Practicing What We Preach: HVTDC’s Lean Exercise


It’s not an occurrence with a starting point and a clear-cut, precise end. It is a practice and a process, with each small step advancing us closer to our ultimate target – whatever that target may be.

Change can be daunting. From time to time, we form habits that we just can’t shake – or simply don’t want to shake. Sometimes, we are unaware of impending change. Other times, we are aware, but we just can’t accept it.

For several years, the Hudson Valley Technology Development Center (HVTDC) has assisted regional manufacturers in implementing Value Stream Mapping (VSM), or what can be reasonably considered synonymous with “change.” VSM is a lean-management method for analyzing the “Current State” and designing a “Future State” for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer. A Value Stream map covers not only the activity itself, but the management and information systems that support the basic process and highlights activities that have little or no value, and contribute both to the cost and time required to complete a process.

It was early this year when HVTDC Executive Director, Tom Phillips, asked that famous one-word question:


“Why” wasn’t HVTDC implementing the same system WE advise other companies to practice? “Why” were we spending hours per week on redundant tasks and expending time on activities and tasks that added no value to the process.

Consequently, HVTDC Senior Project Engineer, Phil van Oss, has provided training and mentoring in the techniques of VSM to HVTDC’s administrative staff since the start of spring. Through weekly work sessions, Phil leads the staff in the identification of inconsistencies and areas of “waste” in the order flow and administrative processes, defining their root causes, analyzing how they adversely impact their processes, and recommending corrective actions.

Specifically, Phil and the administrative team have worked to reduce cycle times by eliminating unnecessary steps in the day-to-day purchase order and invoice processes. After developing data, metrics, and information about the selected process and distribution of information, the team compiled and depicted a graphical diagram of HVTDC’s Current State process. Through this participative and interactive method, problems, root causes, and corrective actions have been identified.

As a result, the staff has already eliminated redundant report logs that are now stored and streamlined in a common database available and useable to all in need of the information. They are developing a Future State value stream map, incorporating recommended corrective actions developed in the analysis of the Current State process. Phil and the administrative staff will be finished with their sessions by the end of June and ready to incorporate the recommended changes in their daily tasks.

“Unlike most, I anxiously awaited starting Value Stream,” said Phyllis Levine, Manager of Marketing and Administration at HVTDC. “I knew there were flaws and redundancy in our processes but I could not pinpoint them because I was too close to it.  We have already implemented time-saving measures to our purchase order and invoicing procedures that are saving us time and a lot of paper!”

As Canadian author and speaker Robin Sharma said, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.”

Sometimes, a fresh set of eyes is required to ignite growth and save time, money, and resources.

All it takes is a little change.

If your company is interested in HVTDC’s Value Stream Mapping services or other productivity improvement services, contact Business Development Director, John MacEnroe at 845-391-8214 ext. 3004, or via email at