How to Weather a Downturn

An economic downturn  is one of the toughest periods for an organisation. This could be caused by a variety of external factors like what we are currently seeing in Kenya: political uncertainty, retail outlets going under or even just a lack of spending by consumers.  All-in-all revenue has reduced, profits are low and the uncertainty is high. However, on the bright side, it provides a good opportunity to streamline the business reduce costs and more importantly prepare for the upturn.

In any business there is waste and it comes down to how effective our time, materials and resources are being utilised. Are we able to generate more with the resources we have? The answer is probably yes. Truth be told, we waste a lot of our time every day either in non-value adding tasks or just being unproductive. The expensive machines you purchased earlier this year, are they running at 100%? Answer is probably not.

In order to attack this waste, an organisation must harness the power of process mapping. Process mapping not only allows us to understand the inter-relationship between the different departments but to further deep dive into specific tasks and eliminate waste. This is also important to drive out problems that not only keep costs low but also keep your customers happy. 

I would like to share a problem I am currently facing with one of my suppliers.

I am supplied a product every month by this supplier. The organisation is a global entity having setup its offices locally in Kenya. Recently, they went through some changes and centralised their finance team to cover multiple locations. At about the same time, they changed some terms in the contract now including a penalty for late payment. In the last few months, all my invoices have been wrong, they include figures, late charges and sometimes even zero values for the products. Unfortunately, due to a lack of accountability and process ownership, the regional office is unable to reply to my complaints. And therefore, for every invoice, I as their customer, has to spend 30 mins discussing and persuading. As of next month, I have signed up with a different supplier.

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Here are some typical problems we see in processes:

  1. Bottlenecks that increase the lead time to the customer,
  2. Duplication within the process,
  3. Unnecessary steps in the process that don’t need to be done.
  4. Mistakes and defects in the process,
  5. Incorrect resourcing of the tasks,
  6. Or worst case, just not having a process in place.

In order to deal with this, we offer process improvement consulting. By using tools and techniques from Lean Six Sigma, we map the processes that run your business. We set KPIs to measure the process and find where the problem exists. We go further to analyse and determine the root cause. Together with your organisation, we create the ideal ‘To be’ of the processes. Then by asking some simple questions like: can any steps be deleted, automated, combined or even run in parallel? We can streamline the processes. Lastly we work together with you to implement and migrate to the new ways of working. Thereafter periodically checking in to make sure changes are implemented. 

In the coming weeks, we will be offering a two part workshop to firms in East Africa.

  1. For Seniors Management (CEO, CFO, VP, MD, GM level) which focuses on benefits of process mapping, managing process improvement projects and requirements for such a project and touching on change management.
  2. For Middle Management (Managers, Supervisors and Team Leads) which focuses on setting process mapping standards, process mapping, problem analysis and tools to sustain new processes.

If you are interested in any of the above options, please reach out to us via email at