T&A (Time and Action) was considered the holy grail of the fashion industry. It was designed to ensure that everyone in the fashion supply chain is aligned and knows what needs to be done by when. However very often we have seen that companies end up filling out a T&A as a mechanical activity that has little or no correlation with what is happening in reality. So based on over 20 years of working with the fashion industry, here are my simple thumb rules of what an effective T&A needs to be:
- Focus on Key Milestones - Activities and deadlines should focus on some key milestones (e.g. PP Sample approval, Lab Dip approval, Planned Cut Date, Ex-Factory Date). Track individual and department performance against these milestones and not each micro activity. After all if the PP Sample gets approved on time, then does it really matter if the First Fit was 1 day late!
- Create a weekly Review Cycle to discuss and review how the key milestones are being met. It is critical that minutes of the T&A review meeting are kept and circulated to different stake holders so that follow up action is tracked. This is EXTREMELY important and often never done.
- Record decisions and corrective actions in a simple easy to use tracking tool (there are many available) - where such information can be pulled up to delve into history of a style.
- KIS - Keep it Simple. T&As are not meant to micro manage anyone. People can take care of their own tasks themselves. So, dont clutter with too many details.
- T&A is not a checklist - for that an excel sheet is always better. Rather T&A is a place for you to be able to collaborate effectively with the rest of the organization to improve performance. So, use it for communicating to other departments what you are doing and what you need from them for an order.
Just follow the above steps and you will see your company performance go up!