Office or transactional processes, such as Human Resources, often struggle with process improvement. The “work” is difficult to visualize, and all the training is geared towards “manufacturing”.
Studies have shown that most inefficiencies occur in the office processes of a company, not in the manufacturing area. That is because the focus has been on manufacturing since the beginning of time, so they have been working at it longer, the flow of work is easier to visualize, and there are more people in an office setting than manufacturing.
We have experience making that connection for the office processes. Here is a simple approach you can take:
- Why should we do lean?
- Determine case for change, why does this function need to do things differently (financial terms)?
- Who are your primary customers? What are they saying about need for change?
- Not sure what your customers want? Send surveys and interview to determine priorities.
- Who gets the priority for lean?
- What products and services does function provide to the primary customers? How many of each? What is the satisfaction from customer of those products and services?
- Align products and services to organizational structure (resources) to get full picture.
- Where are function resources spending their time doing? Start time charging if no data available.
- Which area within this function needs the most help, based on existing financial, customer and process/scorecard data? If data does not exist, stop and gather before proceeding. Look for areas with high customer importance and few resources, and vice versa.
- Review impact of office processes on organization (time and effort impact on the company), not just resource impact within that function.
- HR examples: Mandatory training, performance reviews, job requisition process, annual paperwork, employee services, etc
- When will we roll out lean to all?
- Determine time frame for initial training to all (leader and employee)
- Identify lean resources available, or bring in expertise
- Develop implementation and communications plan for lean (schedule of events and activities, not specific focus areas at this time)
- Where do we improve first?
- Analyze and prioritize opportunities
- Complete lean training to all, specialized training to lean resources and priority areas
- Generate small success stories, to gain buy-in and support
- What do we improve?
- Execute lean events and projects (mapping, analysis, outputs, resources, cycle times, demand, costs, ideas)
- Increase skills and quantity of lean resources
- Implement action plans from events and manage overall lean plan
- How did we do?
- Verify actions completed and improvements are quantified
- Modify lean plan based on feedback and engagement
- Maintain and Start Over
- Revise lean plan and time frame
- Develop continuous improvement mindset and
- Implement long term sustainment (training and mentoring)
- Address systemic problems (outside function) and data measurement issues
You can read more about this approach to time charging and products and services in an office setting in an article we wrote >>
Want to learn more about Lean and Six Sigma tools, and apply them to an improvement projects? Check out these low-cost online courses and certification programs
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