Every business wants to get the most productivity with the least amount of time and cost. The more steps there are in a process, the more chances that there are built-in inefficiencies. These can be physical issues. For example, a product might have to make several trips across a factory floor before it is completed. Inefficiencies might be personnel issues. One employee might be trying to do the work of two, or multiple employees might be repeating steps unnecessarily. Here are several ways to catch and remove inefficiencies in the workplace.
Do a Gemba Walk
Gemba is a Japanese word that means “the real place.” The Gemba walk involves managers walking the path of production with a critical eye. The easiest illustration of this technique is an assembly line scenario. The manager follows the production process from start to finish, noting inefficiencies along the way. This process may be repeated quarterly to account for the unexpected consequences of changes and to take into account new personnel.
Switch Roles for a Day
After you do a job for some time, you may become blind to the inefficiencies in your position. You assume that the way you carry out your task is the only way it could be done. In many workplaces, it is possible for people in the production process to switch roles. This allows staff to look at a position in the process with new eyes. What one employee has come to accept as normal flow might be noticed as inefficient by another.
Some employees may be well-aware of inefficiencies in their roles, but they may not feel comfortable sharing it with management. They assume that the managers want to maintain the status quo. An efficiency interview process can allow employees to discuss the frustrations and weaknesses around their positions. Having carried out the task, they probably have some excellent solutions for improving the process. It may be that you will need to bring in an outside interviewer to get the best participation.
Use Custom Software
Custom tracking software can help a business observe the reliability and efficiency of a process. Software that uses artificial intelligence can learn how long it would take to carry out an ideal production process. Then it can follow products through each step, note how long it takes, determine if the product successfully made it through the step, and figure out often steps need to be redone. It can also help you see how a small inefficiency in one step can cause a larger effect down the line.
By analyzing their processes in multiple ways, businesses can greatly improve efficiency in the workplace. It will take time, care and intentionality to make it happen. The growth in productivity will more than compensate for the effort.