Born from the widespread adoption of lean principles, the manufacturing best practice playbook has become a staple tool for many multi-site businesses. Like any tool, how they are used directly correlates with their effectiveness.

The aim of creating a playbook is simple: to accelerate resource efficiency and cost savings by ensuring proven good practices are shared in a way that saves duplication of effort and promotes creation of a consistently high standard.

Like any tool which has been developed in-house, the way in which playbooks are created, maintained, and used is far from standardized, but there are often shared components.

“At Manufacture 2030, we're working with a broad range of manufacturing businesses, often helping to refresh the way their playbooks are maintained and implemented through our M2030 bee.”

– Nick Donoghue - Operations Director, Manufacture 2030

Based on this experience, we have developed 5 top criteria that we think will help to implement your resource efficiency playbook.

1. Solid entry criteria

Once you start creating a playbook, it’s relatively easy to start stuffing in every bit of possible good practice you come across. Defining what and how best practices end up in your playbook is really important.

Here are a couple of points to consider for your entry criteria:

I. Is it actionable?

A lot of the established playbooks end up with great material inside, but not all of it is actionable. Theory and discussion are important, but could someone in your business actually implement each section of your playbook? If not, it might be time to review and trim it.

II. Does the content align with your business’ targets?

 If your playbook doesn’t align with your internal and public targets, you’re missing a trick. Ensuring that your playbook offers a route to achieving your targets increases the chance of it being utilised. Alignment can also create a clear message within the business that using the playbook will be supported by appropriate investment where required.

III. Consistent quality and format

It might feel painful but creating a consistent expectation for format and quality will help future uptake and use among your colleagues. We’d suggest setting some basic benchmarks like expectations for data provided (results of projects, ROI, etc.), and providing a template format for anyone wishing to add things to your playbook.

Finally, consider who can help you set the entry criteria?

To secure the support of your colleagues, you might find that asking for their input regarding the creation or selection of new playbook entries engenders a feeling of shared ownership and is very powerful. 

2. Ease of use

Relying on one 100+ page slide deck, or an unindexed SharePoint drive full of case studies, as your playbook doesn’t bode well.

Your playbook should, at the very least, be indexed in a way that makes sense to the end user (whose knowledge may differ from your own), accessible and easy to find. We’ve seen lots of great playbook content buried in the recesses of an intranet - so no wonder it doesn’t get used…

Even if the playbook is your brainchild, take a step back and try to answer the following from the perspective of other users:

  1. Would I know where to find the playbook?
  2. Is it clearly signposted?
  3. Can I find specific actionable information in it quickly and easily?

If your answer to any of the above is ‘no’, you probably fail the ease of use test.

3. Maintain and grow

While most businesses have established a good process to determine what information is added to their playbooks, we haven’t come across many who have a simple and effective process for maintaining and updating it.

There are two main parts to this:

  1. Keeping the scope or set of actions/projects in the playbook in line with the latest projects and technologies, and
  2. Expanding the knowledge/data for each part of the playbook.

There are pitfalls in each of these areas. For example, if you mandate updating playbook knowledge and data, often the most capable teams shoulder the majority of the work, and you end up slowing them down and annoying them simultaneously. Not a good result.

Set some fair expectations, and try to balance the workload out across the wider team. For example, should each site team be expected to update one playbook action per quarter?

Can you rotate the review of playbook actions and projects between different stakeholders, consequently sharing not only ownership but also the workload?

4. Tracking uptake

Like any tool, a playbook is no good if it is not being used. You will only truly know its worth if you understand who is using it and how.

If the playbook’s content aligns with your business’ targets, tracking uptake might be an essential component of reporting compliance.

Whether you use a manual process or you’ve developed a more advanced method, tracking the use and rates of uptake for your playbook is fundamental to its long-term success and impact. 

To do this, many playbook actions are  divided into ‘must do’ and ‘nice to do’ categories - mandatory and aspirational. It's probably the simplest starting point for tracking uptake.

5. Support it with resources and investment

If you have a good set of entry criteria controlling in the content of your playbook (see above!), you should have a strong internal case for backing the teams who want to progress items from it with resources – be that capital or skills.

If your playbook outlines the best practice which should be implemented at each of your sites, then not giving colleagues a fast track route to achieve these goals is only going to cause resentment.

Before setting 'must do' actions within your playbook, ensure you're have appropriate resource ready to support uptake.

Nick Donoghue, Operations Director for Manufacture 2030.

If you’re keen to create a new best practice playbook to take your resource efficiency to the next level, do get in touch or sign up for our newsletter to receive similar content.