Phase I: Improvement Opportunity
In the modern world, people draw specific attention to the quality of food that they consume. That is why healthy food restaurants are requested among customers, and Panera is one of them. This restaurant has an adequate supply chain because it uses the No-No list to ensure that the ingredients are free from “all artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives” (Jones, 2015, para. 2). This fact contributes to an ethical supply chain, but delays are also possible because the restaurant needs to check whether the products meet its requirements. Thus, it means that this process should be improved, and the given paper will explain how to cope with the task.
Quality Tool Analysis
It is necessary to begin with defining a problem statement. In this case, the issue refers to the fact that Panera supply chain is subject to delays and the use of low-quality products. A root-cause analysis is a suitable option to identify why the problem exists because it draws attention to underlying reasons, rather than to immediate symptoms (Lead Production, n.d.). On the one hand, Jacobs and Chase (2014) state that cause-and-effect diagrams can explain why inefficiencies emerge. This quality tool demonstrates that Panera can suffer from delays because it is necessary to spend time and efforts to check whether the ingredients meet quality standards. If the company decides to neglect this stage, there is an opportunity that it will work with products that fail to meet its No-No list requirements.
On the other hand, it is also rational to use the 5 Why’s method. According to Jones and Despotou (2016), this quantitative tool identifies the reasons for a problem by “repeatedly questioning ‘why’ to an initial problem statement” (p. 132). This approach can also reveal that delays occur because the restaurant needs to test the quality of ingredients, while the omission of this step can expose Panera to the use of unhealthy ingredients. That is why the information above stipulates that the supply chain can significantly benefit from improving its processes. Here, it is required to eliminate the need to check the ingredients without reducing their quality.
While considering a process improvement project, it is rational to draw attention to stakeholder analysis. According to the Mind Tools Content Team (n.d.b), it comprises three steps that include identifying stakeholders, prioritizing them, and understanding how they will respond. Thus, Step 1 of this analysis is to define stakeholders for Panera. Since the given project addresses the issue of delivered goods, it is no surprise that suppliers should be mentioned. In addition to that, Panera employees are also among stakeholders because they will be affected by the improvement project. Finally, customers form another group of stakeholders because the improvement project is designed to attract them.
The power/interest grid above demonstrates how the stakeholders are prioritized (Step 2), which is necessary to present considerations for them (Step 3). According to the picture, this process improvement project means that it is required to keep customers satisfied. It denotes that it is not reasonable to bore them with details of the project (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d.b). Since suppliers have both high power and high interest, it is obligatory to engage these individuals or entities in the project entirely. This group has the most significant impact on the project under consideration. Finally, employees should be adequately informed to ensure that they understand their role to not contribute to further issues (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d.b).
Phase II: Planning and Implementation
Methodologies and Strategies
As has been mentioned above, the goals of the given process improvement project are to minimize the possibility of delays and ensure that the ingredients are of high quality. One can use various methodologies and strategies to achieve the objectives, but it is reasonable to choose a specific option. On the one hand, Panera should start working with professional suppliers. It means that the restaurant chain should shift the focus from individuals to firms because it will increase the quality of ingredients. Furthermore, this step will formalize a relationship between Panera and its suppliers.
On the other hand, ISO quality benchmarking is used to make sure that ingredients are of high quality (Jacobs & Chase, 2014). Kelechava (2016) supports this idea and mentions that this methodology establishes quality requirements. As a result, it will not be necessary to check the quality of products delivered if ISO benchmarking is used, which will solve the issues under considerations. The proposed phenomena are better than their counterparts, including Six Sigma or other processes, because ISO benchmarking and working with companies do not require specific knowledge to solve the problem.
Business Functions under Influence
There is no doubt that the methodologies above will have an impact on Panera business functions. Firstly, logistics will be affected because the plan introduces some changes to the restaurant’s supply chain. Secondly, marketing and sales can also be influenced because Panera will have an opportunity to describe its use of ISO benchmarking as an advantage over its competitors. That is why it is necessary to apply specific tactics to manage implementation across business functions, and it is possible to use appropriate steps to achieve this goal. Bruzzese (2016) admits that communicating priorities is a useful option here because it allows stakeholders to understand the importance of the project. In this case, they will do their best to reach the shared objectives. In addition to that, this process improvement project requires leadership to eliminate any inefficiencies when they emerge. The steps above are also practical because they enhance collaboration and cross-functionality.
The proposed improvement includes a few critical path components that should be preserved. The first step is to find professional suppliers that are ready to meet quality standards. Approximately, it will take a week to find them and identify whether they offer suitable conditions. The second step is to conclude an agreement with the selected companies, which will take another week. The date of the first supply will depend on how these suppliers work. Consequently, Panera will need at least two weeks to improve its supply chain.
Communication is necessary because it makes it possible to consolidate the efforts of all stakeholders. Mind Tools Content Team (n.d.b) mentions that inadequate communication means can have a negative effect on the target audience. That is why it is necessary to use suitable communication strategies. It is rational to apply formal communication channels to articulate the project to suppliers and customers. It is so because official correspondence and media communication are the best ways to reach the stakeholders above (Martic, 2019). At the same time, informal communication channels, including private conversations, are suitable to deal with employees. Consequently, the combination of formal and informal communication channels is a proper strategy because it easily allows to address all stakeholders.
Phase III: Evaluation
Once the process improvement project is created, it is necessary to identify how to evaluate its implementation success. Statistical quality control (SQC) is a suitable option here because it is a set of techniques that are applied to indicate how a firm is meeting its initial specifications (Jacobs & Chase, 2014). In addition to that, SQC “is the quantitative tool for quality improvement” (Leiva et al., 2019, p. 21). This phenomenon draws attention to how much variation, common or assignable, is going to occur. According to Jacobs and Chase (2014), assignable variation can be easily managed, while common one is inherent. For example, Panera can compare the information on how often they identify low-quality ingredients to the data on how many of them will happen in the future. Consequently, the effectiveness of the improvement project will be higher when the two types of variation are decreased.
At the same time, it is rational to comment on specific metrics to evaluate effectiveness. Firstly, it is reasonable to draw attention to the number of delays, if any (Guinan, 2019). If this number is minimized, one can confirm that the project has managed to achieve its goal. Secondly, the number of unsatisfied or complaining customers is another essential metric. Consequently, it is rational to obtain regular feedback from the clients to ensure that there are no significant problems in the restaurant chain. In conclusion, the duration of the project implementation should also be addressed. As has been mentioned, it takes at least two weeks to implement this improvement. However, the project team should regularly monitor to ensure that the problems have been solved. One of the most suitable options is to analyze whether the improvement is useful twice a month.
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