In a previous blog, I shared with you how to properly identify the problems in your processes. In my work leading teams through process improvement, it wouldn’t be a surprise if you were able to name a hundred problems.
Facing this number of issues could be overwhelming, especially in a service-based business (non-manufacturing), where it’s harder to track problems. This is where the categorization of problems comes in. This comes straight from the Toyota Production System (TPS).
There’s a term in TPS called the “Eight Wastes”. In this two-part blog series, I’m going to share with you how it relates to services. The “Eight Wastes” are categories in which we frame problems. It helps us brainstorm the types of issues we see in our operations and categorize them better to solve problems better.
When talking about services, the Eight Wastes are the eight ways that you can potentially create a barrier to your customers’ ideal experience. These are the things that block you from delivering on your brand promise. You might have a great vision, amazing branding, and excellent values, but your ability to operationalize them is where you fall short.
This type of waste is very straightforward but very interesting. It’s wasted time waiting for the next step of the process. For example, if you have paperwork that is handed off from sales to service for onboarding, and then it waits. That’s waste, also known as inefficiency or being unproductive.
Another form of waiting could be when a customer gets onboarded but doesn’t yet get their first service scheduled. Or maybe the installation is happening during your fulfillment process, and the customer has to wait for someone to arrive. Any type of waiting is a form of waste because it affects the ability to deliver an ideal customer experience.
Motion is the second type of waste. This refers to unnecessary movements by people. Walking is one of them. During our time at Toyota, we would do time studies of the salespeople. We would find that they’d walk between sets of five to seven miles a day in the dealership, chasing down paperwork. This equated to about two and a half hours a day that they could be selling.