Business Center

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.

1
Process Analysis
Analyze core processes that are critical to the customer; highlight opportunities
2
Customer Feedback
Determine customers critical to quality demands; gather customer feedback to determine causes of dissatisfaction
3
Strategic or Operational Plan
Determine which strategic or operational imperatives could be furthered by applying Lean principles
4
Performance Metrics
Analyze trends and determine shortfalls on key measures of quality, speed, time, and cost
5
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.