How to Fix Bottlenecks in Your Workflow

Increased customer sales are always a good thing; that is, right up until you have made more promises than you can actually deliver on. At that point, the stream of sales might resemble something more like a flood that threatens to overwhelm you.

This build-up in pressure probably has something to do with a bottleneck in your workflow. By removing any constraints to your production, you can increase your productivity, ultimately improving your cash flow.

The First Step: Create a Production Plan

The only way to recognize a workflow issue exists in the first place is to have an initial expectation for how much a product or service you provide costs you to produce, and how much time is involved in its production. When you create a production plan, you list out the steps involved to create your product or provide a service.

At each step in your service or production, you can estimate the costs in resources needed to progress to the next step. These resources can include the cost of materials used or the amount of worker hours needed.

This step-by-step guide will be used to find any bottlenecks in your workflow, which is an area where less is produced than expected, and where a slowdown occurs that prevents future work from starting on schedule.

The Second Step: Locating the Bottleneck

The next step in correcting a bottleneck requires visibility into what is actually occurring in your business. The cost of each step of production must be compared to the production plan’s expectations in order to recognize any issues.

Workload visibility comes in many forms. Sometimes it is built into your equipment, with networked systems that provide automatic supervisory reports.

Sometimes, visibility requires traditional communication with your people working on the ground floor. Their feedback can quickly alert you to any unexpected issues they face, which might be holding up production. Once you have actual production data, you can compare this to your expectations.

If, for example, more worker salary has been paid than expected, this difference might actually point toward a bottleneck. If at one stage your team members are idle while waiting for a previous stage to be completed, those idle hours will add into their productive hours for a higher total cost of work, thus revealing the bottleneck.

We could also consider another example where dealing with higher material costs than expected might actually be explained by spoilage and waste; as some materials sit unused, they can deteriorate beyond usefulness and require replacements.

The Third Step: Apply Remedies

Now that an issue has been found, it is time to implement a remedy. If it looks like workforce hours are the issue, consider re-adjusting your expected time requirements. By adding additional time to the schedule, you will push back the start of the next stage, and ensure that the next stage doesn’t begin as downtime waiting for a previous stage’s completion.

Another workforce solution is to hire more people to work at the stage causing bottlenecks. The cost of hiring someone new may be much less than the cost of not meeting customer deliveries. This logic also applies to buying better equipment at that stage; the potential for increased sales and deliverables might outweigh the initial purchase price.

Finally: Update Your Production Plan

The final step to eliminating bottleneck issues is actually a return to the first step: update those production plans!

As a business grows, expectations are always increasing, and you cannot always do more with what you already have. As the production plan better represents the reality of your business, you will begin to see where improvements to your plan will require additional employees or equipment.

Every business faces unique challenges to increasing sales and delivering on promises to their consumers. The best advice you can receive will come from someone you can partner with who has years of experience facing similar challenges to yours. By reaching out to ActionCoach RGV, you are contacting a network of professionals who can tailor their wisdom to the needs of your business.

Identifying and Relieving Bottlenecks to Grow Your Business Should be a Priority. Take Action Now for a Complimentary Business Plan.