The muda of overproduction is caused by producing more than is necessary or required. It is a terrible waste of resources and time. It puts needless wear on office machines, uses up more supplies than are needed and tasks employees to do work that is not needed.
Remember muda is waste. It is anything that adds time, resources, or cost without adding value. The muda of overproduction in the greatest of all of the 7 wastes.
Here are some of the forms of the muda of overproduction you will find in the office and IT environment. This is a short list and I am sure you can find much more.
- Creating reports that nobody reads
- Creating reports that contain more information than is needed.
- Compiling more data than is needed for the task
- Printing paperwork that is not needed
- Preparing more equipment than is needed
- Too many redundant systems
- Duplicate records and systems
Build Your Team
Elimination of muda is the next logical step in improvement for your 5S team. You can tackle muda without a 5S System, but having a 5S System and a 5S Team already in place will give you a foundation and a structure to work with. If you do not already have a 5S System in place read our articles on implementing a 5S System.
You should treat the elimination of muda as an ongoing project and every project needs a team. Your team should be compiled of a cross-section of upper-management, managers, supervisors and most importantly the team members who do the work. You want to pick team members with an “eye for organization” and people who very familiar with the various processes and systems used to produce the products in your departments.
Once you have picked your team hold your first meeting and educate your team members. Teach them about 7 categories of muda and how eliminating muda will improve your organization. Setup a planning meeting on how to tackle the first muda of overproduction.
How to Eliminate the Muda of Overproduction
Everything your departments produce is a “product”. Each of these products has customers both internal and external. Your goal in the elimination of the muda of overproduction is to produce no more than is needed by your customers.
To be able to eliminate overproduction you must first examine your products and your customers, both internal and external that use what you produce. This will help you understand what is being produced and how the customer uses it. With this knowledge you will be able to see what can be eliminated.
If your company is large enlist the help of leaders in each department. You may need to create separate teams for specific departments and treat each one as a separate project. The theme is the same, but due to the amount of products and customers involved you may find it easier to manage by using smaller, specific groups.
The first task for your team is to make a list of all of the products, who produces them and who uses them. These products come in many forms. They can be reports, data produced, or equipment produced or prepared. These products may be created for internal and external customers. You will be surprised just how much is produced.
An example of a product is a weekly report of statistics on the call volume to your service desk. This report is produced by your service desk manager and is read by top-level and mid-level management. Log this report by naming it, who produces it and the individuals who read it.
You will also need to match a product with the process used to create it. Include the process and any standard work instructions used to produce your products. If a product is needed and you cannot eliminate it you can reduce muda by improving the process used to create them.
Interview or Survey Your Customers
Now that you have a list of your customers you need to meet with them or develop a survey form for them to fill out. The information you need to know is what products they currently receive, and what products or parts of those products do they actually use.
You may have a two page report that details every aspect of your service desk activity for the previous week. Does the customer need all of this data or do they only read part of it or use some of this data in other reports they prepare?
You may also find there is data your customer would like to have, but does not receive. While your desire may not be to create more work, you should be providing the data your customer needs to do their job more effectively. This interview or survey process is an excellent method to find out if you are meeting the needs of your customers.
To be able to cut overproduction waste you MUST know what your customer needs and uses. If there is data being produced that they do not use or need you have muda!
Examine Your Processes and Work Instructions
For instance for the service desk report your service desk manager prepares the report by collecting data from the service desk software, then manually entering the data into a spreadsheet from which the data for the report is calculated. They then prune the data to create the report.
Examine your processes or work instructions looking for ways to make them more efficient and so that they only produce the product the customer needs. You can use standard process improvement practices to streamline and improve the process.
- Is this step needed?
- Yes, then can it be improved?
- No, then can it be eliminated?
Standardized Work and Work Instructions
At this point I would like to point out how you can benefit by having standardized work or work instructions for your processes. There is only one way to do something and that is the best way. In the spirit of Kaizen and continuous improvement that best way can always be improved on as products and the needs of the customers change.
Having step-by-step instructions on the process for producing a service desk report lays the groundwork for improving that process. Improving the process will allow you to further eliminate waste.
Eliminate the Waste
First see if there are any products that customers do not need. If you can eliminate a report or data collection you have hit the holy grail of muda reduction. Think of all of the time and resources saved by eliminating such products.
Next examine the products to see if they contain more than the customer needs. Most top-level and mid-level management are busy people. They may not have time to review a two-page report every week. You can reduce your waste and improve the chances they will gain value added information from the report is to reduce it to an executive summary. They may not need to know all of the details. Rather than a full list of all of the calls to the service desk for the week, just create a top ten list and compare it against the average. Did it go up or down? Were there areas that showed a large increase or decrease? This is information they can use to determine if there is a need for a root cause analysis or further investigation.
When it comes to your reports and data production use the K.I.S.S. principle. Keep It Simple Stupid. Produce the product in a format that best fits the needs of the customer.
Other Areas of Overproduction
Duplication is another muda of overproduction. How many products have more than one person or group tracking data or producing reports that basically have the same or parts of the same information? If this is the case consider dividing the duties and sharing the data or only have one person or group responsible for producing this product.
In an IT department equipment used to run the IT infrastructure is another area to look at for overproduction elimination. Do your technicians produce more equipment than is needed to meet current usage needs? To find out you may need to establish a usage tracking system to determine how much of what equipment is used and when. I am sure there are plenty of other tasks that can be found for them to do!
A Service Desk analyst may create a new incident without checking to see if one already exists. This is a waste of time, database space and leads to poor customer service.
Be sure and look at every department, every customer and every product. I am sure you will find areas where products are produced that you were not even aware of. Often products have been around for years, never changed and may be overlooked. It was just always assumed the product was needed. At the least it probably needs to be updated.
As you can see this first step in muda elimination is also an education on your products and your customers. Not only will you eliminate the muda of overproduction, but you will gain valuable insight into your products and your customers. The end result will be the elimination of muda and customers who are more satisfied with the products you do produce. A total win-win situation!
The muda of overproduction is the most wasteful of all. It wastes resources, time and money. First you need to establish a team and plan for muda elimination. Next interview or survey your customers to determine what products they receive, use and do not need. Examine your processes for creating reports, producing data and all other products. Excess steps and duplication are wastes that can easily be eliminated.
Your goal is to identify the waste in processes and products and eliminate them. The time, resources, reduction in machine usage and money saved will make the effort more than worthwhile. Once is not enough when it comes to eliminating muda. Hold regular meetings to examine all of these areas again to see if overproduction or other muda has crept back in.
Stay tuned for further articles on the remaining 6 areas of muda in the office and IT environment.