## Manage Workflow and the Local Optima Problem

It is a very widely held belief in business that each station in a production line should be working as hard as it can in order to maximise its efficiency. This might be a car assembly line or an accountant’s office processing tax returns using several different stages in the accounting process.  In other words, each stage is working at its Local Optimum.  Generations of Cost Accountants have encouraged this and spend endless amounts of time trying to split, for example, the cost of electricity over each work stage in the production cycle. This is probably seriously flawed thinking.  Blue Belt

## SM5.0 Theory of Constraint (TOC) Find Remove Bottleneck

The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is an important optimising technique that focuses on improving the throughput of work at the (usually) single bottleneck or constraint in the workflow.

This Skills Module draws together a number of the 12Faces articles on the subject.  One research project demonstrated that 89% of improvement in a manufacturing business came from the application of TOC. Yellow Belt.

## C2.5.1 Increase Revenue Increase Throughput

Throughput is the process of moving production through your business. Eventually the production will culminate in cash in your hand from a paid-for sale. Workflow management creates a faster flow (or throughput) of product through your business. What you have learned: That a strong focus on wasted effort and resources in your business will substantially […]

## How to Calculate Time to Produce each Product with Takt Time

Takt is the German word for the baton that an orchestra conductor uses to regulate the tempo of the music. Takt time may be thought of as a measurable beat time, rate time or heartbeat.

Takt time is the average time between the start of production of one unit and the start of production of the next unit, when these production starts are set to match the rate of customer demand.

In Lean, Takt time is the rate at which a finished product needs to be completed in order to meet customer demand.  Blue Belt

## Importance of Small Batches Tool

There are merits to reducing the size of the batches you manufacture and/or hold in stock at any point in time.  This might sound counter-intuitive because of the oft-quoted ‘economies of scale’ and the time cost of pulling down tool set-ups and changing them to manufacture another project.  But, in the words of the song; “it ain’t necessarily so!” Learn the importance of small batches.

## How Kanban Improves Work Flow

Kanbans are a tool for structuring how work flows into the work-in-progress queues so that workers do not get overloaded and can use their time most effectively. Kanbans, and variations on them, are widely used in software projects (e.g. Scrum and Agile) and manufacturing (e.g. Lean and Six Sigma). Blue Belt

## How to Tune Buffer Management

Buffers, used strategically, will enable you to “smooth” out the flow of work through your system.  This is important to maximise production.

## How Kaizen Leads to Continuous Incremental Improvement

Most improvement is an incremental process.  It is rare to get something completely right the first time so, over time, we improve parts of the system so as to continue to improve the whole.  A Japanese phase for such incremental improvement is ‘Kaizen”.  Read this article for insights into incremental improvement of your business.  Yellow Belt

## SM5.4 TOC Drum, Buffer, Rope Optimisation Techniques

The Theory of Constraints (TOC) demonstrates the importance of finding and managing the constraint in your business.

This article covers three of the major techniques to optimise any production system around its constraint.

## Take Advantage of Agile / Scrum / Kanban to Increase Productivity

In a smaller business there is always plenty to do and many demands on a managers most limited resource; time.  Often the owners time is the major bottleneck on the growth of the business (see the introductory article to Theory of Constraints).  Plenty of other businesses have struggled with prioritising time before you and several techniques that are very similar have evolved.  The three best known of these are named Agile / Scrum / Kanban.  Various references cite improvements in team productivity ranging from 25% to 300% by using these methods. This article introduces these concepts and a way of using a free software app named Trello  to manage the process.  A mix of Yellow and Blue Belt introductory material.

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