Let's Get Lean!
One of the things I find energising about my role as a Business Analyst is interacting with Stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts (SME’s). They’re the lifeblood of a project because they provide the direction and the detailed information required to shape the requirements. I think it’s because I approach each conversation, meeting or workshop as an opportunity to learn something new or move the project forward.
As Business Analysts we learn learn loads of tools and techniques to elicit requirements from Stakeholders and SME’s. The best BA’s and Change Professionals I’ve worked with are the one’s that are able to select the right tools for the right scenario.
This week I got to do something that I haven’t done for a while. I’ve been working on a project aiming to make improvements to a set of business processes that are driven by a case management tool. After speaking to some of the process SME’s it was clear they had lots of ideas on how to improve the process so I decided to organise and facilitate a Lean waste walk workshop to analyse a process and identify what is value add and what is waste.
Previous roles have afforded me the opportunity to train as a Lean Specialist and in the past I’ve facilitated 3 day workshops where SME’s would be locked in a room for 3 days to do all the required analysis. I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed using the Lean tools. In my opinion the Lean methodology is really easy to grasp as a basic level.
For this week’s waste walk I kept it really simple. After agreeing with the attendees what process we were going to look at, I spent the first half-hour or so going over how we were going to define waste, which is any activity the customer won’t want to pay for. It’s quite a strict definition and usually means over 90% of any given process will be classified as waste and gives us plenty of opportunity to make improvements.
Once everyone was in the same mindset, we mapped out the process at a relatively low level - not quite key stroke level but low enough to allow us to zero in on where the hot spots are. Then we went back through the process, including a demo of the system, categorising each step as either value add or waste. The result? 95% of the process was waste. Fantastic!! Lots to go at!!
The final stage was to brainstorm ideas to remove as much waste as possible. The SME’s were given the freedom to put forward any idea, free from constraints. As a group they came up with 28 ideas in total - a mixture of people, process and system changes which spanned the full process. One of the ideas we started to pilot in the workshop itself and will be testing the impacts over the course of the week.
Feedback from those in attendance was positive. Everyone said valued having an open forum to share their frustrations with the current process and their ideas on how to make it better. Other feedback suggested leading about Lean and the different types of waste was valuable and there was a positive reaction to implementing a change within the workshop itself.
With the fun part over and the output typed up, the hard work starts. Next steps for myself and the rest of the project team is to validate the ideas and prioritise them using impact versus effort, capture requirements as user stories and build an implementation plan.
Have you used Lean tools to elicit requirements? If so what was your experience? What’s your go to tool or approach for requirements gathering?I’d love to hear about your approaches and feedback on using waste walks like the one above. Please comment below, or contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
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