The public, not-for-profit and charitable sectors have faced a decade of tough financial conditions that meant finding ways to do more with less. Whilst this pressure remains, it is now compounded by an ever-increasing demand from customers for more modern services and digital engagement. This has put the pressure on organisations to completely transform the way they deliver their services. When change is not yet viewed as ‘business as usual’ by the workforce, it can create a sense of uncertainty amongst staff that will impact on your ability to effectively deliver.
We are often approached by organisations who have attempted internal improvement work themselves to transform service delivery and achieve organisational efficiencies. However they are disheartened by disappointing results from previous improvement projects. The situation we most often hear described to us is ‘change fatigue’. This is the result of lots of effort, but unsatisfactory outcomes. They do not always fully understand why they are not making more impact and being successful.
This has led Ad Esse to develop a Lean diagnostic methodology; a rapid assessment of the current state of your organisation using the principles of Lean Thinking. We assess the possible benefits and improvements you could derive from applying Lean tools to your processes, and from applying the Lean philosophy and management culture to the way the organisation is managed.
We have used this successfully in numerous organisations, enabling them to identify priorities for improvement based on a full understanding of all the factors that may have an impact. Our approach fully involves your team, with effective skills transfer throughout from our consultant to your staff.
Although the precise tools and techniques used within a Lean diagnostic are tailored to the particular client situation and improvement focus, the following stages are always undertaken.
Vision and Strategy
From the outset, the project scope, objectives and desired outcomes are agreed with the client’s senior management team, ensuring alignment with the organisation vision and strategy. This is to be clear whether the driver is to reduce costs, increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction or something else. Our approach is to “work with” rather than “do to” the client to ensure a greater sense of buy-in, transfer skills and sustain improvements. Project communication actions are agreed to ensure staff understand and are positively engaged. Additionally, we provide training in the principles of Lean Thinking to ensure that senior staff are equipped with an understanding of Lean that will enable them to support their teams.
Customers and Stakeholders
Change programmes must be aligned to the needs of customers and other stakeholders. Customer satisfaction surveys can provide some insight into how customers feel, and can be a useful input to the diagnostic, but there is no substitute for looking at the real customer experience. We use Customer Journey Mapping to understand how the customer feels at each of the touch points with the organisation enabling us to visualise interactions and assess their effectiveness in delivering value.
Our approach is focused on what delivers customer value and how that value flows through the process to the customer. Key high-level processes are identified and, using performance data, priorities for improvement are identified.
Value Stream Mapping (VSM) differs from process mapping in that it shows the flow of information and material, interruptions to that flow (e.g. delays), customer demand and process capacity. Each step is assessed as adding value to the customer or not. VSM enables everyone to interpret the steps of a process and where to focus improvements.
Activities are included that support and reinforce our understanding of the value streams:
- Waste Walks: these involve ‘attaching’ ourselves to whatever passes through the process to see where waste occurs (e.g. unnecessary printing and scanning).
- Day in Life Of (DILO): involves shadowing staff in their role in order to gain qualitative insights into their work.
- Data Collection and Analysis: as in an audit, we analyse available data to inform our understanding. Where data is missing, a data collection plan would be created and implemented (e.g. recording reasons for each customer contact).
We are frequently asked ‘how do I measure performance?’ and no diagnostic is complete without an assessment of the organisation’s efficiency and performance. Almost all organisations will already have a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which may be prescribed by internal and/or external targets. However, these measures may focus on process (“how many calls did we answer?”) rather than on customer value (“how many problems did we fix?”). True performance is only that relating to the delivery of customer value.
In order to have a successful improvement programme, the organisation needs to be ‘culturally ready’ to accept change. Any deep-rooted management, leadership or communications problems will be a barrier to sustained improvement. We conduct a cultural assessment of the organisation to assess how team performance is managed, how information flows, the extent to which the culture allows and encourages innovation and bottom-up ideas for improvement. This is undertaken using structured 1:1 interviews with managers, short focus groups with staff and an internal voice of the customer tool called A:B analysis, which enables us to assess internal relationships.
Although clients are keen to compare their performance with other similar organisations, we believe that the focus has to be on improving the internal current state first. This follows an intensive analysis of current performance data as well as activity volumes, process cycle times, demand and capacity for services and staffing levels, which enables us to estimate the financial and operational benefits that implementing Lean could deliver.
The diagnostic findings are delivered and key recommendations are proposed. With senior management buy-in, the next steps are agreed and a Master Schedule is developed which sets out a prioritised Lean implementation plan.
The benefits of a Lean diagnostic to your organisation are significant. The outputs include:
- A full set of value stream maps of your processes that identifying value, capacity and wastes
- An assessment of the effectiveness of leadership and the impact this is having on performance
- Analysis of your staff utilisation showing how time is divided between different activities, and the proportion of time spent on actual value-adding activity
- A set of measures that will enable you to track the performance of your organisation through the improvement activities
- Staff who are trained in the use of the tools and techniques required of a Lean diagnostic
- A quantified business case for the financial and operational benefits Lean could deliver
- A plan for implementation showing you where to start improving and where to focus most of your effort.
How can Ad Esse help?
So, what do we look at in a full diagnostic? The answer is everything that is needed to understand the organisation and how it delivers customer value.
Ad Esse has undertaken diagnostics for clients in health, local government, housing and charities, enabling them to gain a full health check of their organisation for a relatively small investment. This insight has allowed them to focus change activities in the right areas to deliver rapid and significant improvements.
We are confident in the financial benefits Lean can deliver, and we will show you how they can be achieved rather than just making empty promises. Based on our previous work we are confident that you can achieve significant savings and return on investment within a year.