Take a moment to consider all the tasks in your company – are they co-ordinated perfectly? Do they occur at exactly the right time to deliver your product or service to the right customer, on time, every time and in perfect condition?
Lean organisations understand and capitalise on how all of their tasks work together to provide value to their customers. This does not happen by accident – they are the result of a very conscious awareness that every activity is really a process. Materials and information flowing through a series of well-connected processes deliver a product or service to a specific customer. This is call the Value Stream. A Value Stream Map (VSM) is the graphical visual representation of the value stream. The VSM identifies 3 states of processes: the current state, the ideal state and the next future state.
The VSM is always viewed from the customer’s perspective. In analysing the value stream, you start where the stream ends (the customer) and track it all the way back to the smallest tributary (the source of raw materials).
Everyone in the company has a role in the value stream and each person has a responsibility to know how their job contributes to deliver value to the customer in the most efficient way.
They sought to make improvements to their sales order flow process and used VSM to provide value to their customers.
This company specialise in the design, supply and installation of storage equipment for the industrial and commercial sectors. Founded in 1976, they are Ireland’s largest storage equipment company with over 30 full time staff with offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast. Storage Systems provide valuable storage solutions including consultancy, planning, installation and maintenance for a warehouse, distribution centre as well as shelving for hospitals, museums, offices and libraries.
During Covid 19, they have continued to operate normally with their online ordering system. As with all companies, they have taken all precautionary measures to protect their customers, staff and surrounding communities. With over 9,000 products online, they have pivoted their business to now sell social distancing solutions including anti-bacterial shelving and staff lockers as well as protective screens, floor mats and floor marking.
The business identified a number of issues regarding their sales order process. They wanted to streamline the process from order intake to installation on the customer’s site. By using value stream mapping, the business wanted to analyse certain processes including, sales, design, order entry and contracts management.
Following a Kaizen event with the team to document all issues, the process was mapped from quotation to delivery of the product to the customer. Their current situation revealed that there was:
It became clear that an online system was needed to capture all data and enquiries. Automatic notifications would mean less duplication of emails and phone calls from the sales team to the client. The VSM carried out by Storage Systems helped the company to standardise their processes.
You may be interested in applying Lean thinking to your business and putting these ideas into practice?
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