Tackling Inefficiencies The Lean Way

9 December 2009

With further pressure to increase efficiency in the public sector, driven by the Treasury’s public value programme, CMC’s David Bosley, who spearheads the business process improvement team, is in great demand.

Over the past decade, David has seen much change in the approaches taken to optimise business processes. “Traditionally, the emphasis has been on mapping processes to purely capture the business operational tasks being undertaken and produce a snapshot of the ‘as is’ state,” he explains.

“Where analysis has been undertaken, focus has been to streamline them in the context of the processes themselves, without real consideration of the business environment they operate in or customer value they deliver. Increasingly, and rightly so, emphasis is on continual service improvement with a significant focus on delivering customer value by eliminating waste and making the best use of people and other resources across a wide range of business sectors. To achieve this, it is more important than ever that organisations document their processes and look at them with a critical eye asking ‘what customer value is being delivered?’”.

Currently working on external customer projects as well as managing the CMC internal process improvement initiative, David has experience of a broad range of methods from which he develops a bespoke approach to each assignment. He is an ITIL V3 expert in Service Management with an ITIL V2 red badge and is qualified in IDEF and BPMN methods. A practitioner of MSP and Prince2, he is also an advocate of the complementary LEAN, Six Sigma and Soft Systems methodologies.

“LEAN is an organisational way of thinking, driven by employees identifying and implementing better ways to do things, which will meet strategic objectives,” David explains. “It is based on the dual principles of increasing customer value and eliminating waste in the process. However, you still need to be able to identify the ‘what’s in it for me’ principle to engage people and this is where Soft Systems Methodology comes in. Process change may require significant systemic cultural changes within an organisation, and Soft Systems thinking allows you to map the process (system thinking) in the context of the ‘real world’ environment to define the root problem, test the proposed changes under simulation and engage people.”

For a recent NHS customer, David took a Soft Systems approach to ascertain whether cultural issues were causing the poor response rate to impact assessments. Using this tool it quickly became apparent that the underlying issues were, in fact, a lack of visibility of the process, little appreciation of its value, conflicting interests between stakeholders and a poor understanding of the benefits. David solved the problem by rebuilding an understanding of the value by developing a sense of community and a culture of value-driven change to build a systemic and sustainable solution, rather than introducing more process steps or inappropriate IT tools.

A slightly more traditional approach to process improvement was taken with a government customer, who lacked any formal IT transition or operational support processes for its procurement system, resulting in duplication and risk to effective operations. In association with key customer staff, an ITIL- based transition and operational support process was developed to integrate with other departments and create more synergy between process stages. By involving key staff, the solution created was capable of sustaining systemic growth and momentum for Continual Service Improvement based on an industry-recognised model.

David is clear that there is yet more CMC can do to drive benefits for our customers. In his view, the critical element is to draw on the right aspects of each service improvement method in order to tailor the approach for each customer.

David Bosley