Process Mapping: Problems with Hand-offs
One of the things I've noticed over the years is that hand-offs are a potential for problems. Obviously, on the football field, a botched hand-off might mean a turnover and a momentum killer.
In our business, hand-offs often cost us time and money. Think about. If you're working with people doing a process map and the thing is loaded with hand-off after hand-off, chances are you are looking at a slow process with a lot of re-work and waiting. As a matter of fact, I like to think of every handoff costing us hours or days. Just think about how a process stops when a handoff is made on Friday afternoon, and the ball sits in an in-box until Monday morning.
Process mapping is a great exercise-especially if all of the people involved in the process participate. Usually we will learn that people are doing the same task that someone upstream in the process has already done!!! We need to proceed with caution here because it is important that everyone understands that the mapping process is not the time to defend anything, nor is it the time to make improvements.
But, once the map is done and everyone agrees that "yes, that is our process", then we can turn our attention to what needs to be addressed. This is where I love to focus on the number of handoffs. Often, the ball gets handed off to someone else simply because the person with the ball hasn't been trained to do the task. Well, that's an easy fix-we can train the person to do that step of the process and eliminate the handoff (often hours or days saved!!). Very often, when confronted to "take on" this task, people say "absolutely, just show me how!!"
For those of you who do what I do, this kind of thinking can turn a process with an average lead time of days into a process with an average lead time of hours or minutes!! Simply by focusing on the waste of waiting caused by hand-offs!!