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Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management



A solid system to collect, manage and use data must be the foundation of all improvement efforts and
investment decisions in the factory. It is a critical element of the hoshin kanri process. We use data
collection and management methods, systems and tools to establish an operating baseline, for ongoing
performance tracking, and for financial modelling to:

 Identify opportunities for improvement and establish performance targets

 Support on-going learning, continuous improvement, and to track trends over time
 Simulate the impact of decisions and economic conditions, like wage increases or incentive
plans changes
 Help measure and understand the impact of changes and opportunities for improvement
Both qualitative and quantitative data are essential to understand what is happening in the factory.
“Quantitative” data is measured and often tells you ‘what’ is happening; “Qualitative” data is observed,
perceived, felt, or described by someone, providing further insight into the numerical information
collected often revealing ‘why’ something is happening. Typically, we need both qualitative and
quantitative data to gain an understanding of a situation or problem.

Collecting, analyzing and interpreting data is critical to creating a skilled, stable and engaged workforce.
Strong data systems can help a factory determine what to invest in to increase performance, the causes
behind problems, and the impact that could result from implementing specific changes.

Rigorous data collection will help prioritize the areas to focus on for performance improvement, and will
help identify which activities would be most likely to have the greatest impact. Data will support fact-
based decision making.

By collecting data you can make fact-based

investment decisions, and will have a way to
measure the results of your performance
improvements efforts.

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

With strong data systems and financial modeling in place, we can:

 The root cause of barriers to Team Member productivity, management systems and
behavior, or process optimization.
 The areas of opportunity for productivity improvement
 Which activities could have the greatest impact on performance
 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to establish baseline data that will be used to
measure program changes against goals
 Opportunities to improve factory performance from a holistic, systems perspective
 The impact of the programs on performance and wellbeing, by tracking changes in
KPIs over time, as activities are implemented
 Financial impacts at the line level
 Trends in KPIs over time

There are two main processes related to data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

In the first process, data is used to explore opportunities, and design interventions. During
this process, problems are investigated, and information is collected that will be used to
determine actions and design countermeasures.

Then, once the countermeasures have been implemented, the second process is used to
measure the impact of the countermeasures on performance. These two processes are
discussed separately below.

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management


The steps in the “Explore Opportunities and Design Countermeasures” process are shown
in the graphic and described below.

Figure 1 Steps in the “Explore Opportunities and Design Countermeasures” Process


Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

In this step, design a plan for how you will collect the data. Keep in mind that the quality
and detail of the planning process will affect the data collection, analysis and
interpretation outcome. Follow these guidelines:

a. Decide on a topic to investigate

o This could be based on a performance gap that was identified in production,
an HR problem like absenteeism, or a new issue to explore such as
investigating how to meet Team Member health care needs or responding to
complaints about the canteen
b. Determine a question or idea to test; for example:
o Production performance is low due to poor skills training
o Unplanned absenteeism is due to lack of reliable childcare
o What are the main health-related barriers to Team Member performance?
o Is the on-site health clinic meeting Team Members’ health care needs?
c. Determine the scope of investigation
o Identify which populations to focus on and gather data from
 Determine which are representative
 Identify the target audience
o Agree on sampling, if surveying a population
o Determine what period of investigation is reasonable and desirable
o Calculate how long it will take to collect the data, and whether or not that
time frame is reasonable and acceptable
o Decide which alternative explanations to the research questions should be
d. Define measurements and decide which ones to collect, based on the research
question or chosen topic
o If examining production performance and skills training, select the best
metrics for these
 Output or production efficiency
 Training quality
 Skill levels
 Other possible causes of low production performance
e. Determine when, how often and with what methods the data will be collected,
based on the topics

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

f. Decide how you will collect the data

o This is an opportunity to check Team Members’ understanding, and to listen
and respond to ideas or concerns they may have specific to data collection
and program objectives.
o You may chose to use digitical systems for data collection, either passive
collection that is digitcally monitored, like how many minutes have passed;
or active collection, where a person uses a technological tool, such as a smart
phone, to record an action like how many units they have completed at their
station on the line. Some third-party companies already provide digital data
collection services to factories. This vastly increases the accuracy of the data,
the speed of analysis, the ability to reach the workforce, and the ease of
making insights that compaing people and line data.
o It is ideal to link the people-data and the line-data in one database, or excel.
This allows you to look at correlations of the activities of supervisors with
productivity, for instance.
g. Communicate about the intention of the data collection to those who are being
asked to collect data, to answer questions, to manage, or to analyze data
h. Develop a communications plan for sharing results of data colletion and the expected
plan of action for the results
o This should not predetermine the results; it will show those involved that you
aim to use the data to its fit purpose: To improve factory performance
i. Ensure that the defintions of the data are agreed upon, and properly understood by
all members of the team, so that data is collected and recorded in the same way

Based on the plan developed in step 1, communicate the intention of data collection to
those that are being asked to collect the data, to answer questions about it, to manage it,
and to analyze it.

According to the agreed upon plan, collect and record the data:

a. Collect the data, following plan guidelines

b. Record data, including KPIs and event log entries
c. Check for completeness and accuracy

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

d. Investigate anomalies, which may or may not be due to mistakes in data collection,
and can be investigated
 Graphing data often helps to identify anomalies
e. Cross check information
 Confirm that data collected from different sources or using different
methodologies aligns with each other
 If it does not agree, determine if it is due to an error in data collection or if it
is an interesting finding


Examine and evaluate the data to understand what it means.

a. Summarize the data

o Identify relationships between variables
o Compare the difference between variables and forecast outcomes
b. Categorize, tabulate and re-combine data if necessary to find evidence that
addresses the question or hypothesis that is being studied
c. Identify patterns and trends in the data
d. Proceed in a non-linear fashion
e. Perform multiple iterations if necessary to get a deeper understanding


Discuss and attach meaning to the data analysis.

This is the process where numbers and words become meaningful information that helps
decision making become more effective.

a. Question data results to see what they mean in relation to the ideas being evaluated
b. Look for possible links between countermeasures and results that could indicate
cause and effect
 If a link is suspected, look for corroboration from other results, and seek
other points of view or to confirm or deny the relationship
c. Look for correlations between events recorded in the event log, and trends in the
data; although this does not necessarily imply cause and effect

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

d. Make recommendations or an action plan based on data analysis results and



Depending on the nature of the problem or performance gap, and what is found out
during the first phase of data collection, analysis and interpretation, it may be
appropriate to apply a root cause analysis approach.

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a term that describes a wide range of approaches, tools and
techniques used to uncover causes of problems:
 This approach solves problems by attempting to identify and correct the root
causes of events, as opposed to simply addressing their symptoms
o By focusing correction on root causes, problem recurrence can be
 Data collection and analysis may initially focus on the symptom of a problem, but
RCA identifies a system of causes and effects that lead to an incident, usually
following this path:

o Visible problem is identified  first level cause  second level cause 

deep understanding of the root cause of a problem

 Root Cause Analysis is an iterative process

o The first round of data collection and analysis is likely to uncover
previously unknown information which can be explored further through
subsequent rounds of data collection
 For example it may become clear that some measurements are
more useful or reliable than others, or new variables emerge that
are important to measure in order to answer the research
o It may require several cycles of collection, analysis, and interpretation of
the data before you arrive at the root cause of a problem
 A second, third, or fourth wave of data collection allows deeper
and more focused investigation of the problem under

 Some common RCA tools are:

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

o Cause mapping
o 5 Whys
o Fishbone diagram
o Change analysis
o Focus Group Discussions

Countermeasures can now be designed based on a thorough investigation of the
problem to be addressed, rather than assumptions, politics or other drivers.

Considering resource constraints and other factors, design countermeasures based on

the collected, analyzed and interpreted data. Involve and engage the Team Members in
the design of the countermeasures. Given the collected data, the team can determine
which countermeasure will have the highest potential impact.

Factors to consider when deciding which countermeasures to implement are:

 Team member needs and priorities
 Cost
 Benefit
 Practicality
 The relationship between people-centered data and process data
 Resources available, including skill sets of factory personnel
 The amount of time it will take to implement the countermeasures, and the
lag time, or amount of time before results will be seen
 Resistance to change due to cultural or other reasons
 The availability of any partners needed to implement change and their cost

Share key data findings and interpretations, and decisions made based on this
information regarding the countermeasures that will be implemented.

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

Once a countermeasure (CM) or program has been selected and designed it is important to
measure it’s impact so that you can evaluate the Return on Investment (ROI) for that
countermeasure or program.

The steps for evaluating impact are illustrated then described below. Overall, you will
establish a baseline for at least three months of data. To do this, follow steps 1-7 below.
From that point forward, you re-do steps 1-5, and those are your result data thatwill show
changes in line productivity, engagement and well-being, and other KPIs.

Figure 2 Measure the Impact of Countermeasure - Process Steps

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

Select the Key Performance Indicators that are appropriate for the countermeasure that
will be implemented. Get agreement from all parties involved, on the definitions of the

See steps 1c – 1g of the Explore and Design process above.

Collect data, including KPIs and Event Log entries, according to the data plan.

See Step 3 of the Explore and Design process above.

Examine and evaluate the data to understand what it means.

See Step 4 of the Explore and Design process above.


Discuss and attach meaning to the data analysis.

When interpreting the data, we found that it was important to compare improvements
against baseline and to compare improvements over different periods of time.
Depending on the quality of the information, flow rate changes, external events,
seasonal and other factors, you may need to choose which is the better basis for
comparison in your factory: Baseline or specific time periods.

See Step 5 of the Explore and Design process above.

The first round of data collection, analysis, and interpretation may highlight new
information which indicates the need to adjust the particular KPIs that you wish to use to
measure the impact of a particular countermeasure. At this time, KPIs can be changed;
new ones can be added or existing ones can be dropped.

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

If you do decide to change the KPIs, another round of data collection is required.

If the first phase of data analysis and interpretation allows you to conclude that you did
initially select the correct benchmarks, then you can go straight to the next step,
establishing a baseline.

Share data findings and interpretations from results of countermeasures.

At least three months of data collected consecutively are preferred to establish baseline.
An ideal length of time is one year, as this helps us understand impactsof seasonality. If
during this period, there are product changeovers, seasonality changes, re-tooling,
significant changes in fill rate or model, or other disruptions, you may need a longer
period of time to establish a reliable baseline.

Once you are confident that you have selected the appropriate metrics for
measurement, you can establish a baseline, or intitial level, for the KPIs before the
countermeasure is implemented. This is a critical step, and once established, will be the
standard against which future progress is measured.

Before establishing a baseline, there must be a

high level of confidence that data collection
methods are accurate, integrity has been
maintained, and the agreed-upon KPI
definitions have been followed.
This can be confirmed through regular direct observation in the shop floor.

The KPIs are then tracked as follows:

 From the baseline; pre-countermeasure or pre-program
 During the countermeasure itself
 Afterwards, or post-countermeasure or program

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

By comparing pre and post-countermeasure KPI data it is possible to infer a correlation,

and in a few rare cases a cause and effect, between the countermeasure and the
resultant change in KPIs.

If it is determined that the first round of data collected in the Explore and Design process
is meaningful, reliable, and applicable, then it may be possible to skip several steps and
establish a baseline earlier, from this data.

In some cases an exploratory phase is not implemented for reasons of budget, time or
lack of perceived need, in which case, more careful planning and initial data collection,
analysis, and interpretation is required before establishing a baseline.

During the baseline establishment phase, your team may decide that it is appropriate to
set targets around certain KPIs. However, in some cases it may not be appropriate to set
targets until more is known about the context and problem.


Implement the countermeasure according to the planned design, and the results of the
exploratory phase, if conducted.

Collect the KPIs associated with the countermeasure.

See Step 3 of the Explore and Design process above.


Examine and evaluate the data to understand what it means.

See Step 4 of the Explore and Design process above.


Interpret the KPI data.

See Step 5 of the Explore and Design process above.

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

Based on interpretation of the data, adjust the countermeasure as necessary.


An iterative, continuous improvement cycle begins of data collection, analysis,
interpretation, countermeasure adjustment, and data collection post adjustment.

Repeat Steps 8 – 11 as needed.

In total, quality data collection and management practices will enable appropriate decision
making on how to improve performance, know impact, and tell the story. Specific outcomes

 Decision-making informed by different types of data drawn from multiple sources

 Robust, timely data collection, and clearly defined KPIs
 Regular and ongoing recording of KPIs
 Validated data
 Understanding of links between people, process and leadership activities within Lean
 Root causes of problems are understood
 Accurately recorded and addressed problems
 Data is used to inform shop floor management systems and decisions, to reduce
downtime, improve quality, improve performance, engagement and well-being, and
progress towards fair wages
 Accurately measured ROI on Team Member-related programs through analyzing
profitability per line or direct labor per unit
 Quality data processes that enable appropriate decision-making
 Rationalized performance targets and baselines

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management

With a solid system in place to collect, manage and use data, we expect to see significant
improvement in the accuracy of data. As confidence in the data improves, how data is used to
drive decisions within the factory should also improve. The confidence of management and TMs
in knowing how their factory is running will also be a benefit.

Prerequisites Reference PDF SM&S Labor Prerequisites and guidelines for good
data collection procedures before data
collection begins
Getting Started Reference PDF SM&S Labor How to get started with data collection
and analysis
Principles for Working with Reference PDF SM&S Labor Discussion of the importance of integrity,
Data rigor, and involving Team Members in
data collection
Performance Links Reference PDF SM&S Labor Examples of factors that affect
performance, and the importance of data
in evaluation of those factors
Methodologies for Data Reference PDF SM&S Labor Overview of four methodologies used for
Collection data collection
Process and Tips for Data Reference PDF SM&S Labor Process guidelines and tips for successful
Collection data collection based on Nike experience
in the factories
Process and Tips for Data Reference PDF SM&S Labor Process guidelines and tips for successful
Analysis data analysis, based on Nike experience in
the factories

Process and Tips for Data Reference PDF SM&S Labor Process guidelines and tips for successful
Interpretation data interpretation, based on Nike
experience in the factories

Financial Model Overview Reference PDF SM&S Labor Overview and instructions for using the
model used to measure the impact of
changes or activities
Financial Model Template Template Excel SM&S Labor Financial Model Template, used to track

Lean Playbook Data Collection and Management


KPI Tracking Template Template Excel SM&S Labor Template used for tracking KPIs used to
measure impact of changes
KPI Tracking Example Example Excel SM&S Labor Example of how KPI’s were tracked in an
Apparel factory
Roles and Responsibilities for Reference PDF SM&S Labor Suggested responsibilities for participants
Data Collection and with respect to data collection and
Management analysis
Communication Reference PDF SM&S Labor Overview of key communications related
to Data management, and its importance
Communication Plan Template PPT SM&S Labor Template used for planning timing,
Template audience, and purpose of key
Communication Plan Example Example PDF SM&S Labor Example of a communication plan from
an Apparel factory
KPI’s and Data Definitions Reference PDF SM&S Labor Data and KPI definitions to ensure
consistency; special sections on wage
data and the event log
Data Collection and Reporting Reference PDF SM&S Labor Best practices for timing and frequency of
Cadences data collection and reporting
Data Types Reference PDF SM&S Labor Discussion of quantitative and qualitative
data types, and the importance of each
Ensuring Data Integrity Reference PDF SM&S Labor Guidelines for safeguarding data integrity
Lean HRM Metrics Training Training PPT SM&S Labor Powerpoint presentation used in training
Material session with factory management on Lean
HRM metrics and data collection