Tag Archives: efficiency

How much waste is there in the Service Industry?

Over the weekend a question was posed to me via Twitter (@theleanmanager if you’d like to follow) about the amount of waste (wasted time) in the back office of banks/service/insurance operations. Now I took this to mean the call centres, data processing centres, mail rooms, customer response teams etc.

The guys asking the questions @wisemonkeyash and @channingwalton  wanted to know could it be as high as 90%? (Update: we do know that in some legal firms the time to process matters is being improved by 50%, by using lean thinking, indicating that wasted time could considerable in the professional services sector.)

I decided I should expand upon my 140 character replies, which were based on my experience.

Variation of demand is the first factor to consider i.e. what does the busiest day (for demand, not completed work) look like and what does a quiet day look like and what are the patterns the peaks and troughs for the demand.

What causes this demand, the peaks and troughs? Our experience? it’s normally another part of the business which generates and stokes the demand and therefore changes here can reduce the peaks.

This could be letters with incorrect details, mass direct marketing mailing, customers chasing progress etc

This variation often causes capacity (people) to be 50% more than required to achieve the current results.

The implications here are that you can deliver improvement by changing something outside of the back offices, without changing what many individuals do – making continuous improvement more readily accepted.

Remember that so far we haven’t looked at the waste in the activities undertaken in these departments. Now as a lean person we look for the 7 hidden wastes, yes I know others have 8 or even 9 but we stick to the 7.

To give you just one example, have you rung a call centre, in the last 6 months,  to be told ” I’m sorry the system is a bit slow today”?

Sometimes that is genuine, the system is slow, it may be that the networking is slow or the server needs upgrading or the PC workstation is old. So say you have 50 agents handling 20 calls an hour? how much time are you wasting because the technology isn’t up to speed?

The more common reason for ” I’m sorry the system is a bit slow today”, that we see is that staff have two screens in front of them and they maybe running 4 different programmes at once. As the programmes can’t transfer information directly to one another, the staff take info from one system, send to their own e-mail, cut and paste it into another programme and then have to delete the e-mail.

This is just one example and adding up the rest we often find that 50% of the activity time is wasted.

What does this mean  overall?

If we start with 100% and 50% is waste due to Variation demand, this leaves 50%.

Of the remaining 50%, we reckon 50% is wasted time, so we get to the figure of 25% (50% *50%), or 75% of the work can be classified as waste.

Remember this is based on what we have seen, so not as high as the 90% the guys originally asked.

Within an hour I spotted this article all Aviva shakes up it’s Customer Service  from the FT, which shows the global serving UK based insurance firm Aviva put the waste figure in call centres as 60%.

It’s also worth noting that Aviva thought it was completing work in 5 days, in reality it was taking 39.

How can this happen? well sometime companies split activities into discrete chunks and add up the time each chunk takes, assuming this equals the processing time. They forget the handoffs and delays that each happen between each activity. We’ve definitely seen office work with activities of an hour take over 10 days to complete in reality.

Okay there is a variation in the figures but should we split hairs on whether waste in offices is 50% as in the professional services firms or 60% – 75% for the back offices and call centres, the reality is that the waste appears to be relatively large, though maybe not as large as the 90% that started the question.

Do you have any views on what the waste could be?

About the Author;

Mark Greenhouse has been working on the application of Lean management in Legal and design led Manufacturing companies for the past 5 years. His own Lean journey started back in 1988 when he started study of Production Engineering. He’s applied lean in many organisation types, finance, call centres, banking, FMCG etc. Mark also provides lectures on operational management at Leeds University Business School.

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Lean Office & Management Training

The training referred to below is currently being revised and upgraded. Please visit our new website www.Levantar.co.uk or go directly to Lean Office Management Services page on the website.

 

Despite the inflationary pressures and ups and downs of the wider UK economy, UK manufacturing has continued to grow both in terms of outputs and productivity. Indeed in recent observations the most resilient manufacturing firms will be those exporting. This in a sector often more linked with exporting jobs not products!

Can service organisations and office departments learn from the manufacturing firms and departments? learn the continuous improvement techniques that have made these firms more efficient, more productive and more resilient?

learn how to

  • increase the capacity of their departments,
  • get through work faster,
  • reduce errors and
  • positively impact cash flow!

Can service organisations learn how to get more out of their current resources? How can non-manufacturing departments support the shop floor improvement initiatives?

Lean thinking techniques which have been prevalent in UK manufacturing for many years have been translated and applied in offices, distribution and retail environments by many companies including Tesco, Zara, HMRC, Starbucks etc so these continuous improvement techniques can be applied outside of manufacturing to departments such as marketing, sales, accounting, hr and they deliver results in the form of Lean Office and Lean Management.

It gets better in the UK if you’re in Yorkshire or Humberside, not only can you learn the techniques but you can get 50% towards the investment in training. There are no restrictions on sectors, business size or turnover, you must be privately funded though. (Public sector organisations and those outside the Yorkshire & Humber region can complete the course and get the qualifications but the funding is NOT available to them)

The training runs to a total of 24 hours of training (3 days or 6 half days) + a work based project and leads to a qualification for the attendees and the course is overseen by Leeds University Business School and MAS Yorkshire & Humberside.

The article Lean Office, Lean Management Training – Yorkshire and Humberside details the specific offer and how to get the training course (3 days, 6 half days etc) for an investment of just £750 per attendee.

Courses can be tailored to the specific needs of a company if it wishes to put a number of staff through a course.

The Lean Office course is one of  9 continuous improvement courses that follow a similar framework, 3 days of training, work based project and qualification via Leeds University Business School and Manufacturing Advisory Service through their Manufacturing Masters programme and they can all be funded.

Getting the Order out

In the last year UK Manufacturing grew productivity by 5.7% (source EEF),this means that many manufacturing companies will be

  1. better at getting products and orders out on time – that end of day or Friday afternoon last minute chasing of jobs is reduced,
  2. increasing the margins and profitability of their business,
  3. improving the quality of what they send out,
  4. starting to sleep better at night knowing that they can pay bills when they come due. 

So just a couple of thoughts?

  • Have your team (managers and staff) delivered similar improvements? more products and orders out on time, increased profits, better quality,  and confidence that the business current account can pay the bills!
  • Are you getting better returns, every year, from the same levels of investment in people, machinery, raw materials?

If not, how could that be? remember 5.7% is an average, so some companies will have gained much more than this and the cash that goes along with it*

If you haven’t had such gains,

  • Do you and your teams have the time to look for productivity improvements or does the day to day get in the way?
  • Do you think your teams know where to look for productivity improvements?
  • Are they too close to the work to give you an objective assessment of what could be improved?
  • Would you like to get to the answers (& the cash, the improved performance it brings) quickly?

If you’re a manufacturing business owner or a manager who’d like to find out whether you could be getting better returns for your investment and improve your productivity there is a FREE scheme that can help you find out.

A FREE scheme? well it’s the Manufacturing Advisory Service which is one of the few business schemes which has survived the Government cuts.

What do you get for FREE then? you get to meet with an experienced manufacturing professional, normally at your own premises, so no travel involved, who will

  • listen to what you want to achieve, what you need to achieve to keep customers onside
  • understand the challenges you face (cash flow, quality, skills, etc)
  • appreciate how the experience, expertise and skills you already have can be built upon

from that they will be able to decide whether they can help and IF they can they will provide the names of accredited companies, with the relevant skills in Lean Manufacturing, ISO 9001, ERP, Product Design etc who can help you to improve your productivity.

Nearly forgot to mention the £6,000 FREE investment for productivity work. If you decide to invest in productivity projects, with an accredited supplier, then you could get up to £6,000 towards the costs.

Lots of paperwork? hoops to jump through? not normally, your advisors can help you with the small amount of paperwork to be filled in.

Do you qualify? Do you employ less than 250 employees? have a turnover less than 50M euros? see most companies will qualify.

ResQ currently complete work for MAS in Lean Manufacturing across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Humberside, Yorkshire ( East, West, North and South ).

If you’re in these areas and you’d like to know more about MAS then give us a call (01904 277 007 or 0115 711 7007) and we can see if we can help.

Outside of the areas above then go to the MAS website and give them a call.

Two companies that achieved much more than 5.7% are detailed below.

Case Study 1 – Lean Manufacturing FMCG, Warehousing & Distribution Company gains 14% Productivity increase.

Case Study 2 – Lean Manufacturing Printing Company gains 40% more capacity.

* the two companies in the case studies above gained 14% & 40% improvement by using Lean Manufacturing and Thinking techniques, we completed the work for them via the MAS scheme. 

This time next year you could be confident that customer orders are being

  • delivered on time,
  • delivering increasing profits,
  • safe in the knowledge that your business can pay its own way!

Oh and you may find you’ll be making 5%,10%,15% even 40% more this time next year!

Lean Management & Continuous Improvement – Is your Law Firm ahead of this Organisation?

** You can get a FREE copy of our latest 2013 Lean Management for Law Firms  handbook by clicking on download** The original article continues below

Click here to download FREE Lean Legal pdf guide

The Association of Corporate Counsel has noted that the company in the article below is “five years ahead of every other AmLaw 200 firm” because of its Lean & Continuous Improvement programmme. The programme based on management principles already proven in many other sectors and departments to deliver;

  • lower costs, (increases margin)
  • faster responses, (improves cashflow)
  • better quality,
  • and improved customer satisfaction.

Get the article here; Continuous Improvement in Law Firms – LeanThinking in Legal Services (the article was first published in September 2010 in the Law Business Review).

Alternatively visit our new website at levantar.co.uk.

If they are five years ahead of US firms, what about the UK, do we have any organisations looking at this, who could claim to be five years into a lean thinking implementation within the legal sector?

We are presenting to the Yorkshire Law Society, on this subject in April this year.

Do you think that Lean Management programs will work in the UK legal sector be it, law firms or general counsel?

About the Author;

Mark Greenhouse has been working on the application of Lean management in Legal and design led Manufacturing companies for the past 5 years. His own Lean journey started back in 1988 when he started study of Production Engineering. He’s applied lean in many organisation types, finance, call centres, banking, FMCG etc. Mark also provides lectures on operational management at Leeds University Business School.

Free Lean Management Training Course

From time to time, we offer free training via other organisations.  One such organisation we work with is Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

On the 25th March 2011, in Leeds, we’re offering a free 2 hour insight into Lean Management techniques. This is about how Lean can be applied across all departments in any organisation, so it isn’t limited to just manufacturing or profit facing bsuinesses.

So

  • if you work in IT, Finance, NHS, Public Sector, Service, Marketing or Manufacturing companies or
  • if your career means you are responsible for continuous improvement, process improvement, or training or
  • if you are faced with getting more out with the same or fewer resources

then this course will give you something to take away to use in improvement.

You can find all the details here LEAN MANAGEMENT TRAINING  COURSE

This session will show you how you can improve your business efficiency, by using tools and techniques developed in manufacturing and now proven within organisations, ranging from Tesco, Toyota, Zara, GE, NHS, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Seyfarth Shaw (Law firm) through to Starbucks.

Lean manufacturing businesses found that more than 70% of their improvement projects lay not on the shop floor but in the offices and service based departments and so it has spread to these sectors. It will help to improve your business speed, capacity, cost control and quality whatever your sector or department.

If you’ve got any questions on this training then drop us a line.

Thanks

ResQ

50% More – are you getting it too?

In the last year UK Manufacturing grew productivity by 5.7% (source EEF), in the years since 1997 productivity growth has been 50%!! The two companies below achieved much more than that though.

Case Study 1 – Lean Manufacturing FMCG, Warehousing & Distribution Company gains 14% Productivity increase.

Case Study 2 – Lean Manufacturing Printing Company gains 40% more capacity.

What does this mean for manufacturing? simply (and on average) a manufacturing employee was completing 5.7% more work at the end of 2010 than they were at the end of 2009 + every employee involved in manufacturing in 2010 is capable of making 50% more products than in 1997.

So just a couple of thoughts?

  • Have your team (managers and staff) delivered similar improvements? a 5.7% improvement in productivity in the last 12 months or 50% since 1997?
  • Are you getting better returns, every year, from the same levels of investment in people, machinery, raw materials?

If not, how could that be? remember 5.7% is an average, so some companies will have gained much more than this*

If you haven’t had such gains,

  • Do your teams have the time to look for productivity improvements?
  • Do you think your teams know where to look for productivity improvements?

* the two companies in the case studies above gained 14% & 40% improvement by using Lean Manufacturing and Thinking techniques, we completed the work for them via the MAS scheme. 

If you’re a manufacturing business owner or a manager who’d like to find out whether you could be getting better returns for your investment and improve your productivity there is a FREE scheme that can help you find out.

A FREE scheme? well it’s the Manufacturing Advisory Service and in case you’re thinking “didn’t the Government pull all the funding for RDA’s, Business Link etc?” well for this particular scheme it’s full steam ahead. Just before Christmas the Coalition announced plans to extend the scheme and provide further funding.

What do you get for FREE then? you get to meet with an experienced manufacturing professional, normally at your own premises, so no travel involved, who will assess your needs and provide the names of accredited companies who can help you with improving your productivity.

Nearly forgot to mention the £3,000 FREE investment for productivity work. If you decide to invest in productivity projects, with an accredited supplier, then you could get up to £3,000 towards the costs.

Lots of paperwork? hoops to jump through? not normally, your advisors can help you with the small amount of paperwork to be filled in.

Do you qualify? Do you employ less than 250 employees? have a turnover less than 50M euros? see most companies will qualify.

ResQ currently complete work for MAS in Lean Thinking across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Humberside, Yorkshire (East, West, North and South).

If you’re in these areas, give us a call (01904 277 007 or 0115 711 7007) and we can see if we can help.

Outside of these then go to the MAS website and give them a call.

Who knows you could be making 5%,10%,15% even 40% more this time next year!

Saving £m’s, charging £???

or You Are The Ref ! – The Legal version

It’s Thursday 23rd September and you are called by a client to provide a way out of a sticky situation. The client, a large northern based football team (soccer franchise, anyone?), has only a few weeks to repay its loans before they are called in by their bank.

Currently, the football club is up for sale for a figure reported to be at least £420m and prospective buyers may be in the wings. However if they wait till the banks call the loans in, they could potentially buy the football club for less than the price of its outstanding loans, which are reportedly £280m, a saving it would appear of at least £140m for the buyer.

The dilemma is that if the club debt is called in and the banks technically own the football club, the club could be deemed to be in administration and the rules of the sport appear to determine that the club would be deducted 9 points.

If the points are deducted the football club could find it difficult to retain the services of some of it’s key assets, the players, and could even be staring at relegation and a drop in its revenue, which at the moment can at least service the loans.

Other clubs which have stepped down in the league structure have found the revenue drop coupled with large fixed overheads and player salaries ruinous.  

Should the loans be called in on the 15th October, you have been asked to provide a legal defence, to prevent the application of the sports “administration” rules and prevent the deduction of the 9 points.

1) How do you charge (billing structure) for your advice? (bearing in mind you could find the answer in an hour, three hours or three weeks!)

2) How much do you charge? ( if your advice prevents the 9 point deduction it could head off the spectre of relegation and could protect revenue worth several £10’s of millions of pounds)

Any ideas, then drop a comment in the box below, we’d love to hear how you’d value the legal advice.

Never happen, you say?http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2010/09/why_rbs_looks_set_to_own_liver.html it might do!

(Ask about Lean Principle #1 if you’re wondering what a legal pricing question is doing on a lean blog. )