Continuous Improvement - Process Mapping

September 2, 2016

In the beginning…

In the spring of 2016 Kilmarnock Enterprise began its journey down the Lean path. We started by developing Continuous Improvement (CI) boards in each of our two shops. We’ve had an overwhelming response!  Ideas for improvement are pouring in from everyone. To date we’ve received well over 150 ideas, companywide, and have a fantastic implementation rate of around 60%!  That rate, combined with an idea-per-person rate of over 1.5 (in four months), puts Kilmarnock ahead of several world leading companies for innovation coming directly from its workforce.  That is something to be seriously proud of!

A new initiative…

The most recent Lean tool being implemented at Kilmarnock is Process Mapping.  A Process Map is a visual representation of the activity flow of any process. Last week we asked a group of people involved in the purchasing process to help us develop our first process map!  After a quick methodology overview, we locked ourselves in the boardroom with a blank wall and a few hundred multi-coloured sticky notes. We mapped out our entire current purchasing process (present state). By mapping and studying our current process, we can clearly identify any gaps, redundancy and waste that may be dragging the process down. 

This flow chart has been transferred to an electronic format and distributed to all members of the team. Everyone is now studying the map to develop ways to improve flow and eliminate waste.  We will be meeting again soon to map out the changes, or future state, that we’d like to implement.  

Making changes sustainable…

As everyone knows, it’s easy to point out how a process can be made better, but much harder to actually implement these changes.  Let’s be honest…it’s tough to change; especially when dealing with the deep-rooted habits we all have. That’s why the most critical part of any CI initiative is to try to change the culture and mindsets of the people involved. Even process improvements that have been successfully integrated must be maintained so we don’t fall back into old habits. Fortunately we have another great CI tool to help us -- the Plan/Do/Check/Act cycle, an important key to success for any improvement initiative. The constant cycling provides easy follow up to ensure changes are being adhered to, and allows new ideas to be explored, implemented and added to the cycle. The final result is a more efficient process, which allows Kilmarnock Enterprise to better serve its valued customers. 

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue our journey down the Lean path.

Continuous Improvement - Process Mapping