WHAT ARE THE WAYS TO PREVENT DATA MANIPULATION IN THE MAINTENANCE OF RECORDS?
Data manipulation is not appreciated and acceptable anywhere.
However, many a time, it is seen that daily production figures are deliberately manipulated in apparel manufacturing units to depict the expected figures and please the upper management. Not only the manual system but also the feeding of data in ERP system are reported to be manipulated. Did you face any such issues in your organization? What are the ways to prevent data manipulation in the maintenance of records?
Yes, you are right, data manipulation is a common problem in our industry. This deliberate error is being done repeatedly due to fear of threats from the senior/top management. Actually, it starts with wrong planning, lack of style analysis and supply chain challenges. The senior/top management should assure the department heads to provide adequate solutions for the problem areas. Fear of losing the job is the key reason behind this lack of transparency.
I have also observed lot of ‘production data’ manipulation in terms what is being actually produced and what the target really is, even at in- charge level. This is done in order to cover the loss on certain days when the absenteeism is high or some supply chain issues are not resolved. I control this simply by counselling and training the staff on the importance of numbers. They are now well aware of the fact that disciplinary action will certainly be taken if any manipulated figures are noticed. Also, I assure them from time to time by providing solutions for all the difficulties they are facing to make them feel that their financial problems are also heard.
GM (Operations), Shahi Exports Pvt. Ltd., Faridabad
A problem, if reviewed, can be resolved but if the problem is not reviewed and just overshadowed, it will not be eliminated. And this casual attitude will allow the problem to get bigger and actually create nuisance in the last stage. The same goes with data manipulation. Fudging of data at any point of time is not appreciated in our organization.
In CTA Apparels, we have a checkpoint to stop this manipulation. We only accept those pieces which come off the shopfloor and go down to the next department and for us, each corresponding department is the buyer for the previous department. Therefore, the previous department cannot show fake data as it’s the next department which is giving the actual report. And the authenticity of the received report is checked by the hourly monitoring of the data output. For example, if a line says that it has worked till 6 o’clock and delivered 1,000 pieces but the corresponding department says that they got only 900 pieces, the problem must be within the statement of the first department. After inquiring, we come to know that now the first department has completed 100 pieces too but could not send it, reason being anything. Fair enough, we suggest them to just keep those 100 with them and add it the next day. Therefore, the audit department takes care of all these monitoring reports. Due to this initiative, we have achieved reduction in alternation, line WIP, last hour data collection and fudging. We nailed all four bottlenecks with single planning. So, in my view, hourly checking and respecting the next department as a gateway is the only way to stop data manipulation.
GM (Operations), CTA Apparels Pvt. Ltd., Noida
Yes, data manipulation is a serious problem nowadays in apparel manufacturing units. Even in our organization, we have faced such kind of issues but we developed the ideas to tackle it. From my point of view, to prevent these issues, we should implement some system properly such as hourly production/operations which should be monitored by electric board display that needs to be set- up in PD or MD’s room. Believe me, one cannot get a better option than this. We have implemented this and the results that we have achieved are overwhelming.
Additionally, there is a need to provide a logical target to production line/unit, and each week, the efficiency of the production line/ unit should be considered during planning for a significant target. This would help manufacturers reduce the load of production and transparency would be maintained in the whole process.
Apart from these, what I suggest to stop data manipulation is:
1. Providing incentives to the operators on daily over production/operation to get a true status as it inspires staff to be truthful.
2. Proper monitoring from input to output can help prevent presenting lame excuses as well as hide & seek of information.
3. Finding the reason behind the sudden surprises given by the supervisors. Most of time, it is found that they hide something from the start of any operation and try to give surprises finally to win boss’ confidence.
4. Arranging an internal audit for every section from time to time. This makes all the staff to be true towards their working.
Sr. Merchandiser, Setara Group, Bangladesh
This is an interesting question about factual data and its manipulation. Yes, of course, data is generally manipulated during and after production, especially in volume- driven factories.
We see this happening every day in some of our factories in Vietnam where the piece rate system is applied. The daily output is manipulated by the line leader in order to achieve target output set by the production management and sometimes the unfinished products which floats in the line, are still counted as the finished pieces. This scenario is pretty harmful for the manufacturers because, at the end of the day, all the detected/ identified manipulation would lead to consequences like indirect monetary loss if not eliminated properly.
In order to prevent this issue, not only the record/report should be transparent but also the management’s mindset would have to be changed to stop time and dollar loss. Top management must understand that they need to indulge more in the working of midmanagement to know the exact processes of the shopfloor so that in case of any discrepancy, they can suggest solutions. I have recommended to implement hourly production monitoring report which the production floor is now taking care of and somehow at present, we are able to reduce the manipulation of data..
Apparel Sourcing & Production Manager, Eddie Bauer, Vietnam