You are in your car and suddenly you find the two-lane highway narrowing to one lane. Traffic flow slows to the pace at which two lanes of traffic can merge into one. Your speed of 60 slows to perhaps 20 and can even be a stop and go to move ahead one car length. This is a bottleneck.
Bottlenecks are occurring everywhere in the business world. Bottleneck in business happen in the processes employed in every business. They happen in production, distribution, fulfillment, billing, filing, etc. They happen in manufacturing companies, distribution, retail, construction, real estate, consulting, financial services, and service businesses of all kinds. Bottlenecks are rampant in non-profits, and in government and the bureaucracies they employ.
I believe the primary culprits that cause bottlenecks are these:
- Inadequate infrastructure—capacity has topped out
- Inefficient processes—the quantity of raw material (or data) processed in a given time, known as ‘throughput’ has topped out
- Poorly trained workers—individual production has topped out
Capacity constraints affect a company’s ability to grow. Firms that find themselves bumping up against their system’s capacity constraints soon find that growth has stopped; profits begin to decline unless expenses are cut accordingly.
Any part of your business that has a capacity bottleneck will find the production and efficiency of everyone reduced to the speed of throughput at the bottleneck. The operation will slow to the lowest common denominator—the productivity at the slowest part of the process.
For example, if a bottleneck is reducing throughput by 30%, and your customers are unwilling to wait in line, your sales levels could be 30% lower than what they should be. How much margin are you losing at the bottleneck? If your normal throughput is $1,000,000 annually and the bottleneck reduces it by 30%, you have a new sales level of $700,000. At a gross margin of 60% applied to the lost sales of $300,000, the lost profits amount to $180,000! And this is just a one million dollar organization!
Worse yet, are you paying for “stand around” time while the under performing parts of your process “catch up” to the rest of your production?
What could you do with the money that you are leaving on the table?
As for the government bottlenecks, they just seem to throw more people and money at it without addressing the three culprits. And you and I are paying for this bad practice as government and bureaucracies have become the largest employer of record throughout our entire economy!
If you are concerned that your business is leaving money on the table due to bottlenecks, and want to quantify the expense and explore alternative solutions, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630.269.7646. I’m available to discuss options to unlock the revenue and increase cash flow.