Do you know the value of an ROA or even what it is?

By Jim Wegeleben
Senior Industrial Engineer

Do you feel like something is broken in your operation, like basic weekly operational communication from the organization to your managers doesn’t exist? For example: Do you wonder why the grocery crew is processing the load the way they are? Or why your front end checkout lines are always long and there is no one to call up for help? Or why the backroom seems disorganized every time you go through it? Are you starting to feel like your company is just on “AUTO PILOT”? You know what I mean right? The lights are on but no one is home!

So, if your business asked if your store could be used as a PILOT store to conduct an ROA, what would you say? I imagine the first thing may be, “An ROA, what is that?” Right?

Well let me tell you, an ROA – “Rapid Opportunity Assessment” – is an engineering approach to understanding opportunity for improvement. You can gain insight into what happens in your stores, allowing you to make critical decisions to provide the best shopping experience for your customers and promoting the best working conditions for your employees while maximizing profits. This approach is a quick way for any business to assess the efficiency of their business.

Let’s look at what components a typical ROA consists of.

First is a Utilization study; this reveals the percentage of time an associate is working on productive and non-productive work. This part is mainly done using iPads that captures where an employee is and what they are doing. The idea is to capture every employee every day, 24/7 for a two to four-week period. This data is used to show the percentage of who is doing what and when. For example: customer service, task work, stocking, breaks, preparing and cleaning. The tasks an employee does to complete their job function.

Second is identifying Workplace Organization and Methods; this compares current work methods used to complete work with industry preferred methods and validates if 5-S workplace organization is in place to sustain. This can be done in two parts. The first is using Method Surveys, by department, to help identify current methods used by employees. They are compared to industry typical methods, and then a calculation is made to identify any potential labor savings. The second is doing a 5-S survey by department to help identify if 5-S organization is present and if it is being sustained. The foundation to a preferred method is Workplace Organization and the sustainable process for this is a good 5-S program.

Third is Employee Performance; this identifies the skill and effort an employee uses when performing work. This part does not have a huge impact on an ROA but can reveal areas of an operation that potentially could be road blocks and need to be addressed. You can imagine trying to improve the unloading and stocking process but find out that the employees perform with little skill and exert little effort. You may say that is the problem in the operation but actually it is just a cause and the problem is the methods used.

And finally the fourth is Management Effectiveness; this is conducted through personal interviews and shares the tools and techniques that managers use. This part includes one-on-one interviews with your managers to understand the processes in place they have to manage employees.

With the completion of these assessments, you will find what areas of your operation need attention in respect to non performing tasks, drill into work methods that will improve labor performance, see the level of skill and effort the average employee represents and understand your management effectiveness. The bottom line is all of these are quantified and you see the impact to potential labor savings. The benefit is that you know what to do to improve your employees’ day to day working environment. Remember, a happy employee is an efficient worker.

This post is also available in: Spanish