Bottlenecks are like those little sand time capsules; you can’t do anything about anything till the sand on the top chamber pours out completely into the bottom chamber –except of course you break the time capsule altogether. We’re always going to have bottlenecks in our business processes. The only thing we can do about them is to identify those processes that qualify as bottlenecks and reduce to the minimum the amount of time spent on them.
For those who don’t know what a bottleneck is, in regards to business processes; a bottleneck is the longest business process in your production line –that business process that seems to delay the whole production line. I gave a good example of this in our previous post –read here. Your business capacity / productivity is dependent on the amount of time spent on your bottleneck processes.
Identifying your bottleneck is the first step to improving your business productivity. There’s always that one process that takes longer than it should; it could be in the back-end –no direct contact with the customer, for example, how long it takes to get the kitchen ready before opening time; or it could be in the front-line –in direct contact with the customer, like, how long to warm the meal before serving and after taking the order.
As I already mentioned, there’s always going to be bottlenecks because there’s always one process that takes longer than the others.
Just to make it clear; you need to understand that when talking about bottlenecks, it is not always talking about the entire business process, for example, a restaurant is in the business of selling food and everything done before that ultimately leads to selling food –the entire business process of that restaurant is the process of ‘selling food’. Whereas, when talking about bottlenecks, most of the time, are more effective when thought of as dealing with the sub-processes that lead to the whole or sum of these sub-processes. For example, preparing the food, displaying the food, serving the food, packaging the food, etc; all these sub-processes lead ultimately to the process of ‘selling food’. Bottlenecks are more effectively dealt with at the sub / lower process levels than at the highest process level. In this post, we will be referring to sub-processes when dealing with bottleneck processes, except of course mentioned otherwise.
Having said that, these are a two things to consider when identifying your bottleneck.
1. Is this process a critical process or not?
A critical process is a process that the production line cannot do without, hence the word ‘critical’. These processes cannot be tampered with because their outcomes affect the other processes either for good or bad. For example, in preparing the food for your customers, to boil rice (Nigerian rice) usually takes about 30 minutes and if you identify this as a bottleneck and go ahead to make a decision that it must be done quicker and you boil the rice for 15 minutes –this will make your whole business bottled up sooner than later. In this case, you cannot perform this process any quicker –rice has to be boiled till you can eat and enjoy it. This rules out this process as a bottleneck. It is not advised to identify your critical processes as a bottleneck.
2. Can the workstation size of this process be increased?
I also explained what a workstation size is in our previous post. A workstation size, in business process terms, is the amount of people working on a process at a time. You also need to know if the “identified” bottleneck can have an increase in its workstation size. For example, if you identify that cleaning and cutting vegetables takes at least 20 – 30 minutes to be done, you then need to consider if you can increase the workstation size of this process and if you can, then you’ve identified a potential bottleneck but if you can’t then you move onto the next bottleneck.
Consider these two factors when identifying your bottleneck for effective results in business productivity. Don’t go wasting your time / resources with bottlenecks you can do nothing about.
As already mentioned, your business productivity is dependent on identifying and working on your bottlenecks.
Why produce 5 in an hour when you can produce 8?
Identify your bottlenecks, work on them by reducing the time used in them and increase your business capacity / productivity. Ya’ats Advisory Services can help you do this –contact us.
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