The majority of companies manage their operations by looking at traditional service metrics: are we processing 90% of cases within SLA? Managing work like this has some disadvantages.
- If within service is there spare capacity in an area
- If some processes are outside SLA and some within what does this mean?
- How do I know if there is a problem brewing?
Is there a better way to gauge your current service delivery and forecast its trajectory in to the future.
A key measure we use is Work in Progress (WIP) measured in time. i.e. how many hours of work are outstanding at any point in time.
It is different from a count of work open on a workflow system, as not all of this work will have actions outstanding on it (e.g. cases waiting for customer to come back with information). Also, it is looked at in terms of effort (man-hours) as opposed to counts of items. This enables the amount of different work to be combined in a common currency of time.
For each team we can work out what the ideal level of work in progress should be. This is a level at which service and efficiency is balanced. If work in progress goes above this level for a team, SLA could start to be missed. Significantly above this level and SLA will be broken. If the work in progress goes below this level, then we may be missing an opportunity to prioritise something else – for example training or a project to improve our processes.
A simple graph of work in progress can give a sense of where it is going:
The blue link indicates the work in progress for a team. The green line is the target WIP and the red line is the level above which the team will be consistently outside service.
What is useful about this graph is:
(1) You can see the direction of travel
(2) Becomes powerful when it is combined with service metrics
(3) It quantifies the amount of “backlog” or capacity opportunity
(4) It puts a common measure across all teams so you can look at this at team/department or enterprise level
The ActiveOps Workware system presents this information in real time and the ActiveOps operational method drives planning and control decisions based on real and accurate data to drive best outcomes for your business.