Value Added Flow Analysis

How to consistently take up to 80% of the time out of a process

History Counts
Just like the story of the Easter Ham, how many of us seen behaviors and
beliefs that over time had significantly departed from best practices?

Perhaps even practiced a few ourselves?

“I don’t know who discovered water, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a
fish,” highlights how hard improving your situation is when you are in
the middle of it. Why, that is like doing an engine overhaul while
inflight! (Another description)

What are some other descriptions you have heard about the difficulties of improving your existing situation?

Value added flow analysis is a fast, efficent way to consistently take 80% of the time out of a process.

What could that mean for your organization?

Flow Analysis
The first thing to do is make a list of every action your organization takes to get a specific result. This is not easy.
Work has a way of going around to many people. It gets batched and
stopped. It gets scrutinized and approved. It gets broken and fixed.
Work becomes rework on a regular basis.

After you get your rough list of how a task is accomplished, go back and
figure out what happens between each action. If you send a request for
work by email,

  • Step 1 is you send it,
  • Step 2 is it arrives,
  • Step 3 is it waits,
  • Step 4 is it gets looked at,
  • Step 5 is it waits,
  • Step 6 is it gets worked on,
  • Step 7 is it waits,
  • Repeat steps 6 and 7 as often as usual,
  • Step 8 is it gets completed,
  • Step 9 is it waits,
  • Step 10 is it gets sent to the next stop, maybe!

Repeat to describe what actually happens until you have defined the entire process.

Now you’re ready to establish value!

Value Added
After you have an accurate Flow Analysis, you need to figure out which
steps are adding value. Normally this breaks down when the Sacred
Cowboys make a last stand guarding the Sacred Cows, so let me make this
easy for you.

There are three conditions that must be met for an action to be considered valuable.

First, the thing has to change physically. I have seen whole careers
built around moving a piece of paper from this box to that box. That no
longer qualifies. Neither does checking or scrutinizing. No improvement,
no value.
Second, you have to get it right the first time. Rework is evil, doesn’t
matter why. All operations involved in rework don’t count.
Finally, the customer has to care. Have you ever looked at how many
operations in a process have no direct improvement to what the customer
gets? This means bad times for many staff functions…at least as they are
currently done.

So at its simplest, a value added flow analysis is a table of steps in a
process with the name of the task, the time it takes, and three boxes
to check off whether it provides each of the three conditions defining

Knowledge is Power
Now you have a view of your operation that is decidedly different from
what you have seen before. As you look at the non-value operations, some
will be easy to delete. “Why did we ever start doing that?”

Others may be mystical. “What will happen if we stop doing this?”

Some may have been defined incorrectly. Change them. No harm, no foul.

The remaining non-value operations are now sharply defined. The time has
come to look at them critically, to eliminate them, to reduce the time
required to do them, to think about using higher value replacements.

The result is taking A LOT of the time out of process, often
dramatically reducing the cost of operations, and creating some flex for
finding higher value use for resources.

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