait. If I make a mistake, I can just throw the form away and start over. Or I can strike over what I wrote, initial it, and do it again.
We do lose some paper documents once in a while or something gets damaged, but it rarely happens. Nobody ever really goes back and checks the paper. Except for that one audit a year ago. That auditor was so frustrated going through all the paper that he probably does not want to come back : ) If we make it easier to audit historical records, we might get audited more often.
What if the computers go down? It happens, right? Are we going to print paper “just in case”? If we do, what is the point? What are we saving?
We have an amazing IT guy. He can do whatever we need using spreadsheets. We have different spreadsheets for different things. Different managers like to do their numbers differently and we often have to adjust the numbers we get from the shop floor. Some days are better than others, but we don’t want people panicking over a bad day. As long as the average for the week is okay—it’s all good.
I am not sticking my neck out on this new project. What if it fails? I am not sure my manager is fully behind this idea either. After all, he was instrumental in putting the current processes in place.
Even if we want to do this project, everyone is so busy. Who is going to work on this project? You know what happens to people on special projects when we need to reduce the workforce.
Where is the money going to come from? Perhaps we should be buying new machines instead. We are all going to be replaced by robots someday soon, so why bother trying to make us more productive?
They are looking at a commercial off-the-shelf software solution. I don’t know why when our IT guy can probably write a program specific to our needs in one or two weeks. He might be able to do it working during his lunch breaks. Why should we spend the money on a commercial product?
What if the project works? I could get stuck assigned to doing this type of project all over again at another site. That would mean a lot of travel and I don’t like to travel.
What do you say? Do you really want to change the way you are doing business? Or do you agree we should leave “good enough” alone? Is there any risk in the “do-nothing” choice?