Time study in service

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    I am an Industrial Engineer and used to implement Lean in manufacturing, Recently moved to service industry and trying to reduce waste in some processes. But here and there I hear that the traditional time study (stopwatch) is not a good idea in service, it will not work and will offend employees. 
    Is it true? and If that is, what other options do I have for detailed cycle time calculation? (rather than MTM or MOST)



    Sam,You are wise to be aware of this. Any time someone descends on a
    process operator with a stopwatch and clipboard, antennae go up.
    I’m curious: How were you able to (presumably) avoid that issue in
    a manufacturing environment?It may be true that in certain types of businesses (e.g., healthcare,
    where patient-care concerns trump all else) such sensitivity can be
    greater. But certainly it is to be expected anywhere.The main thing is preparation and communication about your
    objectives. If you set expectations right, it should be less of an
    issue. But keep in mind that Lean is a 4-letter word — to some
    people, under some circumstances.If you explain that you are gathering data to help balance
    workloads, or standardize processes, or make people’s work lives
    less hectic, it will help a lot. But if the motive really is to find ways
    to reduce the work force (far too often the real objective of a Lean
    initiative), you can expect sugar in your gas tank.Leadership needs to be honest about why Lean is being adopted,
    what the real objectives are, how success will be measured, how
    the resultant added capacity will be used, etc. And they need to
    follow through accordingly. Otherwise, it will backfire this time,
    and any honest attempt next time will meet much resistance.DLW – BPEX



    Dear DLW,
    Time/motion study has been done in manufacturing for so many years, so every operator in manufacturing knows about it and experienced the good and the bad of it !!!. This made it much easier for me when I was explaining to operators about the new study.
    However, every spoiled employee in service thinks that he/she is the best and there is no waste even if he/she spend 1/2 hour on the phone talking about Brad Pitt’s new movie or searching on eBay …
    Ironically, when I proposed this project, first thing the manager said was “sweet, we can reduce our workforce” !!!  I had a difficult time to tell him that Lean is not about firing people, but not sure if he got it anyway/
    Thanks for your reply.




    Sam,Just another thought… Are you convinced that cycle time is the
    best place to focus? My experience in manufacturing front-office
    environments, healthcare, and others says that much (most,
    probably) of the waste occurs between processes: delays, lack of
    Complete and Accurate information, batching, slow customer
    response, etc. Interruptions are a particularly nasty culprit, too,
    since they exaggerate the effective cycle time.And not to excuse the behavior, but maybe someone is searching
    eBay because he/she is waiting on something. Cycle time may not
    result from the behavior; maybe both result from waste somewhere
    DLW – BPEX



    It would make it easier to suggest the best approach if you are more precise in which area of Service or which process you are looking to measure.  In Service Delivery, DLW is correct waste mostly occurs between processes including all of those things mentioned below and more.  If however you are looking at Call Centres then I would say that time and motion is an option.


    Eric L.

    Good morning Sam,
    DLW is right…..Maybe the cycletime is not the real issue. It is what you perceived as an outputs not fitting the services SLA certainly. I would suggest rather to clarify with your sponsor the intend of the project (ie. free up ressources to add more add value to your current process – might be a side project run at the same time…), communicate with the workforce on the the review of the process with their help.
    The first action I would take would be define the SLA, the current performance and assess by how far it is outside the business requirement. Communicate to Staff the result of your study and the willingness to improve that performance to ‘stay in business’.
    The second action would be to map the current process. What do they do step by step, per type of transactions, per type of customer, per type of deals. Do that through several brainstorming session.  When you have the final version, share it with the staff. You might have several map – no problem.
    Thrid step, identify the Non Add value / Rework with their help. What is not adding value to the customer. I beleive you might be able to get a lot from that without timing the staff.
    Now that you have sgemented your process in several ‘sub-process’ you might have an opportunity to measure to identify the fastest one and use it as standard and benchmark the other processes you segmenting against it. I might also help you to identify ways to speed up these under performing sub-processes and will have a positive impact on your overall performance.
    If you communicate the above and each deliverable, that will really help you to get the staff buy in. The perspective to give should be ‘we want to remove waste from the current process, free up resosurces to run addtional tasks which will add value to our customers’….

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