As we map business workflows, we perform a value/non-value assessment of the work performed. Only about 20% of work has value in most organizations and we see common causes of non-value work. Most organizations see some version of the most common causes of non-value work outlined below.
10 common causes of non-value work.
1. Stop using paper.
Paper needs to be handled, copied, secured, scanned, filed, accessed, retained and, finally, disposed of. These are all non-value activities. Paper is also expensive and causes harm to the environment.
2. Stop sending information.
The latest, needed information should be organized and stored so that it is readily accessible to authorized users, like a shared drive. Users access what they need when they need it; they should not be relying on or waiting for someone else to send or deliver information.
3. Stop checking the checker.
Reviewing and checking work has some value in preventing downstream problems. But second or third checks add no value to the process flow or the output. Excessive review and checks slow the process down while supporting less thorough attention and accountability by the first party.
4. Start trusting your employees.
Frequent review and approval of employee work shows a lack of trust and slows the process down. Reviewers and approvers who are not subject matter experts provide no value to these activities. Rather than constantly checking up on employee work, better to focus on designing the process the best achieve its purpose.
5. Stop using informal email.
Templates ensure concise and consistent transaction of the right and complete information, especially relative to repetitive information transfer. Informal emails lack context, which amplifies misunderstanding, confusion and increases the chances that something important will be missed or forgotten.
i6. Start focusing on prevention.
Repetitive problems can consume 80-90% of work effort due to correcting or reworking. An additional effort of 10-20% spent on prevention can eliminate all or most the repetitive problem wasted time. Rework and correction is non-value added; prevention adds value.
7. Start fully utilizing information and workflow systems.
We typically only utilize less than 30% of the capabilities of the tools (IMS, Workflow) available to us. Not fully utilizing capabilities results in going around the process, costly and wasteful manual activities, inconsistent execution and outcomes, and drastically slowed processes. Errors and omissions increase the more process users deviate from the defined process, causing delays as rework and corrections must be made.
8. Stop leadership’s day-to-day process involvement.
Leadership should approve processes for the subject matter experts to execute without interference. Leadership talent and capabilities should be focused on Business Strategy. Align work to suitable capability and responsibility across the Enterprise.
9. Stop hunting or wishing for tools.
Provide the right tools for the tasks when and where needed; teach the process users to consistently use them. Manual labor cost involved in repetitive work must always be evaluated against the cost of tools and their maintenance. Any time a process must be paused to gather the required tools is non-value, wasted time.
10. Start automating repetitive work.
The more human intervention involved in a process, the greater the opportunity of failure. Human beings are 89% effective on their best days completing repetitive tasks. Simplify and automate processes whenever possible, and transfer employee focus to the innovation, prevention and creative activities for which they are best suited.
We know from experience that most organization workflows contain significant non-value work. The list of starts and stops above is straightforward and simple to understand, just not always easy to do. The organization that aggressively attacks non-value work will excel competitively in the long run.