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AIM 2023: Key Manufacturing Principles Can be Applied to Multifamily Operations

Many jump on the first viable solution to a perceived problem and often it is incorrect and costly compared to the alternative.

Apartment operators can be plagued by having to solve common onsite and management problems, often more than once. Many are plagued by the “We’ve always done it this way” approach.

Tina Padavich Smothers, President/Managing Partner at ARTISAN Management Group; and Rich Smothers, Industrial Engineering Manager at CemenTech; helped reframe problem-solving approaches by using key manufacturing principles.

Moderator Stephanie Oehler, Vice President of People Success at PMG Property Management guided the conversation.

“You never have time to do it, but you have time to do it twice,” Rich Smothers said.

Furthermore, “Don’t Look for “An” answer Look for “The” answer,” he added.

That can be done through the concepts of Process Optimization and Reverse Engineering – what the steps look like, and the expected outcomes, which can improve automation.

Additionally, Root Cause Analysis and Reverse Engineering will help management properly analyze the tech stack and report workflows to realize greater efficiencies.

Root Cause Analysis is simply the intentional act of finding out why something is the way that it is. It is defined by these steps:

  • Identify the perceived problem
  • Identify the cause of that problem
  • Identify WHY that problem was caused
  • Then … Solve that why.

“If you solve that why, does that solve your problem several layers up? If yes, you’re done. If not, you have to ask why again,” Rich Smothers said.

“Many will jump on the very first viable solution to a perceived problem and often it is incorrect and costly compared to the alternative.”

Reverse engineering is the action of disassembling a product or system all the way down to its individual components, constantly using root cause analysis to understand why things are the way they are Reverse engineering process is:

  • Identify an item to evaluate.
  • Identify all of the layers that make up the item.
  • Identify all of the parts it takes to make up the layers.
  • Identify the processes required to make the parts.

When everything is identified, define what it takes to get each item, each part, each layer, and each EVERYTHING.

Next is Process Optimization, which is basically the following process:

  • What is the goal of the process in question?
  • Map the process.
  • Are there any redundant activities?
  • Does everything on the map contribute to the goal?
  • Can anything in the map be omitted?
  • Is the process understood by everyone involved? Do they understand WHY?

Process optimization is really just making sure that the process to complete any task or reach any goal is as efficient as possible, Rich Smothers said. Eliminate the waste. Reach the goal as quickly as possible.

More Interesting Points:

  • Some employees may be resistant to change or reluctant to adopt new processes or technologies. This can lead to pushback and resistance to implementing these principles.
  • Tina Smothers said, “Corporate leadership should NEVER implement anything without the buy-in or first testing from those on the field. People never want change, and no one wants change as it’s the "laziness" in the population.
  • You must make the automation part of the workflow and reinforce the criticality of every person doing their part. When someone tries to do something the old way the entire workflow can collapse.
  • Following these principles can make uncontrollable controllable.

Here is the replay:

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