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Friday, February 3, 2012

Greenbelt for Operations vs. Services

'Lean' as in 'lean manufacturing' or the 'Toyoto Way' was born out of the little factory that could.

Lean Philosophy for Services

Due to its roots in manufacturing many have overlooked the applicability to everyday services. But- those who truly understand lean and its principles will tell you how 'lean' is less about tools to evaluate manufacturing processes and more about philosophy and corporate culture!

In fact, many companies who have attempted to implement lean tools into their practises without first embracing lean culture- have failed miserably. Instead of blaming their failure on their short-sighted viewpoint (lean as a quick hit way of eliminating waste-thus improving profits) they give-up entirely and propagate the belief that lean was just another flavour of the month initiative by management.

Anyways, this post is not about 'lean failures' but about lean in services...

Well, if we can see 'lean' as a philosophy, we hold the key to why and how it can be applied to services.

Our Greenbelt Programs for Operations and Service

In both programs lean history and philosophy are explored and covered. We believe in practical learning and so both programs will incorporate hands-on-experience at our clients facilities.

Module I: The first module covers 5S- these principles of creating an organized workplace with Visual Management and Standard Operating Procedures are applied either at a service-based organization such as an office or storeroom if you're in Service- or on the shopfloor, inventory room, shipping and receiving area if you're in the Operations program.

Module II: Creating flow. In Services we call this 'Process Time Reduction' and in Operations we refer to it as 'Cycle Time Reduction'.

Business processes such as financial reporting, information filing and recuperation, performance measurements, sales order, service calls etc... will be evaluated and reorganized to minimize waste. These processes are at greater risk of a) over-processing (too many people handling the same document), b) waiting (having to wait on another department), c) rework (insufficient information). Creating 'flow' through these processes by using value stream mapping, spaghetti diagrams will enable service providers to strengthen their processes.

Operational processes may include setup/changeover time and assembly/packing lines as examples. Use of kanban systems, line balancing, creating one-piece flow, re-arranging the line and poke yoke strategies are just some of the tools which can be applied to reduce the 'cycle'.

Module III: Whereas Operations will go through a Lean Office Kaizen- this is similar to what our Service group performs as part of their Process Time Reduction Module- our Service group will study Value Innovation.

Value Innovation looks to all aspects of improving the customer experience. The focus in this module is to evaluate what customers truly value and appreciate and work on improving these touchpoints. Examples of touchpoints could be a customer opening up a new account, navigating the corporate website, making a payment etc... Taking the time to evaluate a customer's experience from start to end and determining how you can set yourself apart from the competition- the WOW factor- is all part of Value Innovation. This module cements the fact that lean can improve services just as clearly as it has in manufacturing!

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