A recent engagement with a call centre client involved looking at the task of processing claims. Unfortunately, in Ireland, many claims in this particular sector are submitted on paper forms. Our task was to map the process of approving these claims. Consequently, this would involve looking at all Lean tools including Kanban & Pull Systems.
First of all, we analysed the process into small element steps. As is the norm with paperwork applications, we found a number of errors and missing information. As a result, this required Joanne (the Claims Administrator) to either make a phone call, write an email or send a letter by post.
Secondly, it was while Joanne was sending a letter that the absence of a reliable supply system came to light. Joanne was out of A4 envelopes. Then, she apologised as she now had to walk about 100 metres to the stationary store to get some more envelopes. Amazingly, in an office of over 200 staff, she came back empty-handed and red-faced. “There are no A4 envelopes in the store – they’re due in tomorrow!”.
Luckily, Clare overheard the conversation and came to Joanne’s rescue. “You should have asked me. I’ve plenty under my desk”. Next, she produced a pile of A4 envelopes. Later on, Paul, who sat beside Jenny, returned from a break. Jenny told Paul about the embarrassing episode with the envelopes (which increased the process step timing). “That wouldn’t have happened if I had been here,” said Paul. “That has happened to me before – I always keep a store of envelopes under my desk”.
Then, the thought occurred that there were probably more envelopes in that office than would be consumed in months. Anyone who had lost time in the past had now created their own ‘store’ in the absence of a reliable system. As soon as those envelopes come in tomorrow, Joanne decided she was going to create her own store.
Using a Kanban System
For this reason, the solution was to implement a 2-bin Kanban system. Most of the staff needed to print letters before using the envelopes. The Call Centre created a 2-bin kanban ‘stores’ which was located at each printer and serviced twice a day by the stationary suppliers.
You may be interested in applying Kanban in your business and putting these ideas into practice. Enterprise Ireland offers support to clients through their Lean Business programmes.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the importance of having a Kanban System. You may also be interested in reading about our insights on the Implementing 5S: The First Steps Towards Workplace Efficiency and Getting to the Root Case: Barclay Chemicals. All our blogs are available to read here. Please connect with us on Linkedin and Twitter.