Tools for Improvement

Now we’re going to look at the tools for improvement. And there are four simple tools here that we can use with our team to improve our processes. The tools I’m going to discuss in this section, are value stream mapping, the Ishikawa diagram, stakeholder analysis, the problem statement and the goal statement. And the first thing to say before we move on, is that improvement is a people process. It’s the people in the process that are best placed to understand its problems and constraints and risk points. As we saw in the second floor of improvement, and processes are improved by people working together, using problem solving tools. It’s not magic, it’s people working together. And to do this, we need to create a culture of improvement where people feel free to raise up concerns and issues and problems without blame being attached to them. And I believe that involving people in improvement is more important than any tools or methods that you may read about, or think about getting involved in. improvement becomes the responsibility of the team working in the process. And managers provide the support, they facilitate the team. They provide expertise and training as necessary. Of course, all of this requires trust. The employees need to trust that managers won’t blame them when they raise up problems and errors in the process. They need to trust that they won’t be improving themselves out of a job. And they need to trust that everyone is in this activity together to improve customer value for the process. The first tool that we’re going to talk about is value stream mapping, sometimes also called process mapping. They’re basically the same thing. The value stream is a lien term, and it’s the series of activities and processes and steps that deliver products and services to the customer. So the value stream is everything. We do in order to get ready and deliver a product or service to the customer. The value stream mapping approach is a way to see the big picture of business processes, we get to visualize the whole process with all its nooks and crannies. And we begin to get to see the problem areas, the constraints, the duplicated work, and so on. by mapping every activity in step like this, we see how the work flows through the process. And that helps us to identify issues that are restricting that flow, for example, the constraints, delay points, duplication, unnecessary steps, the steps where errors occur, or rework occurs, and so on. In addition, value stream mapping makes us go and see the work in the workplace. This is a great way for building a relationship with the team who work in the workplace. And as we’ve said, they’re the ones that know where the problems arise. And it’s also a great way to understand how the process really works. In reality, which sometimes managers don’t have a clear view of, we see how value is created for the customer. And by working together with the people in the process. together as a team, we identify the problems of the process. And we come up with ideas for improvement. The aim of improvement is to improve the speed and efficiency of the process by removing the non value adding steps, which in the lean terminology are called waste. And next we have an overview, a very high level overview of a mortgage application value stream. And we see here somebody applying for mortgage online. And then rather bizarrely at the company, the application is printed out and physically sent to the mortgage team to review who then physically send it on to an underwriting team who prepare their application and their approval, which is then posted out to the customer. The elapsed time for this activity is Around 11 days, the actual process time is one hour and 20 minutes. So clearly a very inefficient process. And this is actually based on the real process from some years ago. Moving on, we see the hand drawn process map that our process team have prepared. And this again is based on a real example of change the name of course, to protect the company, but it’s a manufacturing process, which is producing plastic valves. And we can see that there are four workstations there with inventory in between them. And the team have collected various parts of data there to help them understand the process flow. When I do process mapping, I usually use a simplified version of the event process chain methodology. And I like this method because it’s relatively simple and people understand it when you’re working with teams. The three key symbols in EPC the Red hexagon there, which is an event in the physical world. So it’s something really happening in the process. The blue square is a computer report or a work queue. And then the rectangle with rounded rounded corners is a process step in the process. And in our example Value Stream Map their value stream map number one. This is for a water inspection process. And we can see that the process always starts with an event which is the red hexagon. And there’s a number of events that trigger this process. There are therefore a number of process steps which take place as we can see, and I’ve done this one in swimlanes. So we can see which team or which area processing those particular steps in the Value Stream Map example number two, we have a rather more complex process. This is the process for creating a customer bill and there are a large number of it Systems involved in this, there are various ways in which a bill can be triggered. And the yellow stars show that there are a number of points where there are inefficiencies or where there are weak checks and so on. Okay, moving on to the second tool, this is the Ishikawa Diagram sometimes also called the fishbone diagram, because of, you know the shape of the diagram. And this is a great way this is a great tool I find for helping to analyze the problem from different points of view. So, we state the problem in a single sentence in in the red box there, and then we analyze it from a number of different aspects. And traditionally, there are six branches to the Ishikawa diagram. And those are measurement methods, materials, people, machines, and Mother Nature. Now, we can add other branches to the diagram. Quite often that we might add management or company policies as a branch. If process is heavily dependent on IT systems, then we might have a separate branch for it separate from the machines branch. And we analyze the problem according to the branches that we’re using. So for example, in this one, one of the problems in terms of measurement is that returns might be being counted as damaged. And by the way that they’re getting counted. Methods here we have insufficient time to pack. We have different methods used on the Friday afternoon or Monday morning. Under materials, we have poor packaging materials. Under people, we have poor handling skills. Under machines, we have the wrapping machine damaged, causing damage. And under Mother Nature, we have potential damage caused by potholes on the route. So it’s a useful way of getting a broader view on the problem. And I use this tool very often with improvement teams. And there’s another example here that I’ve got. This is Portree company actually, what is causing increased breakages in the new line of potteries. And we’ve analyzed this again by the six normal branches. method of declining breakage has changed, for example, under measurement. And the methods work instructions haven’t been updated. The delivery company that they’ve just taken on board is very inexperienced. In terms of materials, the composition of clay has been having problems and the new shapes and styles that have been introduced quite fragile. And people we see that some experienced staff have retired, meaning that there are less experienced staff in place and relatively poor staff training, lack of comprehensive induction and training in adequate supervision and the machines we see that the kilns are sometimes too hot. So a good way of analyzing a problem and looking at it from any points of view. Third tool is stakeholder analysis. And this continues the theme of analyzing a problem from different points of view, this time from the point of view of the stakeholders in the process. So the stakeholders for a process, they will include the customer, of course, they will include the employees working in the process, they will include the management, they will include the owners of the business, they may include regulators or legislative requirements, they may include suppliers, etc. and if we can define the problem, from the point of view of each of the stakeholders involved, then again, we get to see different angles on the problem, why it might be a problem for some stakeholders and perhaps not for other stakeholders, or different aspects that might be a problem for the stakeholders. And I’ve got an example here. The overall company problem is a rising level of breakages during production and in transit to customers. So again, this is the pottery company example. This is a problem for the owners because the delays and cost increases from the breakages lead to poor margins. For the employees this is a problem because it brings a risk of cutbacks and job losses if the losses continue, and there’s also a threat to paying additions if, if profits don’t improve. And for the customers of course, they’re beginning to have a perception of poor quality products from the company which leads to a loss of confidence in the business and also their delays in getting the desired products means that they may start to seek other suppliers.