reducing process waste

Reducing Process Waste With Tim Woods

By: Jack Selman

You might be reading this thinking “who is Tim Woods” and “why should I care?” 

Tim Woods is an acronym used to describe major types of process waste. It’s a fundamental part of the Lean Six Sigma methodology that looks at reducing process waste and enhancing quality.  

Tim Woods is a quick, simple, and easy framework you can use to identify, understand and eliminate process waste. By changing or removing steps in your business process that do not add value, you can improve productivity and quality, and reduce time, cost, and effort to deliver. 

So what does Tim Woods actually mean? 

Tim Woods stands for: 

  • Transport – moving stuff around.  
  • Inventory – storing stuff. 
  • Movement – how people move around their environment to work. 
  • Waiting – time spent waiting for stuff.  
  • Overproduction – making too much stuff.  
  • Over-processing – making stuff to an unnecessarily high standard.  
  • Defects – doing extra / more / repeated stuff due to poor quality.  
  • Skills – doing the right stuff, but with the wrong people. 

Reducing process waste identified in Tim Woods

Transport waste could be people, data, or materials. Examples of transport waste include conducting site visits to hold meetings, moving raw materials around a warehouse, and even moving data between systems and spreadsheets. 

Inventory waste could be data, materials, or components. This comes in the form of output that is stored and retained (like a warehouse full of built machines, or servers full of content ready to ship). It’s a form of waste because storage of inventory requires time, cost, and effort to both store in the first place, and to maintain. 

Movement waste could be physical or digital ergonomics. Think of your office; if you print lots of information and the printer is on the other side of the room, each time you have to move to and from the printer you’re wasting time, effort, and resources. Far better to put the print next to you! And what about in digital work? Many, many layers of nested folders and subfolders are also a form of motion waste.  

Waiting waste could be data, materials, or instructions. If you can’t do your work because the step in the process before you hasn’t passed any work to you, then your time spent waiting is wasteful. This could include receipt of raw materials in order to begin further work. In a digital sense, think about how your work is managed and the process you follow; there’s likely a step that has to take place before you can do your job, and if there’s no input into your section of work, you’re left waiting. 

Over-production waste could be components or information. Simply put; creating too much of a thing. This could be too many physical goods or too much digital content. For example, producing a supply of 10 cars when the demand is only 8 means there are 2 created that are surplus. This has the potential to impact or stimulate other types of waste too, so should be watched carefully.  

Over-processing waste is also known as “gold-plating”. This can include delivering work according to standards, tolerances, or requirements that are needlessly excessive. Examples could include adding more fields or tables to your idea or project form than you really need or moving your business case through a workflow that has more steps than are required. 

Defects waste covers all the work you have to carry out in order to undo the result of a defect. If you have to rework, correct, amend or modify your work, this is a waste. This is especially dangerous for manufacturing, industrial, and logistics sectors where there is a physical element to the work that involves raw materials. It may be easier to handle defects in a digital capacity (for example, re-sending a quote for your good and services), but this doesn’t mean it’s less impactful for your business. 

Skills waste comes from a failure to use the right people for the right jobs. It’s not uncommon to see people adopting multiple roles in the modern workplace, even if in an informal capacity. Many do this to help keep projects and processes moving effectively, however, without the correct skills and capability, people can have an adverse effect on a process. This may result in a process that is actually less productive, not more. 

So there you have it! Look at your processes and think about where you can see Tim Woods. Then look at what you can do to start reducing this process waste. 

Our first recommendation? Leverage the edison365 suite to clearly understand your end-to-end transformation process, reduce the need to move information between systems, eliminate unnecessary additional steps in the process, and easily call on the right resources at the right time to help you manage your work effectively. 

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