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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Value Centric Work Analysis

How to consistently take up to 80% of the time out of a process

History Counts
Just like the story of the Easter Ham, how many of us have seen behaviors and beliefs that over time had significantly departed from best practices?

Perhaps even practiced a few ourselves?

“I don’t know who discovered water, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a fish,” highlights how hard improving your situation is when you are in the middle of it. Why, that is like doing an engine overhaul while inflight! (Another description)

What are some other descriptions you have heard about the difficulties of improving your existing situation?

Value centric work analysis is a fast, efficient way to consistently take 80% of the time out of a process.

What could that mean for your organization?

Flow Analysis
The first thing to do is make a list of every action your organization takes to get a specific result. This is not easy.

Work has a way of going around to many people. It gets batched and stopped. It gets scrutinized and approved. It gets broken and fixed. Work becomes rework on a regular basis.

To get different results, try a different point of view. Instead of observing, imagine you are the thing being created and document every change that way. If you start as a request by email,
  • Step 1 is you are sent,
  • Step 2  you arrive,
  • Step 3 you wait, 
  • Step 4 you are examined, 
  • Step 5 you wait, 
  • Step 6 you get worked on,
  • Step 7 you wait, 
  • Repeat steps 6 and 7 as often as usual,
  • Step 8 you are completed,
  • Step 9 you wait,
  • Step 10 you are sent to the next stop, maybe!
    Repeat to describe what actually happens until you have defined the entire work process.

    Now you’re ready to establish value!

    Value Added
    After you have an accurate work analysis, you need to figure out which steps are adding value. Normally this breaks down when the Sacred Cowboys make a last stand guarding the Sacred Cows, so let me make this easy for you.

    There are three conditions that must be met for an action to be considered valuable.

    First, the thing has to change physically. I have seen whole careers built around moving a piece of paper from this box to that box. That no longer qualifies. Neither does checking or scrutinizing. No improvement, no value.

    Second, you have to get it right the first time. Rework is evil, doesn’t matter why. All operations involved in rework don’t count.

    Finally, the customer has to care. Have you ever looked at how many operations in a process have no direct improvement to what the customer gets? This means bad times for many staff functions…at least as they are currently done.

    So at its simplest, a value centric work analysis is a table of steps in a process with the name of the task, the time it takes, and three boxes to check off whether it provides each of the three conditions defining value.

    Knowledge is Power
    Now you have a view of your operation that is decidedly different from what you have seen before. As you look at the non-value operations, some will be easy to delete. “Why did we ever start doing that?”

    Others may be mystical. “What will happen if we stop doing this?”

    Some may have been defined incorrectly. Change them. No harm, no foul.

    The remaining non-value operations are now sharply defined. The time has come to look at them critically, to eliminate them, to reduce the time required to do them, to think about using higher value replacements.

    The result is taking A LOT of the time out of process, often dramatically reducing the cost of operations, and creating some flex for finding higher value use for resources.

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