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  • Writer's pictureSofie Curtis

Bottlenecks and how to improve them

What is a Bottleneck? In business manufacturing, this term is used frequently to describe an inefficiency of a production line. However, a bottleneck can also be used to describe an inefficiency in a process or a workflow. Picture water running through a bottle, where the neck of the bottle prevents the flow of water to go at a steady stream – it creates a choke, and the water takes longer to come out. The same idea is applied when discussing process bottlenecks. Now, how can a bottleneck be improved or solved?

Define Problem - The first step to improve a process bottleneck is to define it. If you look at your tasks for the day, week, or month, which are the tasks you struggle to complete? You may identify multiple bottlenecks in different departments. Some examples: social media post process in the Marketing Department, recording of cash flows/bookkeeping in the Finance Department, missing process checklists and SOPs (standard operating procedures) in the Operations Department.

Analyze Problem - The second step is to figure out why a task causes an inefficiency. Ask yourself “why do you struggle to complete a certain task?” The answer to this question may be due to lack of knowledge, lack of motivation, lack of overview, lack of discipline, or that the task is highly time consuming. Really dig deep to analyze the “why” since it can give you more insight in the problem and will set you on the right track to solve or improve the problem.

Plan the Solution – The third step is to investigate potential solutions to the problem and planning for them. If the problem is lack of knowledge, you can do some research, obtain a certificate, or outsource the labor. If the problem is lack of motivation or discipline, you can find ways to make the task more fun or creative, add the task to your calendar, or you can get an accountability partner. If the problem is lack of overview or it is highly time consuming, it can be of benefit to make a checklist or a step-by-step SOP to free up memory and to eliminate unnecessary steps.

Execution of solution – The fourth and last step is to execute the chosen solution. Follow through with your decision and make a change for the better! The key is to make your life a whole lot easier by eliminating tasks and problems in your business that creates inefficiencies. We all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses or bottlenecks. Anyone who leans on their strengths while simultaneously improving their bottlenecks will notice an increase in productivity and work satisfaction.

- Sofie

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