Go here to see a video explanation and a free Eliminate Combine Rearrange Simplify Template Download.
One uncommon approach in Lean is the framework of ECRS – Eliminate, Combine, Rearrange, and Simplify. This article explains how to apply the framework followed by a downloadable Work Analysis Template.
Fundamental to understanding any process and eventually generating practical ideas for improvement is to ask the 5W’s and 1H. So, here’s the definition of the 5W and 1H.
What are the 5W?
Put simply, the 5W’s are:
- Who is responsible for this process?
- What is the purpose of this process?
- Why do you do that?
- When does x happen?
What is the 1H?
Of course, it is:
Such as “How is that done?”
These questions, while seemingly simple, are critical to better understanding the process and also the potential opportunities for improvement.
What is ECRS?
In generating practical ideas for improvement, a common and practical framework I’ve used in the past is called ECRS, which stands for the following:
In this step, it’s important to identify the steps that can be quickly eliminated. Where possible, eliminate the details of work.
When work cannot be eliminated, then seek to combine them. In this step, the Combine phase addresses the Who, Where, and When.
Work can also be rearranged.
And, a good rule of thumb regardless of the situation is to simplify anyway. Of course, we want to Eliminate first but, if not, then Combine, Rearrange, and Simplify will be helpful.
The template below shows the following:
- Work Element
- Safety, Distance, Dimension, Quality, Ease
- Why, What, Where, When, Who, How
- Improvement Ideas
- Eliminate, Combine, Rearrange, and Simplify
So, today see how you might be able to apply this simple approach to better understanding your process and in how to improve your processes. Go here to see a video explanation and a free Eliminate Combine Rearrange Simplify Template Download.
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Hugh Alley says
This template is a very helpful one. I am familiar with it from the work by Graupp and Wrona from the Training Within Industry side of things. In the training I do I use this as the key to making improvements in work processes. I love it because it is so understandable and so simple. People “get it” easily and quickly and can put it to use right away.
The full set of questions from the Training Within Industry method has some real value:
– Why is this detail necessary?
– What is the purpose of this detail?
– Where is the best place do do this?
– When is the best time to do this?
– Who is the best person to do this?
– How is the best way to do this detail?
I often add the question “Is this the best point in the sequence?” to the “When” question because it seems to help people interpret the question well.
Also, the TWI approach clearly links the four strategies (ECRS) with the six questions. For example, if you wind up questioning why the step is done or what the purpose is (a tick mark in the first two columns) then you should be looking for a way to eliminate the detail. This turns out to be helpful for people just starting out on the Lean journey.
Gretchen Davenport says
Cool work sheet. We already had a Waste Walk form utilizing the 8 wastes but I like the columns on this with improvement ideas and the type of improvement.
This is another effective gouge checklist aimed at reducing redundant work efforts. However, it makes the classic assumption that most Lean strategies do in that it overlooks an very fundamental question.
“Is the process needed?”
During the initial analysis, an important characteristic of the function or process being “leaned” is whether or not it actually adds value to the organization. Is it congruent to organizational goals? Does it add or detract from other processes that are aligned?
Instead of eliminating only the redundancies, we should also consider eliminating the contradictory or incongruous processes that consume resources and productive time without contributing any productivity toward the strategic goals.
Hugh Alley says
You’re right that this worksheet doesn’t specifically ask “Is the whole process necessary?” The reason for that lies in its roots. The TWI approach was always to help the supervisor do as much as was possible for her within her own control and with as little reference to other parts of the organization as possible. This meant that the supervisor could get on making as many improvements as she could with the equipment, material and people currently available. It is a different starting point, so it doesn’t ask the higher-level question.