The Efficient Organization
The Hidden Cost of Rework
of the biggest problems in business processes is rework. Anything that
has to be re-done, re-built, re-packaged, re-anything is a waste. If the
service or product is not done right the first time, the individual
(and the organization) experiences rework, resulting in more time,
materials, and cost to the final service or product. If you work by the
hour, reworking your deliverable may look like you're getting paid a lot
to produce very little. And you'd be correct.
importance of producing quality products or services the first time is
important not only to the organization, but to the employee as well.
Think about the last time you had to rework something. How did you feel?
Chances are that you felt (and were) distracted and frustrated that you
had to stop work on one task to handle something that you thought you
simple act of stopping one task to do rework another one takes not only
the actual stop and start time, but distractions themselves create time
loss greater than the rework itself. In fact, it is estimated that 40
percent of the time, those that stop a task to do something else (like
rework), do not return to the original task.
face it. We're not perfect. At some point, we all reworked something.
This is normal. However, if you spend more than 15 percent of your time
on rework, either the way you work or the overall process itself is in
need of repair. Some examples that contribute to rework include lack of
clarity about the work, lack of process controls, poor quality of
incoming materials, poor work instructions, inadequate training,
projects that do not include true business outcomes, or other causes.
in the majority of cases rework decreases the value of the process,
there are instances where a type of rework is desirable. For example,
revisiting and reviewing previous completed work is both desirable and
necessary for inspiration and creativity. What worked well in previous
projects? What could have been improved? If you don't review previous
work, it is hard to answer those questions and prevent the same
mistakes. One might argue that reviewing completed work is not rework at
all since it adds value to new work.
Here are five ways to decrease the amount of time you spend on rework:
an effective records and information management system. One of the
biggest problems in offices is that they can't find what they're looking
for or they're basing decisions on non-current information. If your
information resources aren't current, there is a high probability that
your decisions will need rework.
your paper and electronic records. Don't duplicate the same information
across multiple media. This creates confusion about what copy is the
official version and can be a source of rework.
that work procedures are current. Relying on procedures written five
years ago is not good business. Procedures manuals are dynamic documents
and need to be reviewed at least annually to ensure that they are
accurate and as efficient as possible.
those that do the work when writing procedures. They will provide you
with the best insight and expertise about how the work can be done
accurately and efficiently.
the latest technology where it makes sense to do so. If you expect
efficiency and productivity from your employees, give them the tools to
help them zip through their tasks. Buying the latest technology for them
will improve their productivity. But don't buy high-priced tech gadgets
if all they need to do is check their email. Less costly solutions may
be better suited in these instances.
attention to how much time your organization is spending on rework.
Reducing rework will enable work to get done faster at a reduced cost.
In effect, you will experience a triple benefit - reduced rework,
reduced duration, and a reduced cost. Astute organizations would welcome
these types of reductions.
Pursuit of Profit
70 and 90 percent of workplace errors are attributed to "human error"
(also known as "operator error"). On the surface, one would presume that
this means that the person doing the work makes a mistake on their own,
without the influence of other factors. However, we know this is not
entirely true. Human error can occur due to a person's inability to
perform a required operation, but it can also occur when procedures or
visual cues are incorrect.
an organization experiences high incidences of product or service
defects, equipment malfunctions, environmental hazards, and other
similar defects, the most likely source of the defect is in the
standards, procedures, instructions, workplace layout, workplace
culture, staff morale, or other broader contributors. It is rarely the
sole result of the individual's performance. But when it is the
result of the individual's performance, other factors may also play a
If your organization experiences a large rate of defects that may be from human error, consider the following.
the person to the task. Not all people are created equal and not all
people can do the same tasks. Each of us is very capable of doing
at least one task very well. Find the innate ability in your staff and
watch them and your organization glow.
more difficult, dangerous, unpleasant or repetitive a task, the more
likely human error will occur. For these types of tasks, consider
assigning more than one person. This way, more breaks can be taken so
that the individual is able to provide full focus to the task with less
chance of errors.
that procedures are current and that staff is trained. If not, staff
will make best guesses about how to complete tasks and this increases
can increase human error. One needs to be at their best (i.e., sleep is
a major contributor to a person's wellbeing) to perform their best. If
staff is being pushed to work long hours to meet deadlines, the quality
of work may suffer due to human error.
injury, stress, and other personal factors may contribute to human
error. In addition to ensuring one is well rested, staff the are
experiencing illness, injury or stress need to take responsibility for
their wellbeing so that they can be high functioning in all aspects of
their life. Human error abounds when one is not at their best.
the end of the day, it is human nature to want to blame a person for a
failure. It is somehow easier rather than for the organization to admit
deficiencies in its procedures, products, services, processes, or
systems. And in some instances, it may even seem less costly to outright
fire a worker for his/her errors than look at the bigger issues. But a
study by Shanders and Shaw (1988) revealed that in no case is human
error the only factor.
reduce human error and improve your organization's quality of work,
consider implementing a Lean Six Sigma approach. By doing so, you will
experience better speed, better flow of work, reduced defects, and
reduced process variation. This means better quality faster with a
reduction in cost and complexity of products and services.
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)
a person a gadget with instructions and there's a good chance they'll
ignore the instructions and experiment with the gadget first. If it's a
toy, no problem, but if it's work, it could be a serious problem.
Consider airplanes. The airline industry and military have done a great
deal of studies on human factors in aircraft accidents and near misses
and have carefully manipulated aircraft operation to ensure
our safety. With today's technology, an airplane is capable of taking
off, flying across a continent, and landing without any input from
pilots. But the airplane still needs pilots. If you're someone who likes
to experiment with work processes and systems before reading
instructions, I bet you wouldn't want your aircraft's pilot doing the
same thing with the aircraft while you're a passenger. Work instructions
exist for good reason. IMHO.
"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
About MNC Consulting Group
Our goal is to help you to dramatically increase efficiencies that immediately boost your profit margins.
Profits is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing how leaders can
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