Posted by: knightbird | March 23, 2011

The Problems Get Smaller and the Opportunities More Apparent

I just finished our quarterly meeting with our Board of Directors and made an interesting observation-our problems are smaller. When we started with Lean, we were tackling huge inefficient value streams.  I have written about many of them in this blog. Many of my staff present their A 3’s as a part of their report and our focus has changed. We are incorporating more of the future into our performance improvements. Let me share an example with you.

Here is one from our IT Department, small as it is (2 employees). The problem statement says: “IT help desk handles multiple IT requests at once and is constantly interrupted while working on immediate tasks. The constant interruption increases incomplete tasks, lowers concentration of IT and makes it difficult to manage the status & priority of each project or request.” The Target Statement is: IT help desk maintains a system of receiving and processing IT requests that is efficient and easy to follow.”

The analysis of the problem demonstrated that customers did not receive the service they needed when they needed it because of the constant interruptions. IT staff started and stopped one task several times in a period of time, so there was no continuous flow. There was no baseline of need established. And the quantity and type of need has not been analyzed to see if there are preventative or training measures that could be identified and implemented.

The action proposed was the formalization of a help desk system that logged requests, established the proper priority, established an efficient work flow and recorded completion and categorization of types of work completed.

Most businesses have so many issues to address but limited resources (they think) to address them. Lean has helped us put most of our “firefighting” issues behind us. We are focusing on “Continuous Improvement” and able to see opportunities much more clearly. The process improvements and cash freed up are still progressing, but just not at the rate they were when we first started. And like I said in the title, the opportunities are more apparent.

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