Sustain the gains is about ensuring all the effort that has gone into improving the performance of a process sticks and is not lost down the line. Sustain the gains is about ensuring the solution implemented stick, and the the expected profit increase are realized.
We have heard reports that some companies expressed frustration that so much effort has been invested in developing solutions to improve process profit, and in the end the expected profits where not gained nor maintained.
Our experience is to the contrary. We have found that when the real problems / opportunities, that is those that really matter to the organization or process, are addressed, and when the appropriate change management has been applied, and when simple controls are in place, the gains are sustained.
Several factors play a role to ensure grins are sustained. Most are simple good management during the solution finding and implementaion phase. And basic controls to ensure all understand what is required and regularly reviewed.
Sustain the Gains 1: Solution Quality
Naturally it goes without saying that the quality of solution needs to be appropriate, with fail safes (Poka-Yoke) built-in, and all stakeholders fully trained.
... then many of the key incredients are in place to ensure grins are sustained.
Sustain the Gains 2: Standard Operating Procedures
Standard operating procedures (SOP) need to be in place, accessible and available to those that need to follow them. These SOPs need to be kept current and those that need to work to them appropriately trained on the content thereof.
Sustain the Gains 3: Assessments & Audits
Within the first period (3-6 months) after the full solution being implemented, at least 2 assessments / audit against the standard operating procedure needs to take place to ensure the solutions is correctly adhered to.
Sustain the Gains 4: Performance Metrics
For the first 12 months (and preferably ongoing thereafter) the process output, process performance metric, should be visibly displayed and monitored for deviations. Management should show active interest in these metrics.
Sustain the Gains 5: Response Plan
An Out of Control Response Plan (OCRP) should detail the actions to be tacked when the process performance moves out of control. This includes the escalation procedure.
The above 5 practices are taken from various disciplines including quality management, continuous improvement and project management fields.