We have seen that it is essential to know one’s process before taking any improvement projects. But, the main question remains unanswered
“How process flow can help us?”
Case-1: Department driven company Vs. Process driven company
We have experienced that any company is comprised of many departments.
However, the irony is that the company is made of departments whereas the processes make the business (product and services provided by any company is the result of series of processes that encompasses various departments) as shown below.
As company is divided into departments hence, everyone is responsible for their departmental work-flow but no one is accountable for the entire business flow leading to product & services. Finally because of this myopic vision, people fail to see the entire process that make up the business and couldn’t contribute beyond their department for the betterment of the business. Hence, the process flow described above should not be taken as manufacturing project but as a process starting from order and ends with revenue recognition or simply as “order to payment.”
In the departmental set-up, production can argue that they have completed the task in time and the project has been goofed-up by some other department hence, they are not responsible for the project failure. This is a common scenario where all department works in silos. But they fail to figure out the bigger picture
“If any sub-process of the work-flow fails, it hampers the product/services delivery and as a result, company fails to get the revenue. As the company’s growth is hampered, which in return could hamper everyone’s performance and increment irrespective of the good work by your department.” Simply because if company fails to generate the revenue, from where it would give you the increment? Even if you have performed well!
I do remember that in my last organization, we were in the customer centric business and after initial struggle we came up with following CFT matrix headed by a project manager. The CFT comprises of the members from each department. Once the project is awarded to the CFT, this CFT is responsible for the end to end delivery of the project. Even though each member was reporting to their departmental head but for the project they were one unit with a common goal. As a result no one has excuse in case project fails, irrespective of any reason.
Advantage of this system is that there is a dedicated team for the delivery of the project and the work-flow is automatically followed. Another advantage is that the respective head interferes with the process in case of criticality otherwise they can so some other value added work for the company (justifying their salary!).
Case-2: Identifying non-value adding steps in the process
Take the case of raw material release by QA for the production (earlier blog). Now if we modify the process flow diagram by adding the time taken for the activity by a department and the person responsible, then flow charts can add value by
1. Increasing the process understanding
2. Identify the problem areas and improvement opportunities by identifying the non-value adding activities.
3. It helps in laying the foundation for value stream mapping (VSM)
4. It helps in establishing the service level agreement (SLA) between the departments.
In the above work flow we can question the QC
why it takes 1 hour for SOP retrieval? Can’t we have soft copies instead?
Why QC head takes 10 hours for approval? Can’t it be delegated to some experienced QC person? if not, can we train some QC persons?
Why QA head takes 5 hours for approval, as he has say only yes or no by looking at the QC data? Can’t it be delegated to some experienced QA person? if not, can we train some QA persons?
To summarize, if we make the process flow in minute details, we can have solutions and we can also eliminate non-value adding steps.
Hammer, M. and Champy, J. (1993). Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution, New York: HarperCollins Publishers.