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Where do you focus your OTIF improvement activities?

When it comes to delivering on time, how much of your focus is on the early business process steps?

I find that many businesses might fixate on on time delivery to their customers (rightly so, of course) but don't look at what is going on at the stages before the final step.

Here are some ideas to whet your appetite when it comes to improving OTIF (On Time In Full) for your organisation.

Recognising and discussing the domino effect

Each step in your process feeds the next step. A failure to deliver on time at one of the upstream activities can snowball and really push out your deliveries.

Being aware of this phenomenon and having an ongoing discussion about this in your business is a good first step. If your team aren't willing to discuss this issue then it is unlikely to get resolved.

Make internal OTIF part of your normal conversation and change will be much easier later on.

Develop KPIs that support on time delivery

Most of us have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) within our businesses.

Do yours help you to drive the right kinds of process improvement within your business, or is it something that is reported on but never discussed / acted upon?

Having a good balance of process driven KPIs and output metrics can help you to get a better grasp of the situation. If you feel that you would benefit from this take a step back and make sure that all of your 'at cause' process actions are being measured.

Focus on processes starting on time

One of the biggest shifts many businesses can make, when it comes to improving OTIF scores, is to measure and focus on ensuring processes start on time. Starting late rarely leads to finishing on time, although many businesses try to get away with playing catch up.

This very narrow focus for continuous improvement can throw up all kinds of interesting discussions and revelations about the weaknesses present in your business. A sub-standard delivery performance is often a symptom of hidden failures upstream in the fulfilment process.

Focusing on starting processes on time, not just finishing on time, can lead to significant delivery gains for many businesses.

Ensure your feedback loops are feeding back

To ensure that you are making the right decisions in your day-to-day business you need to ensure that your feedback mechanisms are firing on all cylinders. A lot of people that I speak to (when we first meet) ignore these feedback loops and wonder why their decision making is so poor.

Once these same people realise that they are hindering their own management ability, and decent feedback loops are put in place, learning can take place. Learning leads to innovation and change. Change and innovation lead to results (good ones if we do it right!).

Make sure that your feedback loops are working properly and embrace continuous improvement in its most efficient and (possibly) brutal form.

improve on time delivery performance

Consider SLAs

I like the phrase 'rules of the game'. You know where you are with a game of Snakes and Ladders. In business it is less likely that we have defined 'what good looks like' and agreed on a set of rules.

Without clear expectations and requirements it is sometimes hard to be consistent with the achievement of internal standards and goals. However, it doesn't take much effort to agree on the 'handshakes' between functions and process owners.

If you have problems between functions in your business, some kind of Service Level Agreement (SLA) could really help you out.

Review how you manage your work queues

Finally, how do you regulate and adjust your work queues?

Effectively managing how work flows through and between process steps is essential to ensuring that the right things happen at the right time. If OTIF levels are poor then attention naturally shifts to the final step in the process. Attention needs to be focused on the front of the process, and throughout the process, in order to hit the levels of delivery performance that you want to achieve.

If this is an issue for you then I urge you to have a look at how you manage all of your work queues in your business.

Drive your internal OTIF performance

To achieve a good final OTIF delivery performance you need to make sure that you have all of your internal resources and processes aligned and managed.

There are quite a few points in this post, which I hope that you can use in your own business.

If you want some more ideas on improving on time delivery performance then don't forget to sign up for my regular email updates by using the sign up form below.

All the best,


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.

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