Whenever we see overtime over 5% an analytical red flag goes up and we start to suspect that there may be too much cost built into the process. Many organizations use overtime to offset peak volume periods.
A consultant spent three hours watching a production line trying to find opportunity. It was a simple quality inspection area where the product flowed in a continuous stream past a number of trained inspectors.
In many operations, back up assignments can be a useful means to even out daily workflow. By providing a “ready backlog” of work that can be pulled if the main task is delayed for whatever reason, a manager can help optimize the productivity of an area.
A lot of productivity is lost due to how work is assigned, or in this case, when it’s not assigned. What we often see is that the manager plays the role of a work collator, someone who creates a backlog of tasks that an employee can draw from. Work is “loaded” as opposed to “assigned.”
We spend a lot of time during our diagnostic phase doing “day-in-the-life” studies. The purpose of these studies is not to watch an individual, it’s to watch the process flow and transfer points at what we call “the point of execution.”
Cyril Parkinson wrote a humorous essay for The Economist magazine, in part drawing from his experience working in the British Civil Service. He observed that work tends to fill the time available for its completion.
There are a number of functions in an organization where it’s tough to move the productivity meter. You might actually produce more but the base costs don’t change so the true productivity measured from a financial perspective doesn’t change.