It’s All About Flow Efficiency

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Processes are often organised according to what is logical for the company and the needs of it’s different units – and not on the basis of what is the shortest and most efficient way for the flow-unit (product or case) to pass through the process.

Process optimisation is about creating the most possible efficient flow in a defined process, by removing bottlenecks and non-value creating activities – and hereby achieve the most possible ‘boiled down’ process. We do this by mapping and redesigning the task-flow from start to finish, along with process stakeholders. In this work we identify waste (non-value added activities) and improvement potential.

Value Stream Mapping



One concept very essential to improvement work is ‘variance’. Variance cannot be completely avoided, but variance creates bottlenecks and/or waiting time, which in turn creates ‘secondary needs’. A secondary need could be e.g. the need for a coordination meeting with the recipient to find compensatory solutions.

Or additional information to the recipient (or customer) to keep them informed of the situation. Secondary needs pull extra resources that stresses the organization and results in errors and ‘rework’, which in turn creates more variance = bottlenecks/waiting etc.

Reducing Variance

1. Available resources

The red line indicates how many resoures, e.g. people and equipment, we have available.


2. Need for resources

The black line indicates how many resources we utilise in order to perform.


The red dots show where we do not have enough resources due to fluctuation in quality.


3. Goal

In order to remove the red dots we have to focus on reducing variance through increased quality in the process – indicated by the dotted line.

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The benefits of deploying process optimization are e.g.:

  • Increased quality of output e.g. for the benefit of the customer
  • Cost reduction through eliminating waste (e.g. unnecessary storage and transport, error, return flow and low productivity)
  • Clarity about responsibilities, handover and deliverables
  • Promotes holistic thinking in the organization and ensure efficiency across silos
  • Strengthens the role of the leader and the communication
  • Establish practices for continuous improvement: Visual Management, Problem Solving, and Standardisation
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Niels Dalhoff is Partner in Danish LEAN Partner.
This reinforces the quality of our deliverables and our delivery viability.