You want “Creative Savings”? START DOING THIS NOW!

By Ryan King, CIO at Power Solutions International

The 2 Letter word that can make everyone shutter in business introducing “Process Map”! It can be the difference between success and failure. It can be the difference between spending thousands or tens of thousands, to just pennies. It can be the difference between you losing your job or keeping it! Projects go off the tracks because we rush and assume too many things and do not take the time to understand every miniscule little process. BTW: you do not need a project to start creating your process maps for
your processes.

Every company has tiny little secrets that can suck the live out of a department/company and then over time it is absorbed and the waste and confusion, becomes an everyday part of work day! I have also seen it where the employees fight to keep the waste on their work load, even when it clearly is a waste of everyone’s time and effort. It is like a pacifier to a baby! They need it and do not want to give it up!

Most companies have an issue on how to start or where to start. I would like to present a 5 step plan that will answer those questions and along the way, change every work environment or department and create savings that would impress any manager and better yet, create an “AWARENESS” of what each department does daily and how they are doing it. This goes for the everyday processes that people just believe you have to do no matter what.

Create a standard template that you can use every time. Do not be so crazy to think it cannot be modified. Every situation is a little different, it goes like this!

(BTW: use the “KIS” method. Keep it Simple)
Step 1 – I do this
Step 2 – I do this and so on!
For steps use a rectangle or a square.
For a YES or NO or question use a diamond. You can use PowerPoint, Word, or better yet Visio or you can purchase or find a free software that does process maps.

Assign one person to one process. You want an example of finding what to process map out first – it does not matter! Just get going! My friend Mike Stanard always says “You need action to make action!” If you are manufacturing company making a widget, for example you can start on how you ship your widgets out. If there are two forms of shipping like small parcel shipments or LTL then break this out into two process maps. If you over complicate or merge two processes together, when they should be in reality two, your success or understanding will be drowned out with too much information. Do not be lazy! Take the time to understand both processes!
Word of caution do not assign someone that is over that process to do the process map. They will leave items out or cover up items because they feel A: it is not important or B: they want to cover it up or C: it is so muscle memory that they overlook it all together. Just a cautionary note.

Have a meeting no longer than two hours and review the process map. Let everyone see the process and walk through each step. Involve departments it touches, upstream and downstream and involve most importantly the “IT” department. IT has the tools and if you have the right IT staff, they can say why are you doing it this way and here is an easier way! The IT department if they are awesome and are aware of the business issues, they will surprise you with what they can do and how they can use technology to revolutionize your processes! Sometimes the most obvious slaps you in the face!

Having the right people in the room is key for the most Creative Savings!

This is very important – ASK WHY ON EVERY STEP! People need to be challenged and then challenged again. If they say “this is how we have always done it” then dig deeper on asking more questions. You have to make everyone get out of their comfort zone to get that “Creative Savings” Then set a date and let them set the realistic date for completion or more fact finding. This is a journey that has completions, but you do not want your team to hate you for flogging them at every meeting. Goal setting is a must. People hate to just meet – set a goal on what is expected from this process map exercise. Is it eliminating 10% of waste? It could be for training purposes to understand the business better?

TAKE ACTION! Get “EASY WINS” – if there are four steps that no one knows why and the upstream people and downstream people do not know why they are doing it, then stop doing! You do not have to be a rocket science to get that Creative Savings, sometimes all you have to do is stop doing things you have always done in the past. It is like spring cleaning – if you have not used it for a certain time period sometimes it takes the manager to say “throw it out!” STOP DOING THAT!

Track what you have changed and update the process map! Make noise when you have an “EASY WIN” people like to see positive and the reward from a compliment goes a long way in the work place. There will be other wins along the way that are more time consuming, however; stay focused and stick to the process map. You want your process to make sense and have no grey areas.

“Debrief” After 3 weeks or 3 months review the process map and the changes made. You need to debrief and see if it is working or not. I like to show the team this YouTube clip from the Navy Blue Angels on debriefing: it is an eye opener on how to communicate and understand their role better.

So go Process MAP and get some Creative Savings!