A Kaizen Event Story

By Jean Cunningham:

Just a quick story of a kaizen event….this one was in a service company. They wanted to improve cash flow by getting receivable more quickly. By mapping the current process with a few of the sales people, the accounts receivable clerk, and two interested others, in one day we were able to see that we:

  1. Did not have structure process for each activity
  2. Did not have clear customer supplier relationship
  3. Did not have a clear flow
  4. But were willing to improve through experimentation.

We had a process that had 3 value adding steps and 30 in total. But since we looped through the process so many times, we really had about 200 steps!

So we created a clear structure of gathering all key information up front (I call that “Once and be done”) and then ensuring we made contact very early in the process with our key supplier relationship….the accounts payable clerk at the customer!

So the steps were radically reduced, but even better, the entire team now understands what work was being performed, and why the new process is better.

Time will tell if they see the cash flow improvement they expect, but they already know they want to keep using the Kaizen approach.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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1 Comment

  1. Tricia Harris
    Twitter:
    says

    Hi Mark,

    We are currently working on a value stream mapping blog post for service businesses, so this is an interesting post – glad to have found your blog.

    We recently wrote an article about running kaizen events called “How to Run Kaizen Events to Improve Your Business Processes” in case you or any of your readers are interested.

    http://blog.lucidmeetings.com/blog/run-kaizen-events-to-improve-your-business-processes

    Thanks for the info!

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