The basic types of Process Optimization projects are: Quick Win, Root Cause Exploration™, Rapid Process Streamlining™, Kreative Solution™, Intelligent Process Management™ and Comprehensive Project Management™.
Spend a little time considering your processes, then let Kure help you improve them!
Wondering what type of project you need? Matching the proper project type to your goals will maximize your effectiveness and speed. But where to start? Let’s start with four basic types of projects that focus on common process problems.
Pick the process that gives you the most grief. Specifically, what do you dislike about it or what do you need? Then, there’s an optimization project type best suited to address your needs.
Best Project Type
Simple, rapid improvement and/or workplace organization
Solve a specific problem by understanding root causes
Simplify a complex process to significantly reduce time and rework
Create a new, innovative way to accomplish an objective with no existing process
Create a framework to manage and monitor an existing process
Plan, manage and execute complex implementation projects
Quick Win Project
A Quick Win project is for a narrowly scoped process and focuses on obvious solutions you can implement rapidly at little cost or disruption. Opportunities for improvement are identified by first understanding what’s happening in the process.
To do this, consider the 8 Wastes—remember the DOWNTIME memory aid? Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Extra Processing—you can find a lot of examples in nearly any process, but then consider which ones make the most significant difference. Next, understand the causes underlying these issues to help you develop Quick Win improvements.
Also, maybe there’s a lot of clutter in your process, making it difficult to find what you need and get the work done. You might need to implement 5S, which can clean up a disorganized workspace and make it more intuitive, increasing productivity while reducing effort. The Quick Win project identifies fast and easy ways to reduce waste and better organize your process.
Root Cause Exploration™ Project
Do you have a problem to solve, and the root causes are unknown? Then, this is a Root Cause Exploration™ project. This path is a very flexible and robust approach to addressing the root causes of various problems. With the general-purpose Root Cause Exploration™ project, you can solve the majority of the issues with unknown causes.
However, the better we define the problem, the more we can adapt the path and increase the project’s speed and effectiveness. For example, within the Root Cause Exploration™ project, you can follow two tailored paths: Cycle Time Reduction or Error/Defect Reduction.
Cycle Time Reduction
If your process takes too long to complete, then this is a Cycle Time Reduction project.
Cycle time is the time elapsed from when the work starts until it’s complete. Many processes grow overly complex and cumbersome over time and need to be “refreshed,” tossing out elements no longer required. This path includes Process Simplification in which you look for non-value-added steps and eliminate some of them. Also included is targeted problem solving to address the process of Bottlenecks and the actions that consume the most time. The result is to improve the flow of work, leading to reduced cycle time and increased productivity.
Does your process often produce errors or defects? This is an Error/Defect Reduction project. If there’s a lot of internal rework making you redo things you’ve already completed. If work flowing through your process often needs revision, that can create a lot of work for people. This path will help you understand the Rolled Throughput Yield.
Rolled Throughput Yield is the percent of work done without rework or revision. You may be surprised to find that even though nearly all the output from your process is correct, only 10% got through without needing some rework! This is often called the hidden factory and is common in both manufacturing and service processes. In this path, you’ll target your most painful sources of rework, understand the root causes and develop targeted solutions.
Rapid Process Streamlining™ Project (Coming Soon to Kure)
Do you need to simplify a complex process to significantly reduce time and rework? This is a Rapid Process Streamlining™ project. Processes often need to be streamlined because they naturally become more complex over time.
As processes operate, problems happen and are often remedied by adding to the process. Over several years, a process that was once simple becomes unwieldy. As a result:
Cycle time—the time it takes to complete the process from start to finish—is much longer than desired.
Much rework happens within the process, frustrating participants and slowing the process.
Process complexity makes it challenging to learn the process, making it difficult to train new participants.
Just as a newly organized garage almost immediately accumulates clutter, a simple process gets messier over time.
Rapid Process Streamlining™ refers to doing it not just fast but very effectively. The approach grew out of a business need to streamline an existing process within a week while the process continued to operate, resulting in a substantially better process at the start of the following week.
This doesn't require you to move that fast, but you can if you want. The major strength of this approach is more than just speed—it's incredibly thorough.
Like most process optimization approaches, Kure focuses on value-added and non-value-added steps, essentially deciding on what's needed and what takes time and effort. But that’s where the similarity ends. Other approaches focus on eliminating the non-value-added steps, often resulting in a lot of anguish trying to eliminate steps that aren’t needed. Still, we can’t seem to do without.
In most complex processes, the value-added steps account for about 5% of the total steps, so if the process has 100 steps (not uncommon at the operational level), there are 95 non-value-added steps and only 5 value-added steps. Removing the non-value-added steps can take a lot of time with marginal results.
Kure’s approach is to initially presume that only the value-added steps remain, challenging the improvement team to determine how to make those steps successfully work together with a minimum number of additional (non-value-added) steps. We can think of those few added steps as the “glue” that enables the small number of value-added steps to work together.
Kure directly addresses two significant challenges through process streamlining:
Process steps not defined in sufficient detail
The need to address problems found during process operation
To quickly eliminate as much waste from a process, we need to map it at a very detailed level—a level that approaches work instructions. Think about the level of detail you'd need to describe how to do your job to someone new. If they're covering for you while you go on vacation, you wouldn’t want to come back to a mess so that you'd tell them everything. This could take a long time, but Kure makes it easy.
Kure begins with a high-level Process Map–perhaps 4 to 10 steps, or the level of detail you'd use to describe the process to a visitor–enough detail to get the general flow without boring them to death!
Then for each step, we identify the subject matter expert for that step–usually someone who's been doing that job for a while. We also identify a non-expert; this can be nearly anyone unfamiliar with the work. Together they detail the step into as many smaller steps as needed to describe how the work is done completely:
The subject matter expert describes how the work is done to the non-expert.
The non-experts ensure the explanation is complete, asking for more detail.
If there are various subject matter experts, this can be done concurrently for all the high-level steps, producing a detailed process map in hours, not days!
The detailed Process Map should display where problems happen. This will often be evident when a decision box (a diamond) checks for something and finds it wrong. Then the process branches back to correct. Kure calls these conditions loopbacks.
Example loopbacks might include:
Discovering that some customer information is missing or incorrect
Discovering that an invalid product number has been ordered
Discovering that the customer has been promised an item that's out of stock
These loopbacks are all error conditions that should be eliminated. We attempt to eliminate all the loopbacks by solving the underlying problem. If we cannot eliminate the loopback, we try to make it happen less and be less severe when it does happen. Using this approach, most, if not all, of the loopbacks can be eliminated, so they need not be handled in the new process, making it easier to streamline.
The ideal process with minimum non-valued steps and the loopback elimination work are merged into a final streamlined process. Next, we write new work instructions, detailed enough to pilot the new process. The pilot will either prove the new process or highlight further improvements needed.
All this can be done in less than a week with the proper preparation, but it’s a pretty intense effort! Kure allows you to optimize at your own pace but will always steer you to the best functionality and much less complexity.
Kreative Solution™ Project (Coming Soon to Kure)
If you need a new, innovative way to accomplish an objective with no problem to solve, then this is a Kreative Solution™ project.
This path provides a way for users to solve problems that do not require Root Cause Exploration™, either because the causes are known or because there is no existing problem to analyze.
For example, a new customer requirement must be met but there is nothing wrong in the current process. Or, we understand the causes to a problem due to recent improvement efforts and now we need to develop innovative solutions to make major increases in performance.
This path helps you clearly define the opportunity, determine how to measure or observe the outcome, explore numerous creative alternatives then implement the best solutions.
Intelligent Process Management™ Project (Coming Soon to Kure)
Do you need to create a framework to manage and monitor an existing process? Intelligent Process Management™ is a systematic approach to ensure business processes operate effectively and efficiently.
Often managers feel their job is to manage people, which may be so, but that’s not the whole story. In managing people we are trying to get something done, which happens through people working in a process. What many managers miss is that they need to manage the process, not just the people!
So what does it really mean to manage a process? It’s a lot more than just watching it happen, although that’s a start. You need to know what to look for and what to do if you don’t like the results. Kure’s Intelligent Process Management™ lays it all out for you, providing:
A Process Map (to describe how the process works)
A set of metrics (to measure the results)
A Process Walk (to look for improvement opportunities)
A Monitoring Plan (to watch the process and let you know how it’s doing)
A Response Plan (to tell what to do if something goes wrong)
Armed with this, you can manage your process with confidence and often improve a process that already may be pretty good. Even better, when the people who work the process understand how process management works, they will be easier to manage as well!
Comprehensive Project Management™ Project (Coming Soon to Kure)
Need to plan, manage and execute complex implementation projects? Comprehensive Project Management™ is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve the project goals within defined constraints, such as time and budget.
The term project management has become terribly over-used, to the point where much confusion surrounds the topic.
According to the Association for Project Management: Project management is the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experience to achieve specific project objectives according to the project acceptance criteria within agreed parameters. Project management has final deliverables that are constrained to a finite timescale and budget.
That’s a mouthful, though accurate. It sounds like there can be a lot to project management, which is in fact true. Many software providers claim to offer project management, when in fact they only offer a portion. The portion most often provided is a means of managing tasks, which is certainly important, but there is much more to project management than a glorified “to-do” list!
Kure’s Comprehensive Project Management™ provides a more complete approach including:
Goal Planning (specifying timing, cost and scope)
Task Identification (all the things needed to be done)
Task Networks (how the tasks relate – the order in which things have to happen)
Task Assignments and Durations (who will do the work and how long it will take)
These are all inputs – Kure will guide you through how to do each of them. After this is done, you will automatically receive:
A Calendar (showing when each task should be worked and when work will be completed)
A Critical Path Analysis (showing which tasks are critical to timely completion and which are more flexible)
A Probability Analysis (showing the likelihood of various completion times)
If you like what you see, you can just work the plan, which can be adjusted if surprises happen (they nearly always do). If you need the work to be done sooner, Kure will guide you in finding ways to do so.
These are a few of the most common project types. Soon we’ll be adding more Project Types into Kure—each providing you with an easier, faster journey to Process Optimization. You can improve nearly anything you don’t like about a process. Sometimes, when you improve one aspect, others follow. When you simplify your process, you may also reduce rework, improve results and get the work done faster—without working harder at all!
Spend a little time considering your processes, then let Kure help you improve them!