Today, we cover the first O in Tim Woods, Overproduction.
Have you ever
- sat in a meeting with too many people in it?
- done work that you knew did not matter?
- sent or received extra emails?
- had to process a huge amount of one type of work when you knew others were more important to get done?
You have experienced overproduction waste. Overproduction is doing extra work that your customer, whether internal or external, does not need or cannot use right away.
Sometimes this is an easy one to figure out. There is a huge amount of inventory, either virtual or physical, waiting to be processed somewhere. And it causes people to either be waiting or feeling like they cannot keep up with their work. Often at the same time at different steps in a process. And instead of having a smooth workflow with consistent process times, there is a huge variance, so that you are unable to tell your customer when their product or service will be complete with any confidence.
Sometimes this is more difficult. You may be producing things that you think meet customer requirements, but really do not. And this can be for internal or external customers. There may be features in a product or information in a report that you think are great, but that your customer does not value. For instance, if you are providing daily numbers in a report, but the reader only cares about the monthly totals, you are overproducing and potentially causing motion waste.
Overproduction, especially in the second case, needs to be fixed by looking at the entire process by the owners of the different steps in the process along with the customer, ideally.
Look for things like:
- Are you delivering everything the customer wants, but no more?
- Can you remove steps from the process?
- Does everyone understand every step in the process? If you cannot describe it using common words, it is hard for others to understand the requirements.
- Are people or automated processes working at optimal times to do their work in time for when it is needed at the next step?
- If there really busy and then slow times, are you staffing appropriately?
Overproduction can be something that sneaks up on your, especially as customer requirements change. The best way to identify this is to educate your staff and encourage them to identify areas where work requirements are changing so that your processes can keep changing with those requirements.
Again, for a handy chart of these process wastes, visit the Minnesota Office of Continuous Improvement’s website. The chart can be found here.