Administrative Value Stream Mapping

September 1, 2005
By Darren Dolcemascolo

In part one of "Lean for Administrative Processes," I wrote about the application of the "seven wastes" to administrative processes. In this article, I will discuss value stream mapping for administrative value streams.

Current State Mapping

After gaining an understanding of the wastes you will find within administrative processes, you must map the current state. There are six basic steps.

1. Document Customer information/needs. As with any other aspect of lean, it is important to understand what the customer values. Ask the question, "What is the customer willing to pay for?"

2. Identify the key processes. With a group of employees that are involved in the administrative process, list out each of the key processes.

3. Based on customer requirements and the processes themselves, select process metrics. Metrics may include lead time, processing time, % errors,

4. Collect data (walk through process). This involves calculating the above metrics based on a process walkthrough (and data collection).

5. Establish how each process sets its priorities. In any administrative process in which information is transferred, prioritizing work is a key factor. It will need to be standardized during development of the future condition.

6. Calculate key summary metrics for the entire process. In most cases, lead time and % value-creating lead time will be the key metrics. This tells you how long the process actually takes and how much of that time is value-creating versus waste.

Future State Mapping

After the current state has been clearly identified, creating the future state involves the following six steps.

1. Confirm customer needs / requirements and calculate takt time. Takt time, as you may recall, is a measure of customer demand relative to available time. It is calculated by dividing the available time by the number of units demanded in the same period. Takt time is not always easy to calculate for administrative processes, but a good estimate can almost always be made. Takt time will tell you how often the customer requires a product (whether the product be an engineering change, processed order, or actual product. For example, the takt time for customer ordering might be 15 minutes. That means that a customer order must be processed every 15 minutes.

2. Determine Performance Audit Window. Similar to the concept of "pitch" in manufacturing, it is important to determine how often to check on performance to takt. For takt times that are very long, this interval might be correspondingly long. For example, if for a particular process, takt time is measured in weeks, a multiple daily performance check/audit would be completely unnecessary. Performance might be monitored over a much longer time period.

3. Determine which steps in the process create value and which generate waste. This involves critically examining each process step and determining if it is value-creating or if it is waste.

4. Create a work flow with fewer interruptions. Similar to the concept of continuous flow, this step determines where work flow can be uninterrupted. This is usually done by combining steps into one (and perhaps having one individual perform several steps in sequence.)

5. Determine how to control work between areas of flow. This step is mostly about prioritizing work. Just as in manufacturing, pull systems or FIFO lanes are implemented to control work between steps.

6. Identify process improvements that need to be made to achieve the future state. This step involves team brainstorming. The team must generate as many ideas as possible to achieve the future state.

After a future state is developed, develop Value Stream Plan, which should be periodically monitored and updated on a monthly basis. Following PDCA, make adjustments to the plan as necessary.

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