If you want to find and identify lean waste, then you must be able to document your efforts.
Documenting lean waste essentially means documenting your business process, because this is the way you will find it. And by documenting it, you demonstrate to your stakeholders why you have to make certain changes to your processes.
In this article, we’ll offer the top 5 tips for accurately and successfully documenting lean waste that will help you easily capture information, identify it and act on your findings.
Quick Refresh: What Is Lean Waste
We’ve covered lean waste’s particulars elsewhere in our blog, so we’ll offer a more concise version here.
Lean waste boils down to any part of your process business in which an action does not provide value to the customer. In other words: an action in your process that is not covered by your customer’s payment as it has no value to them.
It basically means you are doing more work and losing money.
According to the lean manufacturing management philosophy, there are eight kinds of waste:
These are the parts of your process you want to look at when it comes time to document and identify your lean waste.
But what’s the best way to document your lean waste?
Tip 1: Simplify As Much as Possible
The first tip is to keep everything simple.
Simplicity will keep things clear and understandable for everyone.
Your processes are probably not as complicated as you think they are.
By capturing your action steps on a process map, you will be able to make sense of what your process actually is. You can get rid of the fluff and simply grind down on what doing X part accomplishes for your overall business.
And once you’ve mapped out the process, you will be able to document where the lean waste is showing up.
In your map, you will be able to see what steps are resulting in one of the eight kinds of waste. A common one is waiting time in relation to sign-offs. By utilising a process map, you will be quickly able to determine and document when such a waiting period is taking place.
You can then take a closer look at the waiting time and any associated tasks. Business leaders often find that by creating over-complicated steps or forms to fill out, precious time is lost, and a lot of the time the information is actually doubled or also compiled in another step.
By breaking a process down into its simple components, it becomes easy to find the spots for process improvement, and simplify the process overall to document and then remove lean waste.
Tip 2: Involve All Team Members
It’s important to involve all team members when documenting a process.
Typically done during a process mapping workshop, it can be done all together, virtually, or asynchronously with different people contributing their portion of tasks to the visualisation of the process.
The reason to include all team members that participate in a particular process is to make sure you don’t miss anything. As a business leader, you have an idea of how your business is run. However, as time goes on, those initial processes or ideas you had in place will most likely have changed or developed to accommodate for new possibilities.
Your employees working through the tasks are the ones who will know best how the process is currently running. And often, leaders find that there have been quite a few changes since they initially conceived the process.
Because these changes are often restricted to a particular team, however, there is a high chance of overlap with other teams tasks or more waiting time. As an organisation leader, one of the things to look out for is a lack of communication between teams. You want to create a space for different teams to share their steps and then compare what they’re each doing.
If teams have taken on certain responsibilities or tasks because they need information to move forward, but another team is also compiling this information for their own reasons, it makes sense to unite them.
That time spent on a similar task by both teams is lean waste. And would not be found unless you involved everyone in your process mapping workshop.
By getting everyone involved, you can find, document, and then improve on the lean waste.
Tip 3: Clear Responsibilities
Having clear responsibilities will also help you find and document lean waste.
Often a by-product of running your workshop, you’ll discover that one of the reasons sign-offs take so long is that responsibility for tasks are not clear. When this is made clearer you can find out why something is taking so long and who needs to ensure that objectives are delivered on time.
But you won’t know unless you take the time to document your process and map it out to find the lean waste that is being created by a lack of clarity.
Once it becomes clear which role and title is responsible for what action in the process, everything will move along a lot quicker and smoother. Any kinks can be worked on as they come, and responsibilities can be shuffled around as needed until you find the perfect rhythm.
Tip 4: Keep an Eye on Your Numbers
But all of the above is only part of the whole picture.
You want to keep an eye on your numbers constantly to know when it’s time to document and save information to share with your stakeholders.
After all, if there’s one thing your stakeholders will understand, it’s numerical data.
If things are taking longer, your revenue is probably growing slower than expected. Or it suddenly slows down even though it was growing steadily.
When faced with this change in your numerical data, you can revisit your process and discover if there’s something internal that’s causing lean waste to increase and affect your growth. If you’ve been documenting everything, it’ll be easy enough to find and then present to your stakeholders when it’s time to explain why you need to make certain changes.
It will also make the sign-off process go a lot faster between you and your stakeholders. You can present them with data that identifies the lean waste, and the steps that you are planning to take to fix it. Stakeholders will be able to quickly understand and agree with the changes you plan to take. After all, as we know, lean waste is essentially needless activities, and they will be just as keen to fix that.
Tip 5: Use Process Management Software
All of our tips are great if you have a way to stay on top of your processes. But we know that often this can be hard, especially if you are used to doing things by hand.
It’s the digital age, and process management software such as Skore exists.
At Skore, we help you document and stay on top of your lean waste.
Our easy mapping system is based on Universal Process Notation (UPN), meaning it is easy for everyone involved in a process to follow along. No aspect of a process is missed when everyone in the workshop can understand what each part of the map means and how their actions contribute to it. It’s also a great way to build company morale and confidence, as employees can understand how they contribute to your growth.
The maps built on Skore have roles assigned to each action as well, so it is easy to figure out why someone may be taking more time on accomplishing a particular task. If someone is in training, they can consult the maps anytime by accessing the process map library. This also helps diminish the lean waste of asking several people before landing at the answer.
Skore’s Quantify solution also provides you access to the numerical data you want to keep an eye on. A dashboard of numerical insights will be provided, with trouble spots pointed out where changes can be made.
Additionally, process reviews encourage users to constantly check on their processes and see if there are any areas that would benefit from improvement. This means you don’t have to pencil in constant workshops with all of your teams, simply supervise the status of the process and see if there are steps to improve, and what is surrounding them, and only involve those who are part of it.
Effectively, the tool documents the lean waste for you.
Using process management software is the best move you can make to document lean waste
Documenting lean waste is a necessity if you want to make a change in your processes.
It helps you demonstrate to your stakeholders why you need to make a change, and it also helps you communicate it to your employees.
If you’re looking to document lean waste to make an impact and improve your processes, please be sure to get in touch.