How long should the process take?

When a process owner receives comments about how long it takes, a good leader will undertake an examination of the process to see where, if necessary, how the process time can be decreased.

In business process language, the process flow time should be analysed to understand the make up of the process. Each activity in the process has an average time (and variability) to complete. In a sequential process, simply add up all the average activity times to obtain a total average process flow time. The total is also called the theoretical flow time – an idealized time.

However, a process may also have waiting time between activities. The waiting time is concerned with process inventory that is sitting in a ‘buffer’ between activities. We now have:

Average process flow time =  theoretical flow time + waiting time.

We can develop an efficiency measurement:

Efficiency = theoretical flow time/average flow time = %.

A leader can now investigate ways to improve the efficiency of the process and increase the efficiency.

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