Process Flow Design from Current to Future State

Future StateThere are many of us Lean Six Sigma Practitioners who know how to conduct a successful Value Stream Mapping (VSM) session. We all have experienced the exhilaration of the future state on paper and anticipation of the business results this new process will achieve.

We leave the conference room with the agreed timeline and assigned resources to bring it into existent. The project review meetings are scheduled (usually monthly or quarterly), project outlines are now in SharePoint (or some other project database), and the required projects have started.

Then… the first monthly project review meeting is held and the results are not good. None of the projects are on time, in fact there is no tracking against a timeline, there is “finger pointing” as to why something never got done, there are many production excuses as to why projects are behind, some of the key project people are not at this first meeting, and the organization leader has sent her/his apologies as to why they cannot attend this meeting, assuring everyone it is important. The meeting concludes with no real actions determined to get back on track.

Unfortunately this type of project progress happens more often than not.

The Value Stream Mapping (VSM) team provided the means to be action focused which created the beginnings of momentum but it quickly went away, why? There are many reasons, but having no organizational support structure or methods to support strategic projects are the most significant. Here are some of the organizational support structure and methods needed for proven success:

  • The leadership team agrees to use Value Stream Mapping as part of their strategy deployment. This includes obtaining the required budget approvals for the anticipated resources.
  • Organization leader must open the VSM session with a strong message as to why this value stream must improve. What are the consequences if the value stream results stay the same? How does it align with the current strategy? What will the expected results provide for employees and customers? What will be the key metric of success?
  • All department heads, including Human Resources and Finance, are following their Leaders Standard Work to support setting and obtaining target conditions.
  • The leadership team agrees to Support, Teach, and Support the VSM team during analysis and execution of identified Future State. They also agree to continuously improve to the Ideal State.
  • The determined VSM team understands the Current State will be established with validated process data (cycle time, arrival times, lead time, WIP volumes, identified bottleneck(s), losses). These metrics can then be credibly used as measurements of success in Future State implementation.
  • Time must be given to team members, prior to the VSM session to take actual measurements of their part of the process. For example, there are not many organizations who measure individual process step cycle time especially if it is transactional cycle time. Too many VSM’s are conducted with data from experience, and from my knowledge, they are wrong almost 100% of the time. This will not only lead the VSM team to wrong conclusions but it can also cause the team to miss identifying the process bottleneck.
  • Assigned VSM solutions must be identified into the following categories:

– Just do it
– Short term (less than two weeks)
– Medium term (less than 30 days)
– Long term (less than 60 days)

  • All projects must be in A3 project format with a single summary page for executive project updates. They are posted as visual management to learn from and create discussions.
  • Not only the Leader but all reporting managers must commit and allocate time for the assigned people to work on the required Future State projects. This allocated time must be visually managed, daily, with a posted matrix of the agreed upon schedule. If someone misses their allocated time then the manager and person assigned agree on a new time and make the time up.
  • Resources like production time, axillary equipment, expenditures, training, and materials must also be planned for and approved.
  • Setting up visual management in the Gemba, providing:

– Daily progress of the VSM projects
– Daily results of the VSM key metric
– Project timeline results with identified roadblocks when getting off track
– Matrix of when people are scheduled to work on the projects

Implementing the above organization support structure and methods will ensure your current state process flow will become the Future State flow your team has designed.

Lean Teams USA

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