Visual process adherence (VPA) is a way to quickly see if the people doing the work are following standard work, which is defined as the documented, current one best way to perform a process. When done correctly, VPA should indicate if a given process flows
as expected by quickly and easily revealing when it’s not.
VPA assumes that standard work exists for a given process because without a standard, what are you adhering to? If the process is designed properly and standard work is followed, then positive and accurate outcomes should result. If not, the process needs to be improved.
When using VPA, process owners and teams check to see if each key step in the process (sometimes referred to as a “pulse point”) is being followed by considering relevant metrics associated with the step. Such metrics may include things like inventory, lead time, quality, touch time and pacing to the customer’s demand. Whenever possible, teams should post a process map, or “flow board,” on the wall along with the documented standard work.
Flow boards visually represent the processes we use to deliver our products and services, or “widgets,” and ways these processes are interrupted. The flow board maps the process steps and shows where each widget currently is along the process “flow.”
Depending on the type of work involved, teams can sometimes visually follow the flow of their actual product (e.g., a report or application,) but in administrative and knowledge work, it is often difficult to see actual flow because our widgets are stuck in a file cabinet or stacked on someone’s desk. Instead we can simulate the product by using a proxy, such as an index card or Post-It notes. The idea is to be able to see the flow of the work in the timeframe the process is designed to achieve.
Making things visual increases accountability and simplifies maintenance of the standard work. From the customer’s perspective, it’s better when we can deliver our product or service faster and more efficiently. From an agency’s perspective, removing waste andobstacles from our processes means we can deliver more vital mission outcomes – the return on investment – for the people of Arizona.