The most effective way to streamline a business process is to use Lean Process Flow Mapping. Similar to how Lean manufacturing simplifies the flow of materials throughout a production process, Process Flow Mapping improves information transfer throughout a business process. Every administrative process from quoting to invoicing can benefit from using our effective process mapping tools so fewer resources “touch” the information, whether these touches are keystrokes or paperwork.
At Supply Velocity, we believe that the best way to apply Lean to an information process is to fully understand its current state by business process mapping the good, the bad and the ugly of what is being done right now. These current state map captures every activity conducted by the various departments involved in the process. It is helpful for members of the mapping team to include experts from a cross section of the organization. The IT and/or ERP guru should be included on the mapping team as they will help with understanding system capabilities. Multi-site operations should consider sending representatives to a central location. In addition, enough time should be allocated to create a complete and thorough current state map.
When the current state process map template is visible for all associates to review and comment on, the team can work together to identify and eliminate all non-value-added steps. We have developed some original methods to highlight waste and the interaction between departments. Therefore, teams can quickly see where the opportunities for improvement exist.
Teams are always surprised with how complicated their current process is and how much “pain” they cause each other. This leads to the generation of great ideas for improvements; a parking lot of opportunities that can be reviewed, prioritized and assigned as projects. The elimination of wasteful steps create the quantified savings from the process mapping.
We include periods for other associates who are not on the mapping team to give their feedback in the implementation timeline. This ensures more people get involved and improves adoption as associates see their ideas are being listened to and included in the new, best practices.
The current state map minus all non-value added steps is used to create a future state map that represents the streamlined process. Once all non-value-added steps are removed, we fill in process gaps and create the ideal process flow. The team can then use this future state map to teach all appropriate departments the new best practices and the rationale behind the changes. This future state process flow map can also be provided to your IT and Quality groups to incorporate into your ERP and quality systems as a further benefit for the organization.
Depending on the scope of the project, a Process Mapping exercise can take anywhere from 2 weeks for a single department process to a few months for an entire supply chain map. The mapping team must have time to focus their attention on the mapping project for periods of time over a compressed schedule to keep momentum and ensure completeness. Ultimately this will ensure a more robust future state map that shows all of the non-value-added work in the current process. We have seen the number of required steps reduced 40 to 80%.