September 9, 2022

Reducing lead time through cross functional transformation - a case study

How a company reduced their lead time from 38 to 21 days.

Lead time improvements at a Swedish train maintenance company

Henrik and Jacob work for a train maintenance company. They were struggling with lead time problems for the supply of an article critical to the recurring service of a commuter train. This specific "r-article" needed refurbishment from a regional supplier, but the availability in the train service depot was often insufficient.

Developing a common picture 

To better understand the problem of why this specific issue occurred, they gathered a team with representatives from all functions involved in the flow of this article. What they learned and how they shared their knowledge about their unique problems gave them a common understanding of why they were facing an issue in the depot. More specifically, they know knew the individual tasks of each function in the flow, and they could see how their performance and routines hindered the improvement of the flow. They became aware of how deep they had sub-optimized their functional work. 

This shared understanding gave them the energy to move together to improve the entire flow. 

The step-by-step method

The relay race of an end-to-end flow can sometimes be overwhelming to understand and affect fully. But what we've seen and continuously encounter with our clients is the successful implementation of a method to step-by-step move from a functional to a cross-functional way of working. 

It all starts with understanding the fundamental customer need and then working methodically to improve your flow. 

  1. Analyze the current state with the help of a flow-efficiency analysis
  1. Establish a structure of governance including the four capabilities to manage the flow (performance, flow, resources, and improvements)
  1. Start closing the gap to your target state and iterate as fast as needed with the entire team consistently involved.
The power of seeing and understanding together

Jacob and Henrik visualized all individual steps, which became the heart of their improvement effort. This way, the common understanding became a common way of seeing the progress of the flow and the results of their improvement efforts. 

They quickly saw how their internal improvement efforts erased days in the flow of this specific article which also gave them an understanding of the actual bottleneck. Now, as they also involve the supplier in the improvement effort, they can see an impressive improvement:

They've now moved from an average of 38 days to an average of 21 days, closing in on their target of <14 days!

/ Joacim Harrby, 

Business Area Manager Operational Excellence at Hups