A student is given a project to stream line a process. What does this mean?
I believe that this type of poorly defined projects come when organizations are trolling for projects rather than using the organizational performance gaps to pull for projects. But either way, this was an assigned project, so what do they mean?
The ideas that came up were to “lean it out”, remove the non-value process steps…. What I did not see in this assignment is why should it be “streamlined?” is it to remove labor requirements? is it to speed up the process? or as the student wondered, is it to increase the throughput? If you are trained in only lean, you might ask if these questions matter. Why not just start removing NVA steps and it should get better.
In the Lean Six Sigma world, it does matter. Unless you understand how your project will be judged as a success, it is impossible to know what you should focus on improving. If the goal is to reduce the lead time, then you need to baseline the lead time and then collect ideas on what causes longer time durations.
If the goal is to reduce the cost of the process by removing labor requirements. In this case, we would focus on the process areas that seem to have excessive labor usage. Areas that have a wide range of labor usage are probably opportunities to improve.
If the goal is through put increases, then I want to collect data to determine where the constraint is located. In this case you look for where queues are building up, where the flow rate of transactions varies a lot. this is an area that does not show a stable flow.
It is important to move away from problem statements that say “make it better” because they do not give guidance on how better is determined.