Process Management or Time Management? That Is the Question

I was talking with a friend the other day who, was lamenting that she had too much work and not enough time to get it all done. Her manager contended the reason was that she and her teammate did not understand how to manage their time. This is an age-old argument that I hear often in the workplace.

It is a tendency for many in management roles to immediately assume that the root cause of any organizational problems is that the human capital assets can’t perform their responsibilities.

Their assumption is that the way to resolve the issues is just to replace the human capital. However many studies have been done over time which show the real problem is rooted in the various processes within the organization.

We will agree that there can be circumstances where this view is correct. This would occur in those cases where the human capital assets have either not had the sufficient training to perform the responsibilities or that they have just decided in their minds that they will not do what is expected from them. In these circumstances the answer to the question is that time management comes first.

The solution is to coach the human capital assets so they gain the missing skills or coach them to the best way to leave the organization.

While we will stipulate, as we did above, that there are incidences where time management is the root cause, the vast majority of situations when this problem arises in an organization the real root cause is the very processes utilized by the organization. In a push for increased profits and revenues we force tasks through the organization. We force a workload on the human capital that results in long days and increased stress. Business has begun to awake to the fact that a push climate is not in the organization’s best interests. The direct result is that the organization gets overloaded.

The silver lining in this cloud is that the TLS Continuum toolbox provides us with a tool to identify where the process breakdown occurs. It is called TAKT time. TAKT time is derived from a German word, which describes the rate that things move through the organization. Originally designed for the factory floor it can be utilized in any process where there are process steps being implemented.

How does TAKT time work? To implement TAKT time, we need to begin by determining several data points. The first data point is to determine how many shifts are affected by the process. For example sake, we will determine that we have a single shift per day. The second data point is the length of that shift in hours. This provides the basis of the TAKT time calculation because it establishes the total available time to complete any tasks assigned to the functional area.

The next three data points look at the amount of time we lose each day from the available time. These data points consider how much time we provide for breaks, lunch and planed down time. When we total these exceptions and then subtract them from the available time, we are left with the total available work time in minutes. We then need to convert the total minutes to seconds.

The next data point is the most critical to the calculation. It tells the organization what the customer is demanding in the way of process outputs. It represents the work that the customer is willing to pay for. It also provides the organization with a picture of how well the process can work.

The final data point is the key to management on how well the process can work. It takes the total number of tasks expected to be completed per shift, and divides it into the total available time. The result provides us with a clear picture as to whether the process is functioning at the maximum efficiency.

To paint a better picture of this tool let’s look at an example:

Data Point #1: Number of Shifts per day   1

Data Point #2: Duration of the shift           8

Data Point #3: Break Time                         30 minutes

Data Point #4: Lunch time                         60 minutes

Data Point #5: Downtime                          30 minutes

Data Point #6: Available time                   360 minutes

Data Point #7: Available time                   21600 seconds

Data Point #8: Client demands               75 new hire searches

Data Point #9: TAKT Time                      288 seconds


What is the result telling us? If our data points are creditable and valid, the organization needs to understand that if we are expected to fill 75 sourcing tasks a day with the time we have available, then we have exactly 288 seconds or 4.8 minutes per search. Think about your organization, would this be a reasonable demand for your operation?

This brings us back to our original question. When we find that tasks are piling up and processes are being slowed down is it a process management issue or time management issue? The answer is that it depends. 

While it may clearly be the result of an employee refusing to do what is expected, it more likely a case of the organization pushing through demands into the process, which makes it unreasonable to expect the workload can be completed in the available time in a shift to get it accomplished.

The clear path is to change the workflow from a push environment where we continue to force work to the function resulting in backlogs, added stress in the organization and failed fulfillment of the voice of the customer. The alternative is to move to one where we move demands through the organizational processes when the organization can adequately meet those demands. 

TAKT time is the tool to assist you inn reaching that goal as it clearly demonstrates whether the system can handle the added demand.

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Comment by Keith Halperin on April 28, 2014 at 1:44pm

Thanks, Daniel. ISTM that those recruiting tasks most easily analyzable by TAKT are those low-touch, low-value add, routinized, non-creative areas which would be best "trans-sourced" (no-sourced, through-sourced,or outsourced) for less than U.S minimum wage. i.e. use TAKT to figure out what tasks your people SHOULDN'T be doing....




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