In Lean Six Sigma, friction is defined as any activity that removes energy in a process.  Friction can be intentional or unintentional.  Intentional friction helps prevent mistakes from happening as it slows down the process in pivotal areas such as proofing a file to a customer.  Unintentional friction, as the name suggests, is unplanned and therefore unwanted friction.  In terms of improving throughput in a process, the low hanging fruit would be eliminating unintentional friction whenever and wherever possible.

In May’s blog I went over how Campus Graphics improved the efficiency of the job approval process using the Assigned/Designer (AD) drop down menu.  This month I will go over how we drastically improved tracking our production by interfacing the AD drop down menu with Trello (an online workflow collaboration tool) and how my production team utilizes the Status field in PSP to categorize and organize production workflow. is a free collaborative online tool that utilizes the Toyota Production System (TPS) concept of the Kanban Board.  Japanese for “sign,” the Kanban Board is a graphic that exhibits a product’s status in a process workflow.  Trello works for most task-driven processes because of the ability to customize status categories.  Jobs are entered as “cards” that travel from one status to the next as the job moves through production.  Via mobile app or desktop, employees can track the status of a job, who is working on it, what needs to be done, or read notes from the person who touched the job last.  As a manager, I can access Campus Graphics production 24/7 allowing me to monitor resources and gauge productivity.

How it all works: When a print job is ready to be released (estimate approved, proof approved, assets received, etc.) from PSP to Trello, we use the AD drop down menu in PSP to automatically create a Trello card.  Production staff sees these cards appear in the queue status on their Trello Board.  Cards can be assigned to or claimed by staff who then complete production moving the card through the various category statuses.   In addition to Trello, staff updates the Status drop down menu in PSP triggering appropriate auto email updates to customers (e.g. Contract Proof Out) or provide more detail as to the location of the job in the workflow (e.g. Bindery – Duplo).

Since Campus Graphics runs two shifts, there are many times the production coordinator cannot physically assign jobs or provide instructions to staff which makes PSP and Trello essential tools in managing our production workflow.  Tracking Campus Graphics workflow via a graphic display has prevented errors and mistakes from occurring which is the TPS concept of Poka Yoke, meaning you are designing mistake-proof measures in your workflow in order to prevent defects. 

Want more information on how to remove unintentional friction and incorporate Poka Yoke into your workflow?  Check out my new book, Managing for Quality in GRC.   If interested, please respond to the PSP forum this month.

Have a great September!

Gordon Rivera

Gordon Rivera

Gordon Rivera has over 20 years of experience working in an in-plant print shop. He is currently Supervisor of Campus Graphics at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. He received his degree in Graphic Communications from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt as well as a G7 certified print professional. He is a contributing writer for In-Plant Graphics Magazine. Gordon has been teaching evening classes in Graphic Communication at Cal Poly for 10+ years. Gordon has been a Print Shop Pro® User since 2008.