Case Study: Value Stream Mapping

Refining Processes for A National Gaming Developer and Supplier

Helping AGS Streamline Day-to-Day Initiatives through Value Stream Mapping

When it comes to day-to-day processes in the workplace, it’s normal for employees to resist change. After all, it’s hard to make profound shifts in processes that are so deeply ingrained within a company. This is especially true when a company scales; the bigger the workforce, the harder it is to implement new methods to accomplish tasks.

So when national gaming developer and Supplier AGS came to RevUnit to better its business practices–—from customer quote to product install—we knew it was going to be a challenge. Here was a global company fully invested in connecting casino operators and players on a personal level through state-of-the-art slots, table games, and social casino products. Through the successful delivery of these products, AGS brought an unmatched value proposition to casino partners around the world, and the company wanted to make significant changes to become even better. The problem: Since customer demand was becoming greater than the company output, executives at AGS knew that change in processes was needed, but they were unsure where to start.

Value Stream Mapping in practice.
Value Stream Mapping in practice.

Altering day-to-day processes is no easy task, so Chris Race, Senior Product Owner at RevUnit, proposed using a tool to dissect the workflow of the entire company. It’s called Value Stream Mapping, and it called for 14 representatives from a variety of departments—from finance, to tech, to sales—to bravely assess the needs of the business, and ultimately, change how the business functions. The tool called for these 14 individuals to take a number of days off, and called for their undivided attention throughout the activity. It also required snacks, coffee and hundreds of sticky notes.

A Value Stream is the process a product or service goes through to reach a customer. A Value Stream Map is a physical tool that helps a group visualize their fulfillment process. It also visualizes the flow of products through the entire value creation cycle rather than as independent processes.

“I was warned by three different managers that if certain people in this group were in a room together for more than a day, I’d need to mop up the canvas,” Race said. Together, the group walked through the customer journey—from touch time to lead time; customer quote to product install—and meticulously took note of every event that added value to the workflows. These value points were customer-centric, and the team quantified them via sticky notes. Participants kept the tasks with the most sticky notes for future iterations to the processes. More sticky notes meant more touch points that required attention—which meant they needed changes to improve the processes. The team then came together to measure the current state. They assessed how long it took between each task completion, marking value points and recording data. Throughout the mapping, the central question was: What does the customer actually care about?” In summation, the group recorded 81 processes, 93 system interactions, 9 total systems, and determined that it took 70 days to go from customer quote to product install.

Experience design often starts on paper first.
Experience design often starts on paper first.

After laying out the processes, it was time to propose some changes and talk about the future state. The team came together to examine and discuss ways to cut out unnecessary steps and streamline the workflow. In turn, these changes would save time for both employees and customers. As one can imagine, this got very granular and tedious at times, but it was for the good of the business. The team thought big, kept what was important, and identified focused events. After five days of intense meetings, the team managed to create a model that reduced lead time from 70 days to 55 days. Other accomplishments included building a 12-month roadmap, adding value to mandatory processes, and prototyping future iterations of workflows. As a whole, Value Stream Mapping allowed the team to organize changes into tasks, keep a public record of those changes, and provided a model for employees to talk about roadblocks. In other words, it made a prioritized, crowdsourced, metric-based roadmap.

Value Stream Mapping can be used to benefit processes large and small. Race took the strategy home and used it to refine RevUnit’s hiring process. He essentially followed the same model—gathering employees from Emerging Tech, Growth Marketing, and Talent to come together to figure out how to better the process. The problem: As RevUnit continues to expand, executives were concerned that the company wasn’t spending time at the right moments to maximize impact. The goal was to decrease the amount of time it took for an applicant to go from submitting an application, to receiving an offer from RevUnit. Race lead the team to map out ways to streamline the hiring process—internally and externally— by identifying the customer (in this case the applicant), measuring the process’ current state, and building the future state. Below are the takeaways:

Chart of Value Stream Mapping Results
How Value Stream Mapping made a positive impact on RevUnit’s hiring process. The tool minimized the amount of time between application and offer letter by 12 days.

Value Stream Mapping can be used in enterprises of all sizes and focuses. It allows companies to step back and examine processes that may have become outdated and allows them to refine them to save time and increase productivity. At AGS: It allowed the company to minimize lead time and create a roadmap to expedite those processes even more. At RevUnit: It sped up the hiring process for a company that’s experienced exponential growth.

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