April 28, 2017

Lean Six Sigma at Your Firm: Overproduction

by Debbie Foster, Affinity Consulting Group, LLC

Applying the methodologies of Lean Six Sigma in your firm will help you focus on “Doing things right, and doing the right things.”

Previously, we introduced waste and defined it as anything that does not add value to the client. If your client is not willing to pay for it, it does not change their situation; or if it’s not done right the first time, it is likely waste. Defects was the first waste we introduced, and we simply defined it as mistakes.

The second waste is OVERPRODUCTION. The simplest way to look at overproduction is when you find yourself doing more than is required, or working harder than you need to in order to get something done. One of my favorite examples of overproduction is “reinventing the wheel.”

It typically occurs when you are creating documents from a prior document that is like what you need, but you cannot find the document you are looking for. So, you start from a less-than-ideal document, or from scratch. Another example we regularly see is excessive CC’ing of emails. Some lawyers copy everyone, “just in case,” which results in an email chain that creates extra work for them. Doing more research than required, making too many copies of a document, double and triple checking something and maintaining electronic and paper files are other examples of overproduction.

How do you find overproduction? Well, once you start looking, it should become obvious. Identifying waste is all about changing the way you think about getting your work done. Start asking yourself if there is a better, more efficient way to accomplish the task at hand, and that will get your started on the path to finding and eliminating overproduction. Next up, WAITING.