Waste is everywhere in a business, and waiting is a common hidden waste that robs profit like the meter running on a waiting taxi. Often a small business owner doesn’t know where the waste is in their business until they analyze a process with an intent to eliminate the waste.

Consider implementing a “Constant And Never-Ending Improvement” or CANI program at your office. Challenge your staff to rethink or even completely eliminating unnecessary duties. Imagine if each person were to identify five relatively minor 12 minute improvements per month.  Now obviously improvements don’t come in neat little 12 minute packages, but for example purposes, look at how small improvements add up over the year:

If you can eliminate an hour of routine work in a position each month by improving a process the impact accumulates over 12 months to 78 hours saved per month after the 12th month. This delicious CANI recipe is equal to more than a part time person worth of work per position per year, or half of a modest $24,000 annual salary!  Now multiply that by the number of staff on your team.

But this recipe won’t work without the magic sauce.

So what’s the magic sauce?  It’s waste awareness or “waste eyes”.  It’s about training your team and developing a culture that can see the difference between the value and the waste in their work. It’s training them to enhance the value and identify and eliminate the waste, individually and as a team.

One of the ways we cultivate a culture of CANI at visp.net is with weekly Impact meetings.  These are like department meetings, but include all parties involved in a high-impact area of the company.  For example, our “Innovate!” impact meeting includes software developer, tester and system administration team leaders. We ask the question each week, “How can we eliminate waste, increase value and create WOW’s for our clients this week?”  We keep an agenda and meeting notes in Google Docs with these guidlines:

  • Anyone in the company can add an idea as an agenda item
  • Ideas can be added at any time during the week
  • Anyone in the company can join any impact meeting as a guest
  • Guest topics are discussed first so the guest can return to work
  • The meeting happens every week and begins exactly on time.
  • Meetings are 50 minutes or less and end on time. (this allows a 10 minute break for those staff that join multiple impact meetings).
  • Impact areas at visp.net include our highest impact areas: Marketing, Innovation, Wow delivery (customer service), and Team Support (accounting, culture development and staff training)
  • These guidlines evolve as common sense leads

How CANI help?
We could fill pages with the improvements from just the last month, but for this article, we’re pleased to report one simple example how our CANI has recently helped your CANI:

Recently you may have noticed significantly improved the load time on Version 6 Release Candidate Beta. ISPs with a modest subscriber count will notice a small improvement. Our tests show that an ISP with around 1000 subscribers will notice about a four-fold faster load time and up to a ten fold improvement for those managing the Multi ISP brands with several thousand records. This was accomplished by breaking the load query down into multiple smaller, optimized queries that execute much faster than they do together. The sum of the parts was much greater than the whole.

Perhaps these recent improvements will save you and your staff just 12 minutes during your month, but perhaps it’s a little more clear now why we’re so passionate about even the small incremental improvements that make your life easier.

Further reading: visp.net lean accounting case study, Wikipedia article on lean manufacturing.