Every business has bottlenecks that prevent it from realizing its true potential. Bottlenecks can be overcome, but only if you’re willing to look within the operations, identify issues, and take a data-driven approach to solve them.
In this article, we’ll share some of the common bottlenecks you may experience in business, and what you can do to overcome them.
What is a Business Process Bottleneck?
A business process bottleneck is a chokepoint in the flow of work that limits the amount of work that can be completed in a given period of time. This can be due to a lack of resources, such as people, machines, or materials, or it can be due to process limitations, such as slowdowns in the workflow or inefficient process steps.
Some process bottlenecks are due to outside dependencies, such as waiting on parts from suppliers or approvals from regulators. Other process bottlenecks are due to issues within the company, such as inefficient process steps or inadequate staffing.
- Common signs of process bottlenecks include:
- Work piling up in front of the bottleneck
- Long wait times for process steps downstream
- Excessive rework due to process bottlenecks
- High levels of stress and frustration among employees
Once you’ve identified these issues, you can then start taking actions that will both remove these bottlenecks AND help put your business on the path to sustainability and scalability.
A Few Examples of Bottlenecks in Business
There are many different types of process bottlenecks that can occur in business. Some common examples include:
Inefficient process steps: This type of bottleneck occurs when there are process steps that are taking too long or are inefficient. This can often be due to a lack of process knowledge or process improvements.
Inadequate staffing: This type of bottleneck occurs when there are not enough people to complete the work in the process. This can often be due to a lack of budget or a skills shortage.
Poorly designed process: This type of bottleneck occurs when the process itself is not well designed. This can often be due to a lack of process knowledge or process improvements.
Supplier delays: This type of bottleneck occurs when process steps are waiting on parts or materials from suppliers. This can often be due to a lack of communication or poor supplier management.
Customer delays: This type of bottleneck occurs when process steps are waiting on approvals or feedback from customers. This can often be due to a lack of communication or poor customer management.
How to Overcome Bottlenecks in Business
If you’re in business, you know that bottlenecks can happen anywhere along the process, from finding the right supplier to fulfilling orders. And while it’s impossible to avoid them altogether, there are ways to identify and overcome bottlenecks so they don’t slow down your business.
Track your process
One way to identify bottlenecks is to track your process from start to finish, so you can see where the bottlenecks are happening. You can use process mapping to do this, which involves creating a flowchart of your process. This will help you visualize where the bottlenecks are and what’s causing them.
Make data-driven improvements
The next phase in overcoming the bottlenecks is is by process improvement, which is making changes to your process so it runs more smoothly. This could involve streamlining your process, automating steps where possible, and eliminating unnecessary steps.
The best approach to this is through a data-driven one.
You’ve already tracked the process. Now, use a combination of feedback, insights, and real-world data to find ways to remove friction. If you can’t do this directly then seek professionals that can help ease the burden by way of their labor or through a tool.
Another way to overcome bottlenecks is by adding capacity, which is essentially increasing your resources so you can handle more volume. This could involve hiring more staff, investing in new equipment, or renting additional space.
There are a variety of ways to overcome bottlenecks in business, and the best approach will depend on the situation. Once you commit and strive to adjust processes, you can keep your business running smoothly and prevent slowdowns.
Where to Get Help With Improving Your Business Workflows
You’re not alone in dealing with bottlenecks in business. There are a few places you can get help with process improvements:
- Your local chamber of commerce or business development center may have resources and workshops available to help you improve your process
- Find helpful books and articles on process improvement
- Software applications are available that can help you map out your process flow and identify potential bottlenecks
- Consultants who specialize in process improvement can help you assess your process and implement improvements
No matter where you get help, the important thing is to take action and improve your process to prevent bottlenecks from slowing down your business.
You Got This!
Don’t let the success of your business hinge on a bottleneck. Take action, today, with a data-driven approach that identifies issues and tackles them in an efficient way. In doing so, you’ll unlock your true potential and exceed your loftiest goals!
When you’re ready to take that leap to the next level…