Eliminate bottlenecks

How to eliminate bottlenecks to deliver customer value more quickly

Reading time: about 5 min

A bottleneck can occur at any point during the life of a project, and they often don’t resolve on their own. Any obstacle interfering with your project may be described as a bottleneck. 

When process bottlenecks occur,  your team’s output may suddenly decrease or stop altogether. By stopping your project from moving forward, bottlenecks may prevent you and your team from reaching your goals and meeting customer expectations. 

Why is it important to deliver customer value quickly? 

Whenever you can deliver customer value more quickly, you help your organization’s overall reputation and ability to meet market demands, improving your competitiveness and making a positive impression on your customers. 

Gives competitive advantage

Delivering value to your customers quickly helps you gain a competitive advantage and stand out. This also allows your organization to meet market demands while the opportunity is there. Moving quickly can give you a significant advantage over those in the same industry. 

Eliminating bottlenecks streamlines your internal processes and delivers value to your end customers more effectively. 

Builds customer loyalty 

Any opportunity to reduce customer churn, or increase customer loyalty, is worth considering. Faster product or service delivery is a big way to offer more value to your customers. 

Focuses on end users 

An emphasis on customer value places the customer’s needs at the center of your project. If you look at your project’s tasks through a lens of customer value, you can prioritize your team’s activity around what is actually best for your users.  

How to eliminate bottlenecks

Before you can effectively eliminate bottlenecks, you’ll need to look carefully at your processes and understand the underlying causes of bottlenecks in the first place. Bottleneck analysis equips you to categorize your bottlenecks and create possible solutions. 

Bottleneck analysis

Reverse engineering your bottlenecks should reveal where in your project work is piling up and delays are occurring. A bottleneck analysis follows three steps to identify and manage bottlenecks. 

1) Map out processes

First, create a process map that shows each step of your project. Business processes, information flows, and other stages in your project should be carefully charted so you can review your progress and performance for weaknesses. 

  • Is responsibility clearly defined and understood in each process? 
  • How are tasks completed successfully and what metrics are followed? 
  • What is the goal of the entire project? 
  • What does the project’s progress towards that goal look like? 
  • How does each process contribute to the final deliverable? 

2) Identify bottlenecks

Next, you’ll look for signs of bottlenecks and categorize any you find, facilitating your understanding and problem-solving. 

Warning signs of a bottleneck: 

  • Poor morale or stress among project team members
  • A backlog of uncompleted work 
  • Extended wait times for customers or within the project
  • Part of the project is taking too long 

If a bottleneck warning sign is present, it’s a symptom revealing that something is wrong within the project—either the bottleneck is systems-based or performer-based.

  • Systems-based: If the bottleneck is based on a system, then it originates from software, infrastructure, or systemic issue. 
  • Performer-based: A bottleneck occurring as a result of individual or team performance issues is performer-based. 

Bottlenecks can also be characterized as short-term and long-term: 

  • Long-term: An ongoing, consistent obstacle encountered more than once. These bottlenecks can interfere with more than one project or cause problems across multiple project stages. 
  • Short-term: Temporary, likely one-time bottlenecks that are expected to be resolved quickly. 

As you look over your processes and performance for possible bottlenecks, consider how to categorize them and understand what’s happening. Creating flowcharts of your processes can help you break down complexity that may be hiding the underlying cause of a bottleneck. 

This will help you determine the scope of your problem and measure the impact bottlenecks are having on your project. Once you know the scale and start identifying possible causes, you can develop potential solutions. 

3) Come up with possible solutions 

Now, as you brainstorm possible solutions, you will need to refer back to what you’ve identified during your bottleneck analysis. The exact solutions you propose for your bottlenecks are largely dependent on how big the bottleneck is and where the problem originates. 

To eliminate bottlenecks, you may look more closely at inputs and efficiencies—what changes can resolve the bottleneck?

  • Boost efficiency: For a process that’s slowing other processes down, you may need to improve efficiency. You could expand the team, use automation, or look for ways to speed up the process. 
  • Add resources: Your process may need more resources, such as funding, materials, time, infrastructure, or an expanded team. 
  • Reduce waste: If your process creates too much output, adjusting input may eliminate the bottleneck. 
  • Implement work-in-progress limits: Scaling back a project so it focuses on fewer tasks at the same time may alleviate the bottleneck. 
  • Run a test: Before implementing a possible solution, you could test it out with a limited batch or a small project group and compare the results with what you currently do. 

Once you’ve identified possible solutions, consider how you’ll compare and evaluate solutions and their impact on your process. Note how you’ll determine which solutions are effective and successfully eliminate bottlenecks.

With bottlenecks in your project appropriately identified and addressed, your team can get back to focusing on how to delight your customers. 


Eliminate bottlenecks

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Lucidchart, a cloud-based intelligent diagramming application, is a core component of Lucid Software's Visual Collaboration Suite. This intuitive, cloud-based solution empowers teams to collaborate in real-time to build flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, customer journey maps, and more. Lucidchart propels teams forward to build the future faster. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucidchart.com.

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