Getting our flow back by reducing or eliminating waste!


By Ann Marie Gloutney

I know, the word ‘Waste’ sound nasty. It immediately makes me think of Monday mornings in the middle of January when it’s -30C and I have to haul the town-approved garbage bin to the end of the driveway before the snow plough gets there! But then I remember how happy I feel when the bin is EMPTY! When it’s full, it’s hard for the bin to do its job. Get rid of the waste. Save the world.

In an earlier blog ‘Getting our flow back to drive efficiency’ I discussed how non-standard work can block the “flow” in a work-flow. When I am working with my clients to build workflows, we also look for instances of ‘waste’ and then figure out WHY they are happening! Only then can we see if they can be reduced, or even, erased…from existence!

We call these the Seven Deadly Wastes of Insurance:

1- Waiting

Waiting for information…waiting for approval… I once had a client explain to me how she had to wait for the fax confirmation page to print. Hey, the ‘90’s are calling and they want their fax machine back! But why do we have to wait? Let’s find more efficient ways of getting from point A to point B without WAITING!

2- Overprocessing

Or what I like to call the Department of Redundancy Department. And why do we need so checkpoints and duplication of the same information? Is it that we’ve always done it that way? Just in case?

3- Errors

These are the ‘office’ equivalent to product defects. We have to figure out what is causing the error so we can stop it from happening. It could be us (the humans). We do things too quickly, aren’t trained properly, don’t ask the right questions. It could also be….our computers! I am not talking Skynet here; I’m thinking good old-fashioned download/data transfer/output generating processes. Except they don’t work as well as we hope.

4- Complexity

Why is everything so complicated? Why are there so many choices? I’ve seen offices where there were at least 20 different Residential Renewal letters. I’ve also seen offices with 1 letter. Does your client even read those letters? And don’t even get me started on passwords. What ever happened to KISS (keep it simple stupid)?

5- Motion

“Yes, Annie, we are a paper-free office. Now excuse me while I go to the printer, bump into someone in the hallway who asks me a question, stop for a coffee, now I am back 15 minutes later, oh no, I forgot my printout in the cafeteria…hold on, why am I even printing? I thought we were ‘paper-free’…?”

6- Transportation/flow of data or files

‘Have you seen the file? I have to get it to Patsy who then has to key the information that I just wrote down into our rating tool, push it into the BMS, then upload the data to the carrier portal where it gets pushed into another system that prints it. I think.” Maybe Skynet ate my file.

7- Underutilization of people

I call this the old ‘I will just do it myself because no one else can do it properly or fast enough or they’ll just ask me tons of questions and still get it wrong’ waste. Are your employees really optimizing their energy and skill by doing work that does NOT add value to the customer?

In all seriousness, if you look through your day-to-day processes you will find evidence that these wastes exist and they are slowing you down. Get rid of the waste (or reduce it as much as you can) and you will be more efficient.

When you save 30 minutes a day you actually gain 23 days a year in productivity.

Do I have your attention now? I guess reading this blog wasn’t a waste of time!

Have a look at this chart and see for yourself how much time your team could save. For a copy of this tool please feel free to contact us at [email protected]



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