Faster Cycle Times - Streamlining Basics
‘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?
And if you’re in doubt as to what is really important - ask your customers!
- 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.
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?
Where do you begin?
- 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.
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?
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.
- 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!
So what can you do first?
Get closer to the customer!
- 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
- 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
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
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.
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!
Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The
CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High
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