Process Bottleneck Analysis: Answer these 4 questions.

Have you ever stopped to think why traffic stops when there’s a bottleneck in the road?

Okay, the answer is a bit obvious:

There’s a narrowing of space in the road; fewer cars can pass, so a queue forms behind that bottleneck, with each driver waiting their turn to get past the narrow spot.

In this context, try to answer this question:

What is a company bottleneck?

That’s what it is: A limitation on the progress of a process that causes an accumulation of tasks waiting to be performed.

Do you want to learn how to perform process bottleneck analysis? Take a look at the following four questions and see how to answer them.

See also: How to organize a small business using the Canvas Model
And: 5 awesome ideas for business process simplification

4 questions that will help process bottleneck analysis

Now that you know what process bottlenecks are, it’s time to understand how to analyze them in search of a solution to this unwanted buildup of work.

To do this, just ask yourself these four questions and draw your conclusions:

1- What is being prevented from proceeding due to the bottleneck?

The first response you should look for during your process bottleneck analysis is the process components that are being restricted.

Typically, they fall into three types:

  1. Information: To follow up the process, someone or some system needs information to make a decision or to proceed in the right way. For example, an undersized mail server is making information flow slower through the enterprise.
  2. Product: The production of an item is being restricted by some factor, which we will analyze later.
  3. Service: The delivery of a service is under restraint, and it is necessary to discover this cause.

Now that we know what is being bottle-necked, the next three questions will help us figure out what causes this.

2- What is the reason for the bottleneck and the contributing factors?

Three factors are often responsible for the existence of a bottleneck. Here are the reasons why each of them might be the cause:

  1. People: Inadequate training, constant lack of work, delays in work, selection of inefficient staff and others.
  2. Systems: The system has failures, is outdated, is not compatible with hardware, is hard to use or, even, there is no system, and it’s necessary to acquire one.
  3. Organizational: A lack of clear objectives, confused hierarchy, inadequate company culture, failure leadership, poor organizational climate, lack of strategic planning and other similar causes.

As you saw, the purpose of this question, process bottleneck analysis, is to define the reasons that lead to each factor generating a bottleneck. It can be either one or several of them depending on the case.

3- Is a hand-off producing a bottleneck?

Hand-offHand-off discovery is a very common occurrence when doing process modeling.

Whenever there is a need to exchange information, either between people or between systems or between both, there is a hand-off. And during this exchange of information, there is the risk of delays or failures, which lead to the emergence of bottlenecks.

To learn more about hand-offs, read this post: Handoff strategies: Convert these strategies into results for your company

4- Is a bottleneck occurring due to resource constraints?

There are usually three types of resources that may be insufficient for the process to flow correctly:

  1. Human Resources:  A lack of personnel.
  2. Systemic resources: A lack of systems that integrate the complexity of the process, or that integrate it properly.
  3. Equipment: Insufficient machinery and hardware.

After answering these four questions and each highlighted item, it will be possible to have a broader vision of the process and then process bottleneck analysis will be complete, starting a search for the appropriate solution.

The use of BPM software, in these cases, is highly recommended, as they are tools that help to model processes more efficiently and facilitate collaboration and teamwork.

Want to know more about process design?

Check out this article on our blog: 7 business process modeling tips for laypeople

Do you have a bottleneck problem in your business?

Describe your problem. We can send extra tips on this topic.

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