"You could say that a value stream is like a flowing river that has no sharp bends, so the water runs smoothly. Whatever is downstream receives what flows from upstream with little effort. Each process in an organization can think of itself as part of the river as it passes its output to the next downstream internal customer. The ideal situation rarely exists; there are sharp bends or restrictions in the process that impede a smooth flow. Lean utilizes the proper tools needed to make work flow downstream as smoothly as possible."Workflow Optimization, Process Analysis
The idea behind an Optimum Office is not just better use of technology and efficient software automation, the physical processes each person goes through during their work day must also be considered. Workflow analysis and optimization carefully considers the overall efficiencies within and between the tasks that make up a service or product.
Administrative and manufacturing process analysis combined with automation and custom computer software provide tools to optimize time, effort and cost. Value stream management is a process for planning and linking 'lean initiatives' through systematic data capture and analysis. The idea is not to work faster, but to streamline the flow to have the work move faster through the value stream. http://www.lean.org/WhatsLean/
Lean refers to a manufacturing and administration paradigm based on continuously minimizing waste and maximizing flow. At its core, lean tools eliminate all variation within your existing office processes.
The ultimate target is the total elimination of waste, which is anything that adds costs or time without adding value to the customer.
Advantages of Continuous Flow:
- Shorter lead times
- Drastic reduction of work-in-process (and piles of paper on desks)
- Drastic reduction of queue times
- Ability to identify problems and fix them earlier
- Reduced work unit and paper conveyance
- Reduced paper handling, and number of people handling
- Flexibility in meeting changes in customer demand
- Easier detection of problems
- Less worker frustration
(only what is needed, just when needed and in the exact amount. JIT- just in time.)
See Automation for a description of previous workflow optimization projects.