Tag Archives: lean service

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.

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.

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

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. )

Waste – is the UK Government getting it?

The new UK Government has announced plans to attack the “Waste of Rework” in the NHS, provider of the public UK hospital system.  BBC News – Hospital Face Fines

The Waste of Rework is the waste of resources (time, people, materials, equipment etc) when a process isn’t completed to the required standard. Consequently more of the resources have to be spent putting the work right – which also has a knock on effect on the subsequent work planned.

It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about metal forming, handling insurance forms, answering customer calls, or attending to patients, doing a job right first time, will use up less resources, than having to re-visit the job.  So this waste, from a Lean point of view, is pretty universal.

The change proposed is that if a customer (okay they do still call them patients, they haven’t admitted these people are customers who have paid for the service, through taxes!) is re-admitted within 30 days of being discharged then the hospital will not be paid for the second stay, if it is related.

Hence I’ve viewed this as the hospitals will no longer be paid for the Waste of Rework, so the incentive is to get treatment right first time!

Within many of the reports on this new ideal came the complaint that this change will lead to longer times in hospital and increase the length of waiting lists. The people making these claims have never seen any lean thinking or queuing demonstrations on the effect re-work has on the capacity of a system. Re-work lowers the capacity of any system and often by more than the measured rework figure.

So a 10.5% rework rate will reduce capacity by more than 10.5% because of the effects it has on planning, we use a calculation known as OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) to demonstrate this, don’t be put off by the manufacturing bias to the name of this, you can use it for any process.

Now I don’t have all the figures to understand this but the % of re-admissions as proportion of all discharges, in the NHS, went up from 8.8% in 1998/9 to 10.5% in 2007/8.  There is no indication whether this 

  • is a statistically significant rise,
  • is a consistent rise from 1998/9, or just 2007/8 was a high year
  • is a function of re-admissions within the new 30 day limit,
  • is due to a focus on treatment at home, which might carry more risks
  • or just a function of an ageing population.

Whether it will actually work or drive the correct behaviours we don’t know because is the problem of rework being caused by people being sent home to early, or by something else….

Now if the Government used the 5Whys to determine this waste, then we’d have a better idea…..

Regards,

Mark

P.S.   Do you know what the rework level is in your organisation?

BOGOF – it’s just not lean marketing

According to this story in The Times Tesco the UK grocery retailer is to drop Buy One Get One Free offers on food. Following Asda, who dropped these offers a while back and Sainsburys who have also announced they will reduce the number of offers.

Food waste in the UK costs the average household £420 and the average Britain throws away 3* their body weight each year in food.

So what does this have to do with Lean Marketing?

well the insights are in the pdf booklet on the 7 Hidden Wastes of Marketing, to find it, go to this page on Lean Marketing.   You’ll need to register on the site to get access to the papers, that’s just so we can see how popular it is, if you have any problems then please e-mail us and we’ll send you a copy of the paper. (info@resqmr.co.uk)

As a taster though (no pun intended) as to why BOGOF isn’t lean.

When you run BOGOF, you anticipate extra demand, sometimes 16* as much as your normal volume.

So how do you cope with this? you convert more of your cash to raw materials, to build the extra demand, next you might run production lines for longer or bring in casual staff, incurring overtime or additional labour costs, then you might build up a buffer of inventory stock for the start of the promotion, incurring extra storage costs becasue you can’t be sure where demand will go up first and by how much.

and for the pleasure of all this you have received half the normal revenue per unit sold, you didn’t assume that the supermarkets pay, did you?

All in all your costs have gone up and revenue per unit down, never mind you can console yourself that the consumer got Value (they paid less) only if the figures above for waste are to be believed did the consumer derive value or just guilt from throwing good products away?

and what happens when the promotion ends? yep you’ve guessed it your demand drops normally well below your normal volume, so now you have staff with nothing to do – except you have accountants who want the machines run, the people kept busy and the overheads absorbed, so you make to stock………..

and to clear the stock your sales and marketing team might decide to run a BOGOF with another outlet………..

and then your brand looks as though it is permanently discounted and the marketing team may decide they need to spend money on campaigns to address this in the marketplace and to re-establish the brand…….

How many brands do you recognise as always being on promotion somewhere??

Thanks for reading

Mark    http://www.resqmr.co.uk

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What are the traits of a Lean Manager?

We’ve moved What are the traits of a Lean Manager to our new Lean Management website.

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.