Introduction to Task Assessment
Onboarding sets the stage for an employee’s experience within an organization. Done well, onboarding gives a new employee all the tools and information needed to succeed in a new role. Done poorly, incompletely, or totally ignored (all too common!), an employee can be set on a path of chronic frustration and underperformance. The positive or negative effects generated by the onboarding process – or lack thereof – are experienced by both the employee and the employer or manager. Thus, it is beneficial to the organization and all individuals within it to have a thorough and effective onboarding process.
Thorough onboarding of a new employee consists of many elements and varies according to the role of the employee and the nature of the organization. This post focuses on one element in a specific context: the Production Associate Training Plan. The Skills Gap Fallacy – Part 3: Skills Gap Assessment and Closure outlines a seven-step process to create the skilled workforce your organization needs; step six is develop a plan to achieve the “future state.” Training Plan Development via Task Assessment is one tool that can be used to accomplish this.
This approach to training plan development should be viewed as addressing a blend of components of OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) and FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis). Considering these elements in advance serves to minimize the impacts on organizational performance during a new employee’s training period.
If you are not familiar with OEE calculations or FMEA development, it is advisable to study those subjects before attempting to employ this method of training plan development. If you are accustomed to creating or maintaining FMEAs, the task assessment process will seem familiar; they are close parallels. For this reason, extensive explanation of the process will be eschewed in favor of pointed suggestions and relevant caveats where they are warranted.
A sample form used to record task assessments is shown below:
Tables of suggested rating values, rank descriptions, and risk categories for Production Impact (PI), Cost of Errors (CE), and Specialized Knowledge required (SK) are provided below to guide task assessment. Descriptions provided for task rankings are examples only, generalized to be as universally applicable as possible. Specific ranking standards may be derived to reflect the realities of your operations; additional instructions on the application of these standards should be provided for internal use. Specific technologies may also be referenced if they are critical to your operations.
Tasks, or “jobs,” should be evaluated with no specific operator in mind. That is, separate evaluation of operators’ performance from the task assessment. The task assessment should address only the risks inherent in the operation. Adjustments can be made to an individual’s training plan when skill and performance warrant (discussed later), but operator-dependence should not be reflected in the task assessment rankings.
The Training Plan Priority (TPP) equals the product of the three task assessment rankings:
TPP = PI x CE x SK.
Review of the ranking values and TPP calculation reveals an important difference between TPD (Training Plan Development) and FMEA rankings. Issues with the highest RPNs (Risk Priority Numbers) on a FMEA are addressed first, whereas tasks with lower TPPs are the first items on a TPD to be addressed (training conducted).
If the terminology used in the rank descriptions seems to exhibit a bias toward manufacturing operations, service providers should not be deterred. The TPD process is equally applicable to service organizations; service providers are also production associates, though they may not typically be given the moniker.
The next installment of “The Third Degree” will deliver Part 2 of Training Plan Development via Task Assessment, in which we will provide example task assessments for manufacturing and service operations to be used as the primary input for training plan development.
Jody W. Phelps, MSc, PMP®, MBA
JayWink Solutions, LLC
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