In the course of work, we develop routines that come to define our business processes. Over time, we accept these routines as tried-and-tested and therefore stop interrogating their effectiveness. Yet, these seemingly small bottlenecks within each of the dozens or hundreds of business processes in the organization could be causing a needless deterioration in overall company productivity.

Bottlenecks are sometimes temporary problems but in most cases, they are deeply established in work routines in a way that makes it difficult to root out. Many organizations make the costly mistake of assuming that simply throwing technology at their processes automatically gets rid of their efficiency issues. In fact, technology can exacerbate bottlenecks. Here is a look at the most common business process bottlenecks and how you can get rid of them.

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Excessive Paperwork

Paperwork in both the literal and figurative sense can be a bottleneck. In the literal sense, papers are much harder to handle than electronic records. They not only occupy more space but they are also more fragile. Papers have a higher propensity for getting lost or irreparably damaged.

Paperwork, as refers to process and procedure, can create bureaucracy. If your clients have to jump through hoops to access your services, it may be a sign that you have too much red tape.

Paperwork is both a short and long term bottleneck. Short term because it impairs service delivery in the present. Long term because it makes it harder to go through these physical and electronic records if they’re needed in the future.

To eliminate paperwork, first examine the processes that drive the paperwork to see which ones are unnecessary. Next, convert physical forms into electronic ones. This will speed up workflows.

Frequent Hiring

As your business grows or as you embark on a new project, hiring new workers feels like the sensible thing to do. In addition, some of your staff will leave for other employers who offer them better terms of work. Whereas hiring new workers may be inevitable in certain circumstances, you should strive to minimize it. New workers inadvertently create bottlenecks.

Your current staff are already familiar with your processes and procedures. New employees need time to understand not just their role but also how their work interfaces with the rest of the organization. There’s a learning curve and it will be months before they can truly fit into their role.

You can get rid of this bottleneck by giving your current staff attractive incentives to stay. And when you have a new project, consider assigning tasks to the existing staff and offering them additional compensation in tandem with their expanded responsibilities.

Poor Task Description

Every business process should be well-thought-out. Other than the high-level description of the process, it must be broken down into its component tasks. The absence of detailed task-level descriptions can create long-term bottlenecks.

There’ll be no consistency in how employees execute the process. In addition, the absence of task disaggregation makes it harder to identify actions that can be performed in parallel and, therefore, save on overall execution times. Thorough process description makes it easier to apply Kanban principles such as wip limits.

Whereas these may be the most common causes of process bottlenecks, keep an open mind. Take time to evaluate your own organization to identify and remove bottlenecks that may be unique to your work environment.

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