There is more money lost in businesses today from inefficient processes than any other single area. Yet this is not a place where most managers feel comfortable deconstructing and rebuilding. Somewhere out there is a consultant or future employee (or even suggestions from present employees) that will provide the roadmap toward making your processes run more smoothly, more quickly and more inexpensively. As a byproduct, process quality is likely to improve as well.
No matter what your company produces, there is surely a more efficient way to approach the process. Start by carefully restating the goal for the process, such as “produce 500 quality units per day” and create metrics to measure the present output and quality (rejects or time lost) with this goal. Look inward, forming a “tiger team” from within your organization to define the steps presently taken to reach the goal, and make improvements in increments that can be put into effect and tested quickly. The best reward for those involved in improving a process is to receive the kudos from management and themselves for making dramatic improvements in their internal processes.
[Email readers continue here…] If internal resources cannot handle the solution, it is time to find an outside resource that can. Either way, someone must start with creating a map of steps from start to completion, breaking it down to measurable sized increments. Look first at whether some steps are creating a bottleneck or quality breakdown affecting subsequent steps (see insight 81 following this). If improving individual steps are not the solution, then scrap the process entirely and attempt to define a way to meet the goal through a differing route, such as outsourcing parts or the entire process, doubling the capacity of a segment of production, or redefining the goal itself.
All of these efforts will help you to better know the process to a degree you never expected to achieve. And meeting the challenge of improving productivity is a great morale lift for all, as well as good business practice for the company and management.
Two challenges a manager would face in an effort to increase efficiency would be assessing or reassessing the abilities of personnel, and reassigning them as he deems best. The main challenge might be dealing with egos and presenting the changes in a moral maintaining manner. Good luck.