• Sara Hanks

"Getting A Lift With Poka-Yoke"


I had a conversation recently with a colleague about process accountability. We discussed a process that involves doing research to figure out how to make the best decision. People were failing to follow the process, the job turnover rate is high and the metrics were showing it.


I find it strange that with business processes, people are expected to do their job 100% accurate, 100% of the time. Training and communication are relied upon to resolve defective parts or process issues. Humans make mistakes and communications can be missed. Over the years, better practices have been adopted to prevent issues from happening in the first place. A good example is the practice of Poka-Yoke, mistake-proofing.

When I worked on the shop floor, some parts needed to be transported to another building for assembly. Skids would cradle the parts on the jitney for delivery; however, if the jitney driver was going too fast and hit a bump, the parts would tumble out of the skid. Following the practice of Poka-Yoke, a new skid was designed that would prevent the parts from tumbling out if the driver was going too fast or hit a bump.


Transactional systems and workflows are the process form of Poka-Yoke. By putting a process into a workflow system, the workflow enforces the process and creates a mechanism to monitor the process. Many processes can be managed with existing online applications, such as inventory management, scheduling, purchase orders, and defect management. Microsoft 365 offers applications that make it easy to create workflows, such as Forms and Power Automate.


Why not reduce the risk of human mistakes? Take advantage of Poka-Yoke and workflow based processes with applications. After all, I bet there's an app for that!


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