Adding value to the customer
During my role as Clerical Officer within the Process Improvement Unit I have been able to gain knowledge around Lean methodology and understand that Lean is focused on adding value to the customer and that any activities that do not add value are considered to be waste.
The order of activities that add value comprise of what is called the value stream (the important parts of the process that creates the services for the customer). To ensure you are continually providing value to your customers it is important to try to improve your value streams by reviewing them.
A helpful way to achieve this is by splitting the activities into three categories:
- Value-added (any activity the customer is willing to pay for).
- Non-value added (any activity the customer would not want to pay for).
- Business-value added (any activity the customer would not want to pay for but is necessary and cannot be removed).
Part of the Process Improvement Unit’s remit is to run training in the use of improvement tools and techniques for our customers (members of staff) and the challenge is to ensure that our customers spend as much time as possible in these sessions being trained.
Therefore, our value-added activities include presentations and practical exercises in order for our customers to gain an understanding of Lean principles, process improvement concepts, different problem solving techniques as well as learning how to map process flow (depending upon the training session chosen).
Non value added activities would be if the trainer spent time during the training session setting up equipment and practical exercises and obtaining relevant handouts etc. delaying the training. To eliminate these non-value added processes I ensure everything is in place before the training session. Our practical exercises can take a while to set up, for example in one of our exercises we have six workstations requiring various pieces of equipment. Staff undertaking the training and the trainer can move directly to these set-up practical exercises and they can take place immediately.
We cannot remove business value-added processes such as having refreshments as they are necessary in a three-hour training session. However, I can make sure they are easily accessible, I can help with the drinks machine and of course ensure it is well stocked so there is no delay.
All of us within the Process Improvement Unit have a part to play in ensuring our value stream is doing what our customers need and less of what they don’t need.