In last week’s podcast I suggested any effort to reduce lead time start with the obvious (not to all, sadly). Define it. And I encourage you to define it from the viewpoint of your customer.
Then measure it. Then break it down into component steps and look at elapsed time for each of those. Your metrics must reflect the truth, not excluding the miracle you pulled off or those orders that took forever but it wasn’t your fault.
Your customer expects you to be reliable, and faster over time.
Now it is time to define where you’re headed. “Reduce Lead Time” has no real meaning by itself.
Do you want to eliminate those outliers? Do you want to shift the entire performance curve to the left? Do you want to control the range so variability in performance is limited?
Now that you know what lead time means for you, and you have honestly measured performance over a period, and broken the total elapsed time into component steps, and you have stated your goal, you’re ready to move forward.
Start with simplifying.
The vast majority of lead time is wasted time, not time invested in actually adding value. In most manufacturers the value-add time is close to 5% and the wasted time close to 95%.
Is it easy to read a work order, or do employees need to find someone to ask a clarifying question? Is it easy to know what to work on next? Does an employee have to ask sales a clarifying question? If so, that means that early in the process we are not providing all the information needed.
By this process of identifying where variability of lead-time is high, it is easy to spot where simplification and completeness would help.
Don’t accept “that’s not my job” from anyone in the process that should be accountable for providing complete information in an easily understandable means.
You’ll be amazed by the reduction in wasted time by simply resolving these frustrating issues. Frustrating to your employees, and to your customers.