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MNC Consulting Group Newsletter
January 2013
The Efficient Organization

 

WaitingWaiting Away Your Time

  

When was the last time you had to wait for something or someone? Do you remember how long you waited? If you waited for more than five minutes, you probably felt frustrated. If you waited for more than ten minutes, you may even have started getting angry about the wait. And what about those instances when you waited for hours for a service technician to show up?

 

While many of us have waited for products or services at least once in our lives, you may be surprised to know that there is a huge cost in waiting. A Cost of Waiting study in 2011 revealed that waiting cost Americans $38 billion. This is the equivalent of two full workdays for every US employee.

 

Now you might say that one can "fill in" the waiting time with other work, but if you are given a scheduled time for a product or service, there's a good chance that you aren't going to show up on time expecting to wait for more than a couple of minutes (and even that is excessive-zero wait time is the only acceptable amount). When the waiting drags on, there's little hope of recovering the lost time with any productive work.

 

What causes excessive wait times (those longer than ten minutes)? The answer is: inefficient or ineffective systems and processes. Customers waiting in line at a bank are not waiting because the teller is slow; they are waiting because the process is inefficient. Files or documents waiting in a cue for a signature are not waiting because the signing authority isn't willing to sign; the waiting time is due to the inadequacies in the process or system. Is your IT system down? It's likely not due to staff; it's the process. You get the idea.

 

On average, 30 to 50 steps of any given process are wasteful. This waste results in any number of inefficiencies, not the least of which is waiting time. Fixing processes will result in fewer waits as well as overall improved efficiency and effectiveness.

 

Next time you wait for an overdue report, the cable guy, attendees for a meeting, or your physician, consider this: I submit that those keeping you waiting are also disrespecting your time. Everyone may sometimes be late for an appointment or with a deliverable, but if your scheduled person or deliverable is running late, it is courteous to those waiting to let them know how long the wait will be and also, apologize for the wait. When time is wasted, regardless of cause, mutual respect for everyone's time goes a long way to keeping everyone happy. 

Pursuit of Profit
 Workload      
Idling for Action

 

When at work, the worst possible outcome is a slow day. It's downright agony to try and fill in time with what-appears-to-be-work. Waiting for work is a waste of time and money.

 

Waiting is also one of the eight deadly sins of Lean; the others are: underutilized talent, inventory problems, transport of products or information, unnecessary motion of individuals, over-processing (extra-processing), over-production, defects and re-work.

 

If you or your organization experience frequent waiting for products or services, you need to eliminate waiting. Here are four considerations for eliminating waits and improving workflow in your office:

 

  1. Balance workloads. If your staff is waiting on work, there's a good chance that another worker upstream is overworked. Conduct studies to determine if some work can be transferred. The overworked employee will be happier. The underworked employee will also be happier. And the company becomes more efficient with its workflow. It's a three-way win.
  2. Implement kanban. If staff are waiting on backordered materials or products to complete their work, a simple kanban system can help prevent issues with backorders. A kanban system provides visual cues for replenishment of materials or products before a crisis point is reached. Something as simple as a reminder in a computer program or placing a coloured sheet of paper within inventory items to alert when reordering is necessary can be very effective.
  3. Implement preventive maintenance. To prevent waiting time due to machine downtime, a preventive maintenance program will ensure that machines are functioning at their peak. Something as simple as regular cleaning of printers or photocopiers can avoid long downtimes.
  4. Conduct end-of-shift tasks during slow periods. If you're in a role that requires you to clean up work areas at the end of your shift, why not "spot clean" during slower times of the day? This way, you'll have less to do at the end of the day and you won't waste time waiting during slower times of the day.

 

By eliminating waiting from your organization's processes, you are adding value by improving efficiency. In turn, you are improving your bottom line. If you're in a public sector organization, you are keeping your budget balanced. And where there's money at stake, no one wants to be kept waiting.

 

In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

 

There's nothing wrong with wasting time if it's for the right reason. When I waste time, I do so by playing games such as my recent online favourite, Words with Friends. Admittedly, it can be time consuming if I let it. I also find it to be a bit of a paradox in that it keeps my brain active while at the same time it relaxes me. It provides me with a break from the usual even though the usual awaits my attention. Am I wasting time? Maybe, but I don't feel as if I am. Nor do I feel as if my clients are waiting on me. I always complete my work on time and meet my deadlines. Having my work wait for me while I waste time playing games? I think that's called a creative break. IMHO.

 

"I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them."

E.V. Lucas

About MNC Consulting Group
Our goal is to help you to dramatically increase efficiencies that immediately boost your profit margins.

 

ISSN 1925-8941   

Extreme Profits is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing how leaders can be more efficient and areas where organizations can save more money. 

 

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mary@mncconsultinggroup.com | MNC Consulting Group | 5536A Hamsterly Road | Victoria, B.C., Canada  V8Y 1S5 | 250-658-4873

   

In This Issue
Waiting Away Your Time
Idling for Action
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

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