Have you ever experienced that point where your all, just isn’t enough? How about in your business or place of employment? Are you always behind the 8-ball? Customers are contacting you wondering when their order is going to be completed. Overtime doesn,t seem to put a dent in the load. Turn times have reached the point where customers are looking at your competition. Can we be honest? You are capacity constrained!
Unfortunately, it seems like there is no hope. Unless you spend tons of money on expensive capital investments and hire additional manpower resources, you are going to be treading water the rest of your career! I’m here to remind us that there may be an easier and less expensive means to address our capacity constrained organizations!
My life has always been about service. It was my privilege to serve our nation, in the military. Currently, I am serving the people of my area, as a pastor. I also lead in a company that is a service provider, to the aerospace industry.
I have been privileged to be exposed to “opportunities” to learn and grow. Okay, I have made a some mistakes and learned a few things in the process. I have found that these learnings from the military, the ministry and the main-stream work place can be applied anywhere. If you try them, I know that they will work for you.
In my current company, we pride ourselves on being able to care for our customer’s needs. However, when project turn times go from weeks to months, monthly revenue rates become stagnant, and customers start taking a look at our competitor’s availability. It is time for us to make some changes.
Shortly after being hired on, we realized that there were some capacity constraints. We took a look at our process to determine what we could do alleviate the bandwidth issues in our service. After some thought and investigation, we took three basic steps to improving our capacity issues.
Believe it or not, these steps may be basic and simple, but they work.
There is a simple but incredible principle. People can’t fix what they don’t know is broke. It may be that your capacity is constrained because your employees don’t know that there is a problem. Maybe they are not aware of the deadlines. It could be that they are working hard, but not realizing that there is a time standard for the activity that they are engaged in.
These all promote problems with capacity. They create bottlenecks in making progress towards project completion. The capacity issues could be corrected if the employee was informed of the problem, deadline, or time standard. We have found that knowledge at the lowest-levels is an enabler to organizational effectiveness.
In the case of our capacity constraint, we created awareness through several activities.
1. DAILY RECAP MEETING – We introduced a daily recap meeting with the leadership in the departments. This meeting covered what was accomplished that day, what changed in the schedule, what activities were to be completed on the next day. This meeting rarely lasts more then 15 minutes and occurs at the end of the day.
This meeting allows department leadership to discuss issues, remove road-blocks, and plan morning starts so that the day is effective for employees from the moment that they arrive at work.
2. DAILY WALK THROUGH – We instituted a daily walk through of the departments. During the walk through each employee is greeted and checked on. Conversation surrounds what they are currently working on, where they are experiencing issues, and what is next on their schedule. If their project was delayed, a query is made as to why and what could be done to get back on track.
Please note that the emphasis is not assigning blame for delays, but to solve root issues for a more productive path forward.
3. SCHEDULE AVAILABILITY – We are making the service schedule available for everyone to see. This allows each employee to see where their project is in regards to due date, delivery time frames, and future work load.
These activities increase the level of awareness concerning the current project queues. The activities also give employees the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their own work processes. Now they can coordinate activities among themselves, in order to get certain project steps done simultaneously and in the most efficient method. This minimizes waiting and enables them to better support their internal customers.
This is just the first step in increasing our efficiency. Doing so will allow us to achieve our end result of better service through shorter turn times to our customers. Knowledge truly is power! In this case, it is the power to change!
Brian has over 12 years of aerospace and military experience. He brings years of experience in Quality, Project Management, Process Improvement and leadership to the J&L team. Brian is a former US Air Force officer and graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. Brian also serves as the senior pastor for LifePoint Baptist Church in Portage, IN.