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Bottlenecks in a Process

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A bottleneck is any supply where the demand placed on it is greater that the capacity it can produce; it is a hold back that a system may have in that it limits the throughput of the process. For a firm to be effective it must work at a capacity – constrained resource so as to balance the supply and demand (Aquilano, 2005). The business also needs to be cautious not to turn events to non-bottleneck. In customer service the customer expected service level is the most important part that must be accomplished. The customer is an integral part in any business and the business cannot afford to offer sub standard services to him/her.

 In this case the delivery process must be effective to ensure that the customer needs are met or addressed effectively. To measure the effectiveness of this process the total delivery time is equal to order placement time added to prepare time added to delivery time. This paper identifies the bottlenecks in the order placement process i.e. from the time the customer care representative answers the customer’s phone call to the time he/she says thank you and hangs up the phone.

The problems identified in the order placement process are; that it is slow and does not meet the customer expected service level, it is repetitive in the information being exchanged; this is brought about by the extensive and unnecessary phone communication, and there is also frequent incorrect orders that are caused by poor handwriting, inconsistent format, inconsistent order placement, incorrect delivery fee due to distance variance, and inaccurate radius methods to approximate distance. The average total time in delivery is 24.07 and the average order placement time is 4.114 which must be reduced to ensure high profits. The average preparation and delivery time is 8.892 and 11.067 respectively. Reduction in the order placement time will reduce errors in the preparing and delivery hence reduces the time and this will contribute to reduced total delivery time.

The process has too many loopholes that consume a lot of time in the preparation and delivery time caused by the order placement period. The total delivery time is also affected thus affecting the service delivery to the customer which results to inefficiency.

The order placement process includes answering the customer’s phone-inquiring the name - phone number – address – inquiring address main intersection – identifying fee per distance – taking the customer’s food order – calculating the cost – inquiring the payment method – for cash leads to thank you and hang up but for credit card the credit card information and payment must be collected before thanking the customer. The bottlenecks of this process must be identified and solved to ensure the company meets its goals.

In developing his theory Goldratt (Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints (TOC)) argues that the main aim of the business is to make money and others purposes of the business such as; providing jobs, increasing sales, consuming raw materials, increasing market share, high-quality products production, and developing technology are a means to achieve the main goal Aquilano, 2005). After achieving the goal of making money then other objectives are easy to accomplish.

For this to happen; the set up time, processing time, queuing time, waiting time, and idle time must be effectively utilized  effectively without any delays (Srikanth, & Umble, 1997). To find out the bottlenecks one can run a capacity resource profile or applying the knowledge of the process and actual participation in the process or working with the supervisors and workers. Having found out the above problems in the process solving them is the next step through drum, buffer and rope (Goldratt, & Cox, 1992).

For the slow order process there is need for the business to establish a customer profile, this will identify loyal customers and help in minimizing the time taken to talk to the customer. Creating a database for the customers will help in avoiding the questions like the phone number and address where a code will be given for each customer. This will mean that the customer is only asked about any changes in his profile that he/she needs and this will effectively reduce the customer talk time and hence fasten the process. This will also assist in eliminating the problem of repetitive information exchange brought about by the extensive unnecessary phone communication.

If the business sets up of zones in the delivery market it will assist reduce the bottlenecks that arise due to frequent incorrect orders. By establishing a consistent format of the zones and giving them codes will be easier since there will be no errors due to poor handwriting. The zones are also effective in that the customer care representative will be able to easily identify the delivery fee from the automatically generated fee when the zone of the customer is identified. The zones also eliminate the inaccurate radius method to establish order delivery and thus the system is efficient and thus translates to a capacity – constrained resource. Units set up in the database will help in identifying customers by their units and thus each order will be placed consistently. The units will be used in the preparation and delivery time where each unit must deliver a set number of orders. The units will help the customer care representative place the orders in the kitchen and be correct in estimating the time to be taken for the delivery to take place.

The database will also be containing credit card information (which will be confidential) thus the process of collecting the information will be eliminated if the customer has not changed the payment method. Training of the staff will also be a drumming effect in order to ensure the order placement is effective. This drumming, buffering and rope will make the order placement process that involves the contact with the customer through phone effective and hence increase financial output i.e. net profit, return on investment, cash flow and operations output i.e. throughput, inventory, and operating expenses while still focusing on quality production as proposed in Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints (TOC). However the business should focus on turning bottlenecks into non bottlenecks where the supply surpasses demand.

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