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“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”


“If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

By Henry Ford.

Establishing a solid foundation of work is difficult. In this case, we want to treat the culture of Continuous Improvement, but for administrative environments, also known as Lean Office.

Standardization is the key word of Continuous Improvement. To standardize, implies being able to undertake operations in the same way every time, and all in the same way.

The object of study is to eliminate operations that do not add value to the administrative processes on which we were working.

After all, there is one thing that is very clear: the process improvement culture in industrial environments is much more developed than in administrative environments.

The previous statement, although it seems negative, is very positive, since it means that there is a lot of room for improvement that allows increasing the productivity and efficiency of teams, people and the administrative processes of marketing, finance, business, HR or other support departments.

LEAN Office in administrative processes:

Talking about Standardization can generate some controversy for administrative teams because their processes are not managed by machines that always work in the same way, but by people with rational capacity and decision making.

However, the concept of standardization implies that although an administrative process is managed by people who decide differently, we manage and obtain results from always the same processes.

For this, it is necessary to extend a culture of improvement that allows to correct the deviations that produce the problems when they arise. Therefore, it is necessary to train, train, implement and create work routines based on improvement tools such as:

Visual Management: system of KPIs and metrics that evaluate the result of the main administrative processes and their qualitative characteristics.
TOP meetings: periodic meetings and standards, for the evaluation and monitoring of the main operative ratios.

Mapping of processes: using any of the existing tools to map a process (Value Stream Map, Makigami, Process Map or SIPOC) will be useful to analyze the operation of the process and define action plans for its improvement.

Problem Resolution Groups: tool used to analyze the root causes of a problem and establish actions that prevent its repeatability; with this, we can stabilize the result of the process.

5S: a standardized work environment, with a defined order and systematic operation, is key to avoid wasting time looking for information or managing obsolete documentation.

TPM: for the optimal maintainability of the equipment used (PC, printers, photocopiers, telephones …) it is necessary to establish maintenance plans that ensure proper operation of them that guarantee adequate functionality for a long time.

Flow System: flow of information, from which one stage of the process does not manage or produce information until the next one does not require it.

The process in an administrative team

Without going any further, an example can be an administrative process of request management to respond to the end user. The lead time of the process is, on average, 15 minutes per request; taking into account the 30-40 requests that the assigned person had to attend, supposed a load close to 75% of the workday of this person.

Surprise of the work group when detecting this inefficiency and greater surprise when they have realized that facilitating self-management to the user using an online and shared database, the load could be reduced to a 15%, thus freeing this resource to dedicate it to other tasks of greater added value for the department.

One of the biggest difficulties within the administrative processes is to make the work teams aware of the need to standardize each and every one of the operations to be carried out. On the other hand, the need to guarantee the good quality of the data introduced to the system as well as facilitate the flow of information, will help the drastic reduction of Lead Time, FTE (Person Dedicated Hours) and rework of the process.

Resistance to change:

To tell the truth, and reflecting on the whole week of work, there is another thing I have learned: the resistance to change and the ease of putting “self-accusations” against clear inefficiencies, happens both in industrial environments and in administrative environments.

Continuous improvement is a team effort:

The Lean Office, will guarantee to establish the correct working dynamics to reach the expected results of quality, costs and service (QCD).