In the spotlight: Power of Process & Lean Value Stream Mapping

When mapping your laboratory processes - where should you start?


Whether you're a Black Belt or new to laboratory performance improvement, Power of Process (PoP) qualifications - including the Pioneer, the Champion and the Master - can be of great benefit to your ability to grasp the complexity in laboratory processes and accurately determine the right course of action for continuous improvement. Power of Process offers a standardised way to observe, document and challenge process flows. It also teaches how to design and successfully implement radically improved process flows. By completing these courses, Lean practitioners will find value in learning how to identify new improvement opportunities that they might previously have considered to be counter-intuitive.

Lean practitioners will find value in creating a detailed, quantified evidence base from which to address performance issues.

Power of Process courses allow laboratory professionals to know the “truth” about our processes as we gather information from those who are actively responsible for each of the tasks within the process. True performance can be established by mapping the whole laboratory's processes and activities from the bottom up. In contrast to this, Lean’s Value Stream Mapping (VSM) relies on representatives of the laboratory process such as managers, business analysts, supervisors, to relay their understanding of the process. This is usually in a workshop environment to compile a high level hypothesis of how the laboratory's processes work. While VSM provides a logical methodology to map out a production flow from beginning to its customer, it does not provide the level of detail and accuracy that is needed when decisions need to be made based on facts or figures.

Power of Process courses allow laboratory professionals to know the ‘truth’ about their processes

Power of Process teaches that, in order to fundamentally and radically improve our processes, we need to have a detailed and accurate process map of the current state against which the current performance can be measured and fully understood. This then also serves as baseline against which the future state can be measured and evaluated. The methodology offered by the Power of Process Champion course in particular offers an opportunity to learn from the process, essentially creating a common performance language in your laboratory. This learning forms an important part of the change management process. Power of Process also looks at the application of The 8 Principles of Laboratory Performance, allowing laboratory professionals to structure a laboratory for certainty, put certainty into practice and ultimately sustain performance improvement in the long run.

A global characteristic of laboratories today is that they face a myriad organizational challenges including market needs, capacity constraints and innovation. Lean's VSM falls short in addressing these challenges. Lean is focused on the removal of waste identified through the VSM.  Designed as a continuous improvement methodology, Lean allows modest short term improvement contributions in key performance indicators such as turnaround time (TAT), often with diminishing returns in each iterative cycle of “Plan, Do, Check, Act”. By focusing on waste it is unlikely that a laboratory will improve the current process flow (i.e. “unlearn” the bad habits of the current process) and identify new process flows.

Interested in finding out more about the Power of Process? Visit the course outline, or contact us to help you get your laboratory processes up to speed.