Where to Start a Company’s Operational Excellence Journey?

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Boyan Angelov 2 days, 11 hours ago.

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    Boyan Angelov

    Hi Experts,

    ISSUE: I was asked to help a with some process mapping and improvement efforts in a small company and I wonder where/how to start.

    The company sells tailor made software and consists of 22 people – 1 sales person, 1 Project Manager and 20 developers. Currently they do not have any processes mapped and and are working as they know.

    Exact problem:
    1. 90% of all projects delivered are delivered with huge delays.
    2. Another thing is that they would like all their processes mapped and improved at a later stage.

    Possible approach:
    Now I wonder whether the approach I was thinking about is the most effective one.

    1. Start building the processes maps from top down. Level 0, Level 1 etc 2.
    2. Aim at the 90% delay issue.
    3. Aim at any additional issues found.

    The questions that I have are regarding what approach to take for step 1 – Can you please share some specific approach/tools so I can research more?
    Do you think I should use some other approach?
    What would you do in such case ?
    Please share some experience that you have.



    Boyan Angelov

    Maybe I can use the Baldrige excellence framework?
    Does anyone have experience with it? I would be grateful for some practical high level steps to take.



    It sounds like you have an immediate need to resolve your 90% issue for your business. I would start there before trying to map out all your processes. With a small team you aren’t going to be able to complete even a portion of mapping the entire business while still trying to keep the ‘wheels on the bus’.

    My recommendation would be to put together a high level Value Stream Map of your current development workflow. The scope should show from start of project through release of final product. There are lots of articles on this site on how to construct value stream maps as well as ‘Dr. Google’ searching will give you something you can leverage as a guideline and tool usage.

    Once the map is completed identify where in the map your biggest delays are coming from and then attack those areas, by gathering data or creating more detailed process steps, to see if you can impact your delivery time with some quick wins or logical solutions.

    One key is to also reach out to your customers and ask them for feedback. Perhaps they have some insight on what frustrates them, delays they experience, or where they perceive you are falling short.

    Once you get your processes flowing better you may find you have time to dive into company wide value stream or process mapping later.


    Chris Seider

    I’d begin to get a high level process map started with a team and begin to gather data on time stamps (or date) to get data to begin confirmation of “impressions” people will have.

    At the same time, be sure to confirm quickly validity of the data for preciseness AND see if the past impression of lateness can be confirmed for time. This will be good for understanding at least one primary metric of cycle time.


    Boyan Angelov

    Thank you very much, guys! I think I should follow the approach suggested. First, fix the big problem to free up resources and then focus on documenting the current organization state.

    I will follow up with more details when I have them.

    Meanwhile, please do not hesitate to share additional feedback or more ideas as well.

    Wish you a great weekend ahead!


    Boyan Angelov

    There’s further development on that story.
    I am still putting my thoughts in order and I would really appreciate your professional hints.

    It looks like the biggest pain point of the team is the development phase.
    Only one product will be targeted for now. There are 4 developers working on 10 different projects related to 1 product. The devs are profiled and 1 is professional in only 1 area.
    There is quite a big backlog of development tasks further to be done.
    The team is using a mixture of Agile and Kanban – Some tickets are being estimated, some not and placed on Kanban board. However, they are not pulled but pushed by the Project manager which ‘breaks’ the kanban idea.

    The top issue is the backlog of dev. tasks that are taking away any time possible to focus on current tasks. If you even assign the top priority ticket to a developer, he/she has so many priority 1 tasks so no focus can be placed on the new one and the delay can be counted in weeks.

    Could you please advise your approach in such case?
    How to focus on properly setting up a working structure that will enable clearing the backlog over time + focusing on any urgent/immediate issues needed?
    Any experience in such? Maybe even similar experience in a production environment to be able to fulfill huge backlog + incoming urgent requests with limited resources?
    Or maybe advise how to prove that additional developers are needed? – On this point I was thinking about a time study to check how much actual time is invested by dev, how much is wasted in additional tasks and then check the existing backlog time estimation?

    THANK YOU!!!

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