By Greg Gardner, GOMB Director of Operational Excellence
Ken Miller, author of the book “Extreme Government Makeover,” recently trained the GOMB staff on a few simple yet profound techniques for developing faster and simpler processes. The training supports GOMB’s theory and proven practice that significant opportunities always exist to reduce processing time.
Elapsed time is referred to as the time it takes to complete a process from beginning to end and work time is referred to as the time it takes to complete the actual work of a process. Elapsed time for most processes includes 90 to 99.95 percent of wasted time caused by handoffs, batches, approvals, bottlenecks, backlogs, inspections and so on. The objective for developing faster and simpler processes is to get elapsed time as close to work time as possible.
The basic steps for developing faster and easier processes are to:
- Map the process
- Estimate the elapsed time or the amount of time the process takes from beginning to end
- Identify the actual work activities of the process, determine how much time each activity takes, and add the time together to produce the total work time
- Determine the difference between elapsed time and work time—the difference represents the size of the improvement opportunity
To meet the objective of getting elapsed time as close as possible to work time, consider the following points:
- What can be done in the first few steps to make the process faster and easier?
- What activities can be eliminated?
- Which activities have the greatest discrepancy between work time and elapsed time?
- Where do errors and rework occur? How can they be avoided?
- Where do customers have the most problems working through the system?
- Are there steps that can be done in parallel?
- Identify where batches occur and look for the impact on elapsed time. Can the batch be eliminated or size reduced?
- Look for backlog, determine if it is historic or growing and strategize ways to get out of it as soon as possible, and never get behind again.
- Find the bottlenecks in the process and look for ways to either increase capacity or reroute work.
- Where do inspections take place, what information do they need and why do they need it? Are there ways to get that information that do not add time to the process?
After considering these points, it is important to develop a project plan outlining the action that will be taken to reduce elapsed time.