So, your goal is to streamline processes in business operations. You have a difficult job. People and machines create processes that produce a result. Unfortunately, the processes we create are not always efficient, and the result is not always the desired result. Furthermore, time and money is wasted because we do work that does not add value to the organization. The simplification of work and reduction of wasted effort needs to be identified by a person with an objective viewpoint. In short, we have inputs, throughputs, and outputs. The input starts the workflow and establishes a task that must be completed. The throughput is how that task is completed. Finally, the output is the result of the work done to complete the task. Let’s examine some ways to streamline processes in business operations.
Who’s Yelling Method for Efficiency
Are your outputs needed? Your team runs business intelligence reports. People on your team extract data from systems and place the data into an analysis platform, such as, Excel, Tableau, or Looker. Then, these reports, and supporting information are sent out to other areas of your organization to help those areas make impactful decisions, right? Chances are reports that are sent out to other areas of your organization are not utilized, misunderstood, or not useful. The “Who’s Yelling” method (WYM) sives out wasted time and effort. WYM is simple, quick to implement, and produces instant savings. Stop sending your reports and see who yells. Obviously, keep running the reports just in case there is a real business reason that another department may need the “vital” information. However, if nothing happens and nobody is yelling at you looking for a report, WYM worked.
Implement 5S to Streamline Processes
Is your throughput efficient? A half eaten Boston Cream Donut sits on your desk from Monday’s sugar high, and your coffee mug is growing some funky stuff from last Friday’s afternoon caffeine buzz. Useless printed powerpoint presentations are sitting a neat pile underneath your monitor. Actually, they are scattered everywhere, who are you kidding? Also, you have a post-it note stuck on your monitor to remind yourself to snag more post-it notes from the supply closet. Now, imagine that you quit your desk job to work as a mechanic. Since you just started, you have been tasked with tire rotations. Your shop has a 15 minute policy to complete tire rotations. That 18mm socket which you need has gone missing in the black hole AKA your toolbox. Tick. Tick.
Organization is key to creating operational efficiency and streamlined processes. The 5S methodology is an ongoing effort to stay organized. Not only can it help you find an 18mm socket, but it can reduce processing time in your organization. You can now get rid of your archive folder which sits inside your archive folder. Implement 5S by doing the following:
- Sort– get rid of anything that is not needed
- Set in Order– find a place or category for needed items
- Shine– maintain the categories and maintain organization
- Standardize– create processes to sort, order, and shine
- Sustain– keep repeating the 5S process forever
“The most dangerous kind of waste is waste we do not recognize.”
Trace the Root- Garbage In Garbage Out
In make believe XYZ Corporation, Joe Smith, enters contact information into a database, and Jill Smith (They are not related) sends out direct mail for marketing campaigns. Jill uses the name field to populate the mailing address on envelopes. The problem is that Joe populates the name field with the last name first. Once a month, Jill has to go through every name, one by one, to correct all the backwards records. The mailing blast would happen much quicker if the database was correct from the start. If your inputs cause rework, than your process is inefficient. Taking the time to examine inputs is beneficial. You can streamline processes by tracing work back to the root cause. Inefficiencies can be found by asking the question, why are we doing this?
“Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it. Nobody ever instructed me on how to populate the name field”Somebody Somewhere