Faster Cycle Times - Streamlining Basics
by Rick Sidorowicz

Faster Cycle Times’ as a management concept is engineering and re-engineering business processes for speed and effectiveness. The work is that of re-design and re-engineering. The focus is on simplification, streamlining and acceleration of service delivery time with an improved quality of output. And the only true measurement of 'effectiveness' is 'service' - as evaluated by the customer.

A few of the basics:

Value added assessment from the customer’s point of view!

The ‘breakthrough’ in ‘value added’ assessment and thinking is that the entire exercise is viewed from the customer’s perspective. Look very carefully and ‘objectively’ at what really adds value to the cost or price of the product or service from the customer’s point of view. 

What are the the high impact areas and opportunities for improvement?

  • Poor quality due to the inadequate design of activities;
  • Poor performance due to the absence of necessary tools and information;
  • Incongruent reward systems;
  • Activities not required by customers that could be eliminated without affecting the output;
  • Minimize time spent on internal maintenance and superfluous controls;
  • Move information technology to the point of sale to enhance customer information and accelerate checkout;
  • Make the production activities visible to maximize customer contact and integrate activities into the experience of service - engage the customer in all of your business.
And if you’re in doubt as to what is really important - ask your customers!

Eliminate bureaucracy!

Acceleration will always mean eliminating bueaucracy and the dysfunctional elements that delay and prevent rapid and flexible responses to the changing needs of customers. 

What are the objectives here? 

  • Shorten the distance to the customer;
  • Accelerate action;
  • Shift thinking from the priority of satisfying internal requirements to the opportunity to respond to customer needs.
Where do you begin? 

Identify the bastions of bureaucracy - distrust and unwillingness to share information; the thrill of checking and finding mistakes; unnecessary checks and balances; multiple approvals on minor actionable items; unnecessary written correspondence, multiple copies and ‘cover your ass’ cc’s and bcc’s; inflexible work schedules, multiple layers and areas of high fixed costs. 

What can you do quickly?

  • Remove blockages and impediments to action;
  • Walk the talk - clean up your own act first and then take it on the road!
  • Simplify and accelerate action!
It’s not rocket science so eliminate the complexity to focus on what really matters! And if it is rocket science do what the scientists do - standardize and simplify activities to ensure that the essentials are executed flawlessly. 

So what can you do first?

  • Eliminate duplicate activities, duplicate data bases and processes;
  • Re-engineer and resolve overlapping or conflicting activities;
  • Identify excessive fragmentation and compartmentalization and integrate into a smoother connected process flow with fewer stages and fewer discrete tasks;
  • Eliminate bottlenecks through changing the order of activities, balancing the workload, and moving from serial activities to parallel ‘tasking’;
  • Combine similar activities and similar departments;
  • Reduce the amount of handling and interruptions;
  • Boil down the essentials into checklists of the vital actions for flawless execution;
  • Insist on clear and crisp communication;

  • Eliminate superfluous data, voluminous reports and multiple copies;

  • Add precision to instructions and specify desired outcomes in clear and simple terms;

  • Identify and eliminate the creation of additional steps and work ‘downstream’;

  • Identify opportunities where ‘one time would serve all’;

  • Identify the disconnects in key processes and bridge the gap through real time information, dialogue, shared objectives and process flow.

Get closer to the customer!

Move decision making and authority to act closer to the customer, with the expressed objective of having decisions made on the front line in real time for improved service and execution. Test and validate the ‘value added’ perspective through a dialogue with customers and track progress and performance against customer related indicators of superior performance.

The key questions?

  • How can we do this faster?
  • How can we do more with less?
  • What if we don’t do it at all?
  • What does superior performance look like to our customers?

Faster cycle times: Assess value added from the customer’s point of view, eliminate bureaucracy, simplify and accelerate action, and get closer to the customer - for superior performance and service!

Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

Many more articles in Performance Improvement in The CEO Refresher Archives


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