Space limits the
amount of detail that can be mentioned here. There are, however,
several critical areas that will be discussed in more detail. The
first of these is identification of the process requiring review.
Process improvement opportunities can come from;
1. a Strategic Plan
or Enterprise Modelling Activity
2. a prior process review
3. something breaking and requiring immediate action
4. an employee idea, problem, suggestion, etc.
5. a new business requirement.
Any one or more of
these can be the catalyst for a process review.
The second critical activity is that of team make up. Each process
being reviewed must have an owner/sponsor who has a vested interest
in the area under review. This individual is generally at the vice
president level. The ideal team is made up of four to six
individuals. It is comprised of real experts in the process from all
major organizations involved in the process. A lesson learned is
that the people closest to the problem are best suited to develop
solutions to that problem. These individuals will be the keys to
implementation of new ideas in their respective areas. Electric Boat
strives to ensure that each team has an individual with systems
analysis experience who has limited, if any, functional knowledge
of the process but can facilitate the team. Someone on the team will
have to assume the duties of the data manager; a most critical but
time consuming task. Team members need a solid reputation of
fairness and objectivity within the organization. During the review,
they will have to change their mind-set from the current focus on
their department to one of total company, i.e., "What would I do if
this were AIY company?" Once established, the team selects a
leader/spokesperson. After the team members have been selected, they
will normally go through some process review methodology training
as well as some team building exercises.
The next crucial
activity is establishing process boundaries, goals, baseline
indicators and a plan. The team and sponsor will define and agree
upon the "start" and "end" points of the review. They agree on what
will be included in the process and what will not be included. This
is important in order to maintain focus during the review and avoid
going off on tangents. The team must realize that the boundaries may
change as they get into the review and as such they should
periodically reassess them.
of the review are established that are both aggressive but
attainable, e.g. reduce purchase order processing time by 50%. These
goals are challenging enough to stretch the organization and also
provide inspiration to stimulate creative thinking. In order to
measure the goals, the team will have to collect baseline indicators
and performance measures during the data collection process, e.g.,
what is the purchase order processing time today that we hope to
reduce by 50%? Measurements are critical to process improvement. "If
you cannot measure it, you cannot control it. If you cannot control
it, you cannot manage it. If you cannot manage it, you cannot
improve it." The team will also develop a high level milestone plan
including periodic briefings with the process owner/sponsor to
avoid down stream surprises.
By far the most
time consuming phase of the review is that of data collection, i.e.
developing an understanding of how the process currently operates
and documenting it. One-on-one and group interviews with individuals
who perform and manage the process are the most frequently used
methods to collect data. Interviews are structured based on the
individual being interviewed. They can also be categorized by the
type of person being interviewed. There are generally three types:
Management—executives and officers of the organization
2. Operating Management—Department Heads, Managers, Supervisors
3. Operating Personnel—people responsible for a specific job of
The best information is usually obtained by interviewing the people
who make the system work, i.e., the operating personnel.
Questionnaires can be useful but not as a substitute for
face-to-face communication. Documentation from the interviews
1. a description of the tasks performed,
2. identification of the information flow,
3. samples of information sources,
4. records regarding time spent per task iteration, task volume,
backlogs, overtime required, etc.,
5. suggestions on how to improve the process from the individuals
each interview is then cataloged by the data manager. This is also
the time to collect and validate baseline statistical information.
The team will then develop a graphical representation of the process
using the information collected during interviews, i.e., a simple
flow chart. This document, the "as-is" flow, is used to identify
items that may have been over looked
during the interviews, e.g., identification of all logging and
copying activities, distribution lists, bottlenecks, etc. A follow
up interview should be considered to validate the flow and answer
questions that may have come up.
The most difficult
segment of the process review is that of analysis. The teams will
usually go through a learning curve. In order to obtain the optimum
benefits, team members have to open up to radical thoughts and
ideas. There are no limits in process improvement. The group must
THINK BIG, but be sure not to overlook the obvious. The first
consideration is always to determine if the entire
process can be eliminated! If not, can part of it be eliminated?
Can the process be changed to improve its effectiveness? Can the
organization be changed to improve the effectiveness of the process?
Will automation help? What can be done to eliminate waste?
To be Continued
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 01
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