A Few Questions About Value-Added Work

Is this typical? How about in your organization?

Spring-boarding from our previous post’s theme of working on the right things, finding ways to increase the amount of “value-added” work that is done each day within our organizations can be a good way of eliminating waste.

Most of us would likely agree that we want our workforce to spend most if not all of their time on “value-added” work, which is often defined as the work our external customer would be willing to pay for, if they knew what we were doing.

But you might be surprised at the amount of “non-value-added” work that is part of the day-to-day reality in most organizations.

For example, think about telephone calls you might have made over the past several months to organizations such as your bank, credit card company, cable company, or some type of customer service group. The odds-are you were first greeted by an automated system of some sort, which asked you to provide information, presumably to expedite the process. This information might include:

  • Your account number
  • Reason for your call (i.e., tech support, billing support, etc.),
  • Personal PIN number
  • Last four digits of your social security number
  • Date of birth, and so on…

Now think back… because in a high-percentage of cases, when finally connected to a person, you are asked most if not all of the same questions!

Do we enjoy this experience?

Most people say, “Heck no!”

From the perspective of being value-added, what value did the auto-attendant have for the caller (customer)?

Most people agree, none!

Possibly the auto-attendant is helpful for call-routing purposes, so it might be provide value for the organization that is being calling, but it really provides  no value for those calling in.

So it’s really no small wonder that  people are surprised to discover that a lot of the work done within their organizations is not value-added.

What is typical?
How much of total work is “non-value-added” in a typical organization, you might be wondering?

In most organizations, over 80% of time and resources are not adding value!

Even in the best-performing organizations, value-added work is well under 50% of the work being done.

A few examples:

  • Inspections to find errors (vs. doing it right the first time…)
  • Rework to fix errors
  • Errors or defects that are never found and make their way into a defective final product
  • Work that sits waiting in front of a bottleneck, or resources that are idled behind a bottleneck
  • Unnecessary work
  • Excess inventory
  • Lost opportunities (perhaps the biggest waste of all) due to work product that does not match customer needs or customer needs that go unmet because they have not been surfaced

We’ll take a closer look at the concept of value-added work over the next few posts, and share some thoughts and best practices for increasing the percentage of total work that is value-added.