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Do your staff produce during all of their working hours?

A client of mine, many years ago, was very frustrated that their project plans were never stuck to. They were baffled as to why their perfectly good (and well thought out) plans always failed.

Due to this frustration I was asked to have a look at their plans. Although I wasn’t an expert in their line of work I was able to ask a few questions that were relevant. We worked through the sequence and the work contents which all seemed fine. I then asked about the resourcing and finally struck something that was awry with the plan.

The planner had assumed that a person employed for 40 hours a week would be able to produce 40 hours of ‘production’.

When I questioned this logic I was given a look of surprise. They employed the staff for a full working week, so they expected a full week’s worth of output.

It sounds logical until you start to peel back what is contained in a normal working week:
  • Team meetings.
  • Holiday and sickness.
  • Training.
  • Inefficiency and ineffectiveness.
  • True production.
  • Relaxation breaks.
Many businesses measure these factors and produce a ‘utilisation’ factor that helps them to plan out a more realistic model of how their business works.

It is our jobs, as managers, to understand the realistic model of production (or service delivery, or whatever works best for your industry) and apply it to our business’ plans and capacity models. Failure to capture this information usually dooms projects to overruns, delays, penalties, overtimes, large agency bills and a raft of other knock on issues.

The client that I referred to at the start grasped what I was saying and quickly created a sufficiently accurate model that allowed them to adjust their plans. Their on time delivery performance increased, as did their profits due to fewer additional costs being incurred later on in their projects. The model also allowed their staff to focus on the right improvements for their business to improve their production activities even further.

So, if you find yourself frustrated that your projects, production or services schedules are always slipping it might be worth taking a step back and reviewing the model you use to allocate resource to your activities.

It doesn’t take long to create a credible model and can make a rapid difference to the performance of your business.

Enjoy,

Giles


About the author
Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes.
Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

P.S. If you are looking for a tool to help you gauge your own personal ‘utilisation’ then check out my ‘Finding Time for your Projects’ download here.

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