Identifying Opportunities

The Tool and Why It’s Valuable

Identifying and selecting the right project can be as important as how well a given project is executed. There are several effective methods of identifying potential projects. Five of the most popular sources include: conducting value stream analyses (VSAs) to identify waste, responding to customer feedback, furthering a strategic or operational plan, analyzing performance metrics, and responding to employee suggestions.

As Lean maturity increases, a natural evolution will be to identify projects linked to the organization’s strategic or operational plan.

Once a list of potential projects has been created, they must be evaluated and prioritized. (see Prioritizing Opportunities)

How to Apply It

  • Develop a project suggestion list by considering the five sources for improvement opportunities.
  • Prioritize ideas (see Prioritization for more information).
  • Sequence these projects and execute in order.

Note: Smaller improvements can be done using Simple SOLVE while boundary-spanning and larger-scale projects will benefit from the rigor of the Structured SOLVE method.

Pearls and Pitfalls
  • Mix top-down (strategic) with bottom-up (tactical) project selection to maximize impact.
  • Create a portfolio of opportunities that address issues like speed, quality, customer satisfaction, etc. Don’t expect each effort to impact all measures.
  • Not all suggestions will be worthwhile Lean projects. After opportunities are identified they must be prioritized.

5 Sources for Identifying Opportunities

Mining these five sources (and others) ensures a wide-ranging group of project suggestions that will improve both operational efficiency and customer service.

Process Analysis
Analyze core processes that are critical to the customer; highlight opportunities
Customer Feedback
Determine customers critical to quality demands; gather customer feedback to determine causes of dissatisfaction
Strategic or Operational Plan
Determine which strategic or operational imperatives could be furthered by applying Lean principles
Performance Metrics
Analyze trends and determine shortfalls on key measures of quality, speed, time, and cost
Employee Input
Request employee input on how to better serve customers and make operations more efficient

Inputs to a Brainstorm of Potential Project Ideas

Strategic Project Identification—SPI Logic Tree

SPI Logic Tree.JPG

This tool breaks a strategic policy initiative (SPI) into discrete chunks to identify the logical relationship between outcomes, strategies, operations, and processes. Lean projects can be targeted at the significant issues.