Chapter 4. Make Processes Transparent to Expose Waste

With Tim Williams, Lisa Custer,and Chris Kennedy

It's hard to be aggressive when you don't know who to hit.

Vince Lombardi

If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Chances are good that the project you've selected involves a process that raises one or both of the following questions: Why does it take so long? and Why does it cost so much?

A global IT support company we recently worked with was in just that situation. After a recent merger, turnover in the sales force topped 15 percent, and even long-term the company anticipated having 1000-plus new hires per year. Rapid onboarding was a priority, yet "provisioning" of new employees—getting them linked in to all the systems and equipment they needed to be productive, such as computers, cell phone, network access, business credit cards, and so on—often took more than two weeks. The company estimated that these "lost" weeks were costing $400,000 annually.

To solve this problem, we helped this company bring together a crossfunctional team of people involved in hiring and onboarding. The team painstakingly traced the process step by step, creating a map on the wall of their conference room as they went. They documented the information that was requested in each step, printing out electronic forms, then tacking them up at the appropriate step.

Throughout this exercise, the team identified patterns of repeated handoffs, including ...

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