What are process barriers

Total cycle time

The critical review of the activities within the business process of companies is an essential condition in order to shorten their duration and thus bring about a cost reduction in a company without any loss of quality in the products. This critical consideration and, if necessary, changes to business processes are successfully practiced in a large number of companies under the heading of Business Process Reengineering (BPR). In a broader sense, this approach can be understood as a process improvement. Kaizen and Total Cycle Time (TCT) are used as methods for identifying and eliminating weak points that reduce the efficiency of business processes.

The overarching goal of significantly reducing the process duration (cycle time) is controlled with the TCT. The aim is to reduce process costs, which is driven by a simultaneous improvement in quality and an increase in adherence to deadlines. This presupposes a consideration of the process time in constant connection with customer satisfaction, adherence to deadlines and process quality. The specialty of the procedure in the TCT is that the identified barriers that hinder the process flow are removed as well as substitute processes that do not reduce problems (barriers) but only bypass them. Replacement processes are considered to be caused by barriers. For example, error reporting is understood as a substitute process for circumventing the problem (the barrier) of the occurrence of errors. If there were no errors, no error reporting would be required. The task of the process or barrier removal teams is to uncover the barriers and substitute processes that do not produce any customer benefit and consequently do not create any value.

In the TCT, a distinction is made between material, process and cultural barriers. If parts or information are not available or if the material is not free from defects, there are material barriers. Downtimes and waiting times or unnecessary duplication of work are process barriers. Cultural barriers concern unclear goals, problems in cooperation or a lack of customer orientation. This distinction is an essential starting point, especially for overcoming barriers, their weighting within company management and their contribution to process shortening: In this way, barriers can be overcome relatively easily, although they usually occur in large numbers. However, the contribution of material barriers to process shortening is relatively modest. In contrast, there are fewer cultural barriers and they are much more difficult to dismantle, but it is from them that the greatest effect on shortening the cycle can be expected.

Both methods, both Total Cycle Time and Kaizen, have in common that they suspect the efficiency-reducing weaknesses in the content and sequence of all process levels. They also have in common that they are based on the participation of the process workers and assign a central role to team or group work. However, they differ in terms of the terminology used, as they come from different cultures: TCT comes from the USA and Kaizen from Japan.