the lean office
Th e Le a n O ffi c e The philosophies, tools and methodologies associated with Lean Manufacturing are well documented and have been successfully applied in a broad range of businesses and industries. It is a process that focuses on the elimination of everything that is not beneficial to customers – all types of waste, plus any elements that prohibitflow. This process applies equally well to the office. In an office environment, the focus is on reducing the cycle time for all processes, especially those between order placement and receipt of payment. The objective is to optimize the flow of information and improve your company’s ability to collect, move and store information, utilizing the absolute minimum in resources necessary to fulfillcustomer expectations. w h y fO c us O n Le a n O ffi c e?
th e lean office
In a manufacturing company, taking an order, confirming credit, engineering parts, ordering materials and collecting payment represents 92% of total product cycle time, with manufacturing representing the remaining 8% of cycle time. Accordingly, 60% to 80% of product costs are related to non-production costs. Lean officecan dramatically reduce cost and cycle time, improving lead times, profitability and customer satisfaction. Examples of actual documented improvements include: • 80% reduction in paperwork processing time • 80% reduction in the time it takes for an order to reach production • 60% reduction in invoice generation time • 90% improvement in on-time performance • Up to 50% reduction in errors is yO u rfrO nT O ffi c e cOsTi n g yO u mO n e y? Research suggests that white collar knowledge workers are only 40% to 60% productive, suggesting significant possibilities for improvement. Office processes are often the most disorganized and non-lean part of any business. This inefficiency contributes to delays, miscommunications, red tape, unnecessary paperwork and ultimately, customer dissatisfaction.Typical types of waste in the office include: • Transporting documents from one area to another • Passing on incomplete information • Documents or e-mails waiting in an inbox for approval at various stages • Waiting for the customer to provide corrected information • Delivering an order to production with incomplete or incorrect information • Over processing information by picking it up andputting it down multiple times In our experience, the office represents the single largest opportunity for cycle time improvement and improved customer satisfaction.
Th e Lean Offi c e
O u r prO c ess The transformation to a lean office can often be more difficult than implementing lean in the factory. Through experience, we know office employees sometimes find it harder to recognize problems intheir systems that will convince them to change. Consequently, the process we use is geared to helping the organization understand and organize around “lean” as a cultural strategy.
d e fi n i n g c us TO m e r va Lu e
We begin by defining value from your customer’s perspective and how we perform against those values.
u n d e r s Ta n d i n g c O m pa n y prO c ess es
Next, we focus onunderstanding the company’s processes in order to enable us to clearly define the “value stream” or “as-is” model. This includes interviews with sales, accounting, customer service, buyers, engineering, material planning, shipping and receiving and various supervisors and managers. We often find issues and problems deeply embedded in the processes and assumptions that drive dayto-day operations.
m Od e L i n g T h e prO c ess es
Using the information gathered from employee interviews, we create valuestream maps that diagram the company’s current processes, including cost, resources involved, cycle time, lead time, touch time and throughput. These models assist us in visualizing the process and in identifying and eliminating waste. We then create a “future model,” examining each process...