Value Stream Mapping the Office

In the last few years, the idea of using Lean for office processes has become more and more prevalent. Service, not-for-profits, health care, and even governments are taking a closer look at making everyday processes more efficient and effective with the use of Value Stream Mapping. As consultants and facilitators, our role is to help you identify where to start, teach you how to facilitate your own events, mentor you through the learning curve, and assist you with the follow-up Kaizen events, so your efforts continue to produce sustainable results.

We have seen empowered teams make significant changes in how they perform their work, solving the problems they encounter every day by seriously analyzing their work processes, and eliminating waste and variation.

Value Stream Mapping can uncover as much as 99% of waste in office processes, and for that very reason, Value Stream Mapping is one of the most widely used tools in the office.

Use this 10-Step Process for Value Stream Mapping:

        1. Get Leadership’s commitment to process improvement.
        2. Define the scope of the process to be mapped.
        3. Map the “current state” process, how the process currently operates today.
        4. Collect any useful data relating to the process.
        5. Define each step in the process as Value-added, Cost-added, or Waste.
        6. Establish the desired measurement and improvement goal for the process.
        7. Use brainstorming and prioritize ideas.
        8. Develop the “future state” Value Stream Map by removing the waste.
        9. Create an action plan with responsibilities.
        10. Implement the action plan and train everyone involved.

Future state results typically reveal a 50% reduction in waste and steps. How do you suppose this happens? If there is so much waste, why didn’t the employees fix the process without going through a formal Value Stream Mapping exercise? Here’s the problem. As managers, we want to solve the problems ourselves, constantly putting out fires and having all the solutions. That’s why we are managers. Managers need to think about asking all the right questions instead of having all the answers, ultimately becoming “Learners” vs. “Knowers.”

Employees come to work every day wanting to feel a sense of accomplishment; however, as managers, we give them terrible processes to work with and expect them to do a great job. If we give them the tools and the authority and responsibility to fix their own processes, they become engaged and empowered to solve the problems that get in the way of performing their work.

Start today, and assemble a team of six to eight employees, use the 10-Step Process for Value Stream Mapping. Be sure to start first with the processes closest to your customers and allow the team to make the beneficial changes that add more value to your customers. Everyone wins – customers, employees, and the organization.

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