Help ... my department has become too complex

Help … mijn afdeling is te complex geworden
Operational Excellence
Lean Office
Lean Supply Chain

Complexity. A necessary evil for some, a reason for existence for others. An example of the latter group is Amazon, where an extremely complex product portfolio very quickly finds its way to the end customer.

How is it that such organisations know how to embrace & control the increasing complexity in customer demand?

Process knowledge. The processing time from receiving the order through shipment to invoicing at Zalando,, etc. is very short. There are undoubtedly many activities that are handled in the background. A team that has little or no knowledge about the various steps in this process cannot possibly "see" what the unnecessary and time-consuming actions are. And yet it is precisely these sources that prevent an organisation from being able to respond flexibly to new products/services/trends.

How can we “see” our process?

A tool that can be deployed very quickly in order to let a team form a common understanding about a process is Makigami (Japanese expression for "roll paper").

A Makigami consists of four main components:

  1. the steps in the process and the departments or parties that play a role in this
  2. flow of information: the way in which communication takes place within the process
  3. the problems, clumsiness, waste in the process
  4. the time analysis:
  • turnaround time, the total time from the start to the finish of the step
  • processing time, the time that is actually worked
  • added value time, the time during which real value is added during the processing


Does the setting up of a Makigami stop at my own department?

No. A process always has a start point and an end point. If we take a typical order-to-cash process, for example, the process starts via a request on the website in the sales department, but will gradually progress through several departments. Another example could be the input and processing of customer complaint files in the pharmaceutical sector, where lead time is extremely critical if you want to reduce the impact. The visualisation of an end-to-end process immediately reveals the handover points. Critical points where things go wrong nowadays. As a process visualisation technique, both in Lean Office and Lean ManufacturingMakigami helps team members from different departments to see the entire process, which also contributes to system thinking. This system thinking is important, as we have to view an organisation as a combination of different processes.

Where does Stanwick apply the Makigami technique?

Chemicals: accelerating the handling of complaints

Electronics: shortening the order-to-cash lead time, simplifying the global supply chain planning

Construction: speeding up the planning process


"Visualising the administrative flow helps me to see where we urgently need to improve."

"Only now do I realise why it can sometimes take a long time before an order is delivered.”

      "We have been able to eliminate the unnecessary steps that we have been doing for years in the future state Makigami.”

Printer Friendly, PDF & Email