Chapter 10. TPM in Administrative and Support Departments. Part 1

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1. The Need for TPM in Administrative and Support Departments

1.1 Why TPM is Needed – the Background

Modern advances in computer and communications technology have created a world in which all kinds of information can be exchanged in real-time all over the globe. This has given added impetus to the diversification of consumer requirements and rapid lifestyle changes taking place in today’s society. An increasing variety of unique products, each with a very short life-cycle, has emerged to meet these demands, making the job of running a business more complicated than ever. In these changing circumstances, the top priority for many companies is to build systems that will allow them to survive and prosper in the face of fierce domestic and overseas competition. All organisations need their own clearly defined business strategy for responding to market trends. Apart from the obvious need to develop new products and bring them to market as quickly as possible, another vital issue for managers is to mark their company out from its rivals in terms of both quality and cost.

It is reckoned that eighty percent of a product’s quality and cost is built into it during its development, design and manufacture. This means that the development, design and other relevant departments must work closely with the production department, providing comprehensive backup to eliminate any waste during production. The production department, meanwhile, needs a system that allows it to make the products ordered by the sales department, on time, and at the levels of quality and cost expected by the development and technology departments. This requires a TPM programme that embraces not just the production department but the entire company, including administrative and support departments.

But if administrative and support staff do not work directly with production equipment, how can they practise TPM? To do this properly, they must do more than just increase the productivity of their own work by reducing waste and errors and creating procedural manuals for their administrative systems. They must also achieve tangible results that make a real contribution to the business, helping to raise the efficiency of the production system through every facet of the organisation’s activities.

1.2 The Role of Administrative and Support Departments

Departments such as planning and development, technology, and production management, do not directly create value in the same way as the production department. However, they must still play their part in helping to reduce costs and improve the firm’s competitiveness. This requires them first and foremost to gather information from the different functional areas of the production system, expertly analyse this information, and provide the necessary assistance and advice to production and other departments. This is the key role of administrative and support staff. Their second duty is to increase their own productivity and reduce departmental costs. Through this, they can help the company to expand strategically in the way it must, if it is to respond more effectively than its competitors to today’s frenetic changes in social and economic conditions. Third, they should use these activities as a basis for building customer confidence and improving the company’s image.

If these responsibilities are to be promoted in administrative and support departments by means of TPM, then each department involved has to think very carefully about its mission, in terms of:

(1) what it must do in order to support TPM activities in production and other departments; and

(2) which issues it must focus on, and how it must deal with them, in order to improve the efficiency of its own organisation.

1.3 The 3 Main Pillars

TPM activities in administrative and support departments must be developed basically through the three pillars of Autonomous Maintenance, Focused Improvement, and Training and Development (see Figures 10.2 and 10.3).

Figure 10.2 System of TPM Activities for Administrative and Support Departments (based on Value Engineering)

Figure 10.3 Setting up TPM Pillars in Administrative and Support Departments

The main pillars for the TPM programme can be established by applying Value Engineering.

Value Engineering – 3 main pillars (6 activities)

1. Autonomous Maintenance

(1) Create basic system and culture
-Environment (hardware): stress-free office environment
-Functions (software): standardised administrative tasks, with zero defects and zero losses

2. Focused Improvement

(2) Improve cost ratio
-Eradicate any imbalances in ratio of costs to sales revenue, e.g. ratio of material costs to sales revenue

-Achieve costs that give competitive edge in the market, e.g. target costs

(3) Expand and enhance departmental functions

−Contribute to the bottom line by restructuring administrative system and functions in your own department, as part of the overall business strategy, e.g:

* Production control that achieves zero over-production
* Procurement system that achieves zero over-buying
* Purchasing merely for procurement Strategic purchasing * Passive marketing Proactive marketing
* Bean-counting Intelligent accounting

(4) Create structures that promote competitive advantage through differentiation

-Construct new and innovative interdepartmental work processes to achieve the speed of response essential for differentiating the company from other firms, e.g:

* Production and marketing systems for eliminating missed opportunities
* Forecasting systems for predicting uncertain demand and taking appropriate decisions * Business management systems for maximising cash flow

(5) Reduce management costs (departmental operating costs)

-Correct any imbalances in the ratio of operating costs (staff costs) to sales revenue by, for example, outsourcing or restructuring

3. Training and Development

(6) Nurture human resources
-Give training in basic skills and multiple competencies
-Develop fields of expertise and specialisation, and create ‘office professionals’

(1) Autonomous Maintenance for administrative functions (inputs)

Building an Autonomous Maintenance system is one of the basic features of TPM, and it is also a key aim of TPM in Administrative and Support Departments. Administrative processes must be controlled through Autonomous Maintenance, so that work tasks can be processed smoothly and efficiently.

This requires a two-pronged approach, addressing both the administrative functions and the administrative environment. As far as functions are concerned, the aim is to improve the administrative quality of work tasks, raise effectiveness and build an administrative system that is economical to run. The administrative environment, meanwhile, must be designed to remove any causes of psychological or physiological problems that employees may experience, by eliminating stress relating to office equipment and conditions, in order to achieve and sustain high levels of administrative efficiency.

(2) Focused Improvement for core work functions (deliverables)

Each department must make every effort to maximise the effectiveness of the core work it currently does, by examining the functions and the systems it uses and eliminating chronic losses. The department’s vision and mission should serve as basic reference points for these activities. Departmental work rarely involves the staff of that department working in complete isolation – more often than not, their work is linked closely to that of other departments. Therefore, we must start by identifying those cross-departmental processes that are likely to benefit most from improvement, and form project teams made up of staff and managers from the relevant departments in order to eliminate losses through Focused Improvements.

(3) Training and Development

Advances in computer technology are revolutionising the way we work, making it essential for companies to equip their employees with excellent information processing skills. A firm will have little chance of surviving, let alone expanding, if employees are left to learn their jobs by watching and imitating others, and then filling in the gaps through their own experience. Rather, it must seek to increase the value of its human assets by educating and training its employees properly. To do this, the company must set up training systems for each occupation and grade, establish the standard knowledge and skills required by each employee, and then draw up a suitable curriculum.

Administrative functions are:
* Functions for processing information (job inputs)
* Functions common to all administrative and support departments, e.g. reading and preparing documents, calculating, etc.

Core work functions are:
* Business functions (job outputs)
* Actions carried out by administrative and support departments that form part of the business and accomplish the objective of creating profits, e.g. achieving targeted purchasing costs and never buying too much or too little of anything.

2. Developing Autonomous Maintenance for Administrative Functions

Wide variations in the time it takes to do a job, tasks that have to be redone and documents that have to be rewritten, missed deadlines, jobs that are neglected if the person directly responsible is out of the office, frequent data entry errors, uneven workloads owing to tasks piling up at the end of the day, week or month … . such problems are an everyday occurrence in administrative work, but despite the fact that they crop up so frequently, they tend to remain unacknowledged.

In production departments, work is controlled down to the last minute or second. Operators are fully aware that any stoppage, however small, creates a loss, and hence they make every effort to eliminate downtime. But in office departments, by contrast, work can be delivered an hour, or even a whole day late, and no-one particularly seems to mind.

In many offices, the work is not standardised, and each individual is allowed to do the task in the way he or she sees fit. Businesses really must become aware of the losses and waste inherent in such ingrained practices, and revamp their administrative setups from top to bottom in order to increase the value of their administrative work. Companies can sharpen their competitive edge considerably by improving employees’ administrative skills in order to create a workforce of excellent administrators, and then making full use of those skills.

Because of these requirements, Autonomous Maintenance is just as important in administrative and support departments as it is in the production department (see Table 10.1 and Figure 10.4).

2.1 How Should Autonomous Maintenance be Applied to Administration?

Establish basic conditions for administrative tasks currently performed within the department, and create standards for these tasks after eradicating all losses and irregularities through restoration and improvement.

(1) Basic approach

1 Establish basic conditions for administrative tasks
2 Create a system for processing administrative information efficiently, without any losses or irregularities.

(2) Establishing basic conditions for administrative tasks means:

1 Establishing the right administrative environment (the physical surroundings)

  • Eliminate mental and physical stress by creating the best surroundings in which to perform the administrative tasks;

2 Establishing the right administrative functions (the intangible aspects)

  • Eradicate all administrative waste, correct any functional deficiencies, and standardise the administrative tasks;

3 Establishing the right administrative skills

  • Create a workforce of excellent, multi-skilled administrators capable of acquiring and utilising expertise in particular fields.

(3) Aims

1) Standardise administrative tasks and maximise their effectiveness (eradicate losses)

2) Raise administrative productivity (specialise, simplify, standardise)

3) Improve customer service (minimise errors, increase usefulness, improve speed of response)

4) Respect individuality (eliminate stress and allow specialisation, so employees develop real enthusiasm for their work)

Table 10.1 New Step-by-Step Development of Autonomous Maintenance in Administrative and Support Departments

Figure 10.4 Characteristics and Potential Problems of Administrative Work

(4) How Autonomous Maintenance differs from Focused Improvement in administrative and support departments

In administrative departments, Autonomous Maintenance and Focused Improvement are fundamentally different. They might appear similar when viewed simply in terms of their results, but the processes and objectives involved are not the same at all (see Figure 10.5).

Administrative Focused Improvement begins with an analysis of the status quo, on the basis of which specific projects and issues are identified and relevant targets are established. Once a target has been reached, that particular activity comes to an end. In administrative Autonomous Maintenance, on the other hand, we do not set out with a particular direction or specific priorities in mind. Rather, our activities are aimed at rooting out all irregularities (including both those that have actually been found to cause problems and those that are theoretically a problem because they represent a divergence from the optimal), using the checking-through-cleaning approach. These irregularities are reversed or corrected, and the resulting procedures are then standardised.

Administrative Autonomous Maintenance therefore does not focus simply on finding particular problems and solving them in order to achieve defined targets, but rather its purpose is to identify and deal with each and every irregularity or imperfection that can be envisaged. Regardless of whether or not these irregularities can actually be rectified, the process of rooting them all out helps to change the way employees see things and greatly improves their administrative skills. In non-production departments, therefore, the objectives of Autonomous Maintenance are to eradicate all irregularities and losses, standardise administrative procedures, and ultimately create a corps of first-rate administrators.

Figure 10.5 How Autonomous Maintenance differs from Focused Improvement in Administrative and Support Departments

*Focused Improvement: Helps to achieve administrative efficiency targets
*Autonomous Maintenance: Aims to create workforce of excellent administrators, through standardisation of administrative tasks

The difference between ‘Administration’ and ‘Core Work’ in administrative and support departments


  •  means job inputs – information processing functions, such as reading, writing and calculating
  •  is expected to generate efficient inputs
  •  relates to third-level or fourth-level work units (WU)‘Core Work’
    •  means job outputs – business functions (e.g. achieving target purchasing costs, and always purchasing exactly what is needed)
    •  is expected to generate profitable outputs
    •  relates to fifth-level or sixth-level work units (WU)

Figure 10.6 Typical Structure of Work Units

(5) Tackling the administrative environment (physical surroundings)

You cannot get on with your work because the photocopier has jammed. Or your computer has brought up an error message and crashed, and you do not know how to fix it. Right in the middle of an administrative task, your feet feel cold and you cannot concentrate on the job in hand. Perhaps the lighting is badly positioned or dim, so you do not get the right light on your work and end up with tired eyes and stiff shoulders. The stationery cupboard is chock-full, but out of the item you actually want. No-one knows where the fire extinguishers are, because they are hidden behind desks and cabinets. What is more, the pool cars are mistreated, no-one ever checks them or changes the oil, and they are always breaking down. People even leave cans, bottles, and other rubbish lying around in them – embarrassing if you have to give a ride to a customer! And the emergency power supply for the computers does not work when needed, so you lose all your data.

Administrative departments often have all sorts of latent ‘hardware-related’ problems like these, which are obvious to everyone, but they carry on without trying to rectify the situation in any way. Solving problems of this kind requires Autonomous Maintenance activities aimed at hardware aspects of the administrative department, such as office equipment, furniture and fittings, (including filing systems), and so on. Teams should be set up to work towards a stress-free office environment in which employees can concentrate fully on their jobs in relaxed and comfortable surroundings. The company must promote improvements in its organisation and working culture that encourage the development of staff with top-rate administrative skills – people who are able to spot abnormalities when they see them, and resolve problems on their own initiative.

If activities like these, aimed at improving the ‘hard’, or tangible, side of things, engender the right organisation and culture, in which people are able to spot abnormalities or problems and deal with them promptly and effectively, then this will also give a great impetus to activities on the ‘soft’, or intangible, side, aimed at resolving work-related problems and achieving skill-related goals. This means that no corners can be cut – the activities should be implemented thoroughly and precisely, down to the last detail.

( Ideally, filing should be tackled along with other hardware issues in Step 1)

Figure 10.8 Hints for Creating a Paperless Office

(6) Tackling the administrative functions (the intangible aspects)

Losses may arise in the administrative functions or procedures employed to get the core work done, or the way that administrative tools are used. All of these must therefore be carefully reviewed, the losses must be eradicated, and the basic conditions must be sustained. The ‘7 Big Administrative Losses’ impairing administrative efficiency can be divided broadly into time losses, quality losses and distribution losses, and it is important to achieve a level of standardisation that excludes the possibility of any such losses occurring.

1 Time losses (losses in processing information)

  •  Various administrative tasks are required at the end of each month, and if these are not done on time, and the relevant reports are handed in late, then this will hold up the important managerial and business decisions that have to be made. These losses can arise in many places – in the time taken to find, process and check the required information, or in the actual process itself.
  •  In an office that does not have a proper filing system, a lot of time will be wasted in filing and archiving, or in finding documents and data and extracting the necessary information. In a situation like this, it is very difficult to process information quickly and efficiently.

2 Quality losses (losses due to inaccurate information)

  •  Memoranda and reports may contain mistakes or omissions, or be worded vaguely and confusingly. This means that they have to be rewritten, or the reader has to make inquiries, which creates time losses.
  •  If the method of compiling reports and data, and the content required (e.g. level of detail, scope of information) is inappropriate, or if the information is not accurate or up-to-date, then a simple rewrite may not be enough to fix the problem.

3 Distribution losses (losses in flow or timing of information)

  •  When documents are left in heaps on desks and other surfaces, the work space becomes cramped and the documents have to be shifted around continually, not only wasting time and effort, but also causing stress.
  •  If we leave unnecessary documents lying around, we cannot make effective use of our space and costs will increase. Also, work-in-progress will tend to pile up, causing delays and blockages in the flow of information and preventing the core work and administrative functions from advancing smoothly.

By eradicating all losses of this kind, we can not only improve individual efficiency and internal departmental efficiency in administrative work, but also ensure that cross- departmental tasks are carried out seamlessly and at a high level of productivity. Based on these solid foundations, we can then build a system that allows the information needed for our business activities to be supplied to the right place at the right time every time.
To achieve this, we must promote the optimisation and standardisation of administrative tasks through Autonomous Maintenance activities aimed at administrative functions. In the process of eradicating administrative losses, we should also be looking to achieve a multi-skilled workforce trained to have excellent administrative capabilities. This will help to create an office system which is easy and pleasant to work in, and which allows people to take time off when it is due to them.

(7) Tips for tackling the administrative functions (the intangible aspect)

Here, the aims are to standardise administrative tasks after eradicating all losses, to correct deficiencies and improve the quality of the administrative functions, and to build a workforce with first-rate office skills (i.e. highly motivated staff who are creative and have the capacity to acquire special skills and get the job done). Activities focused on administrative work and filing are a very important part of this. Ideally, filing should be tackled in Step 1.


  1. Clarify the administrative structure and carry out an analysis of the manpowerrequired at the administrative level (third and fourth-level work units).
  2. Identify the worst administrative tasks (the ones that take up the most labour hours), pinpoint the problems with these, and find countermeasures.
  3. Detecting (tagging) problems makes administrative tasks visible. Do a Makigami (paper roll) Analysis using all the slips, chits, vouchers, memos and other documents currently in use, so that everyone can visualise the work flow. Enlist the help of people not directly involved in the process to compare the current situation with how things really ought to be, in order to reveal any problems, doubts or other issues.
  4. When administrative problems arise, their causes are not isolated to the processing methods used in a particular department. They may also occur because rules in other departments, or interdepartmental rules, are not being followed, and therefore action must be taken straight away to deal with the causes of these problems.
  5. Although we must standardise administrative tasks once we have eliminated the imperfections, we cannot stop there. We have to instil routine good practice, so that staff automatically do their jobs the right way.

Figure 10.10 Tackling the Administrative Functions

2.2 Improving Administrative Efficiency through Makigami (Paper Roll) Analysis

(1) What is Makigami Analysis?

  1. Administrative tasks are usually hard to identify. The Makigami method makes these tasks clearly visible by taking the actual forms, slips and other documents used in administration work and sticking them on a long roll of paper, to illustrate the flow of work.
  2. Using the paper roll, anyone, from the person directly responsible to managers and staff from other relevant departments, can tell at a glance what is going on. This helps them to identify problems and suggest improvements.

Makigami Analysis is an improvement tool for raising efficiency in administrative tasks. It embodies the down-to-earth, nuts-and-bolts approach that is the central philosophy of TPM, and its basic premise is to make administrative work seen and understood.

Translator’s Note: ‘makigami’, which means ‘rolled-up paper’, is compounded from the Japanese words ‘maki’ (rolling up) and ‘kami’ (paper).

(2) Advantages of Makigami Analysis

The actual objects (i.e. forms) used in the administrative work processes are stuck to a roll of paper, in sequence with the work flow. This makes it a highly graphic improvement tool with the following advantages:

  1. Even outsiders can understand it easily, so it is highly suitable for general display.
  2. Issues can be examined on the basis of a common understanding of the situation, with relevant departments and staff members fully involved.
  3. The opinions of disinterested parties can also be incorporated, to help generate really original improvement ideas.

(3) Definition of Makigami Analysis

Makigami Analysis involves a series of improvement activities carried out by internal department staff and members of other relevant departments. They all meet together to:

  1. Understand the workflow using the paper roll as a tool, with the aim of raising administrative efficiency and strengthening administrative functions (both internal and interdepartmental);
  2. Expose problems and discuss possible improvements and solutions;
  3. Implement improvements.The results of these improvements serve to increase administrative efficiency and strengthen administrative functions both within each department and across different departments.

(4) Key points of Makigami Analysis

  1. ‘Reproduce’ the administrative work by using the actual forms, memos and data used.
  2. Spot where to make improvements and come up with concrete improvement proposals, always keeping your eyes peeled for WUS (waste, unevenness and strain) and the 7 Big Administrative Losses.
  3. Bear in mind at all times that the aim is to improve both intra- and inter- departmental efficiency, and strengthen administrative functions. Implement improvements that are based on the facts.
  4. Do not stick just to intra-departmental improvements. Rather, look to raise efficiency in a way that contributes to ‘raising overall effectiveness’ as defined in TPM.

Chapter 10. TPM in Administrative and Support Departments. Part 2

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