How to identify an effective Kaizen opportunity in logistics (and beyond)

Posted by Rob Walker, General Manager - Central Operations on 25-Mar-2019 10:20:00
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In business, everyone has their own preferred management style and way of working.  This is particularly relevant within logistics and supply chain management.  No two logistics operations will be the same and, even within the same warehouse, different operations will have specific and differing ways of working.  So, when it comes to change, how do you recognise what’s a good suggestion for improvement and what’s going to waste resources or distract you from achieving your primary goal?

Often multi-skilled workers will be adapting their working methods as they swap between different customers’ logistics operations.  This provides an ideal scenario for identifying Kaizen opportunities and best practices.  However, what works for one person or situation doesn’t necessary work for another.  In this blog, we discuss two simple methods for identifying an effective Kaizen: the 4 Point Checklist and the Benefit Effort Matrix.


4 Point checklist 



           1. Does it improve the safety of the operation? 

           2. Does it improve the quality of the service or product?

           3. Does it improve the delivery of the service or product?

           4. Does it improve the efficiency of the operation?

Supply chain management is complex and intricate, involving all stages of the logistics process from sourcing at origin to handling returns from end-consumers.  This 4 point checklist is a quick check for ensuring your Kaizen is in line with your overall goal. 


 Benefit Effort Matrix

 A Kaizen should be a quick win that can be easily implemented at low cost.  A quick and easy way to think about this is considering the benefit of the Kaizen against the effort of implementing it. 

The Benefit Effort Matrix is a simple decision-making tool to prioritise options that cost the least yet make the most impact and filter out those that are a drain on resource.   Identifying initiatives that fall within the ‘Quick Wins’ and ‘Hard Slogs’ categories will keep you following the underlying principle of Kaizen and can provide instant improvements to your logistics operation.  Although Quick Wins are the ultimate goal when completing the Benefit Effort Matrix, improvements that have a low impact are still important.  This is because the Kaizen approach is focused on incremental innovation -  small, continuous improvement which, over time, lead to a big change.

 benefit matrix

Innovation, on the other hand, focuses on improvements that will have a high impact but also need a high degree of effort to implement.  These are more closely aligned with ‘Major Projects’.  These innovation projects are key to effective supply chain management and will drive the operation forward.  ‘Hard Slogs’ are still important to note when it comes to innovation in supply chain management.  These Hard Slogs could evolve into Major Projects (innovation) or be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks to become Fill Ins (incremental innovation). 


impact effort matrix

Recognising a good Kaizen opportunity is key for the continued success of the approach because implementing initiatives that then fail will have the opposite impact and discourage idea sharing.  That’s why it’s essential to take a step back and assess:    

           1. If the Kaizen is in line with your overall goal using the 4 point checklist.

           2. If the Kaizen will deliver a good return using the Benefit Effort Matrix.

Check back on our Kaizen best practices in supply chain management to keep your improvements delivering their best results.

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Topics: Kaizen

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