What is Layered Process Audit?
Layered Process Audits (LPAs) are management techniques that are used to ensure that work is completed according to specified standards, to underline the importance of those standards, and to identify areas for improvement. Any stated process inside an organization can be verified using LPAs. The technique and controls used to develop a product or service are referred to as a process. Machines or Equipment, Materials, Methods, Manpower, and Measurement are all parts of a process.
Poor process control or inability to follow the process instructions are frequently the sources of non-conformances such as costly recalls, warranty issues, and customer and employee dissatisfaction. Employees frequently complete process stages in a mundane way. Employees must re-learn and adjust when necessary process modifications are discovered.
LPAs are an organized method of ensuring that work is completed as planned, resulting in better performance metrics. LPAs promote continuing two-way communication between management and process users because they are done at the location where the process is used, which in Lean Management is typically called GEMBA.
These conversations build trust and indicate shared ownership in getting the job done well. The Layered Process Audit is more of a “verification” than an “audit.” It checks that controls are in place and that the standard process is being followed and appropriately implemented. LPA does not belong in a Process Control Plan because it is a verification of control rather than control.
Benefits of Layered Process Audit
Layered Process Audits provide management with the ability to verify process conformity, identify areas of potential process variation, and enhancing Key Performance Indicators over time (KPIs). The conclusions of the study may have a direct impact on the quality of the product that the company sells to customers. Finally, the organizational enhancements will have a favorable impact on business performance.
Following are some of the key benefits of Layered Process Audit:
- Increasing the quality of products and process
- Improvement in customer satisfaction
- Reducing incidences of poor quality (defects, rejection, rework, etc.)
- Increasing the ability to complete tasks on the first trial i.e, Right First Time
- Improvement in process compliance
- Improvement in cash flow
- Measuring and encouraging the standardization of work processes
- Making training and process knowledge more institutionalized
- Updating critical process stages, such as safety standards
- Improving the relationship between plant management and line operators.
- Allowing operators to provide direct feedback to plant management.
- Providing management with the tools they need to take remedial action and strive for continual development.
How many Layers should be used
The name “layered process audit” comes from the necessity that the audit be conducted by numerous “layers” i.e., employees at various levels of an organization. A Layered Process Audit is undertaken by employees ranging from working-level team members to personnel at the highest levels of the organization’s structure, unlike a product audit, which is normally conducted by an operator or a quality department team member. The Planning Team should decide which levels of management within the company will be required to participate in the program.
When senior executives are involved in checking adherence to standards through interactions with front-line staff, it sends a message to everyone in the organization that standards are vital and everyone’s responsibility.
Create your Audit Plan
The name “layered process audits” comes from the fact that the audits are conducted by numerous layers of individuals. Your team will need to establish the layers and the frequency for each tier to construct the audit plan. A typical LPA program consists of three layers:
Layer 1: This layer generally comprises supervisors and team leads who conduct daily audits in all the shifts.
Layer 2: This layer consists of middle management, which conducts weekly or biweekly audits.
Layer 3: This layer consists of Plant managers and executives who conduct monthly, quarterly, or half-yearly audits.
How to Launch Layered Audit Program
After you’ve finished preparing, it’s time to put your plans into action. The following are essential components of a successful rollout:
- Structured planning and follow-up: LPA programs can necessitate hundreds of audits each year. LPA software that is automated minimizes the administrative effort by up to 85%, allowing you to assign audits and set up auto-notifications in minutes.
- Good Communication: Communicating the benefits and expectations of the LPA program is also crucial to its implementation. Emphasize that LPAs aim to work together to uncover problems and build higher-quality, leaner operations, not to assign blame.
- Corrective action: Your LPA efforts will be useless unless you have a closed-loop approach in place to manage non-conformances. Smaller non-conformances should be swiftly closed out and corrective actions assigned on the spot.
Monitor and Continual Improvement in the process of LPA
Analyzing your data and taking action based on your findings is the final step in executing an LPA program. Concentrate on steps such as:
- Instead of waiting for weeks or months to review audit data, do so now while it’s still usable (which is often the case with paper checklists and spreadsheet-based tracking).
- When processes or requirements change, it’s important to update questions and double-check that corrective actions are operating.
- Developing leading measures such as audit completion rates and time to closure for corrective actions by measuring the LPA program itself.
Implementing an LPA program might be difficult, but it has considerable benefits, such as lower quality costs and stronger quality culture. Automated systems make the process easier by removing scheduling and data collection hours and creating a closed-loop procedure that guarantees standards are followed. Since the layered audit comprises different management layers and top management is also involved in the audit. It shows the commitment of top management towards quality improvement and gives confidence to the customer as well.
The sustenance of the program completely depends upon the commitment shown by each layer of management and more and more they are involved it’s better for process improvement.
P.S: What is your view on the number of layers of this audit? Kindly share your comment about the article in the comment section.