Monday, June 29, 2009

Data! Data! Data!

There is no substitute for tracking data to find areas for improvement. Our company is transitioning into a Lean Manufacturing firm which has as one tenant the reduction of waste. One of the seven key wastes in the Lean philosophy is wasted time. Using that as a foundation, I have for the last month tracked all of my work time in fifteen minute increments. After tracking 160 hours I categorized and sorted the data and then began the analysis.

What I found was eye opening. Being in sales, my key goal is to sell which means I need time in front of customers, but my largest chunk of time was internal meetings at 18.49% of my time. This was not a total surprise because I do get involved in many internal projects that take time to work through, but I would have never thought it would be that high.

The next biggest chunk of my time was quoting, starting jobs, sales management, customer meetings and marketing. Those four areas account for 31.43% of my day. The remaining time is spend on low priority items such as driving, paperwork, managing jobs and other activities. Now that I have this data, I can focus on the largest wasters of time and then use that extra free time to get in front of customers.

There is no end to the amount of improvement that is possible with the right focus and the right energy. Take something that needs improvement, track the data and let the data give you ways to improve. Then keep doing that over and over and over.

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