Time and money being wasted

How Much Waste is Occurring in Your Business?

Wasteful activities take place in every business, here’s the 8 types of waste we teach our clients to look out for so they can save time and money.


Transport is about moving things from A to B. This uses time and resources so you should try to minimise it wherever possible or cut it out altogether. You could try to move things closer together so there’s less distance to travel and time will be saved. In a digital workspace you send files by email, that’s transport! Wouldn’t it be better to work from a shared document? This will save time too but also means you won’t have multiple versions of the same file!


Having too much physical inventory is a waste as it ties up cash flow and takes more effort to manage. In digital terms inventory can be a backlog of information waiting to be processed, such as emails in your inbox or work to be done, both of which can result in people feeling overburdened. Back in the physical world, too much inventory happens when you produce more products than are needed, which then accumulate in storage. For example, excess raw materials or finished goods. This also means that defects in products might take longer to be detected or goods might become obsolete before they can be sold. This could result in more products being produced to correct the problem, and more time being spent on the manufacturing process as well as unnecessary storage and logistic costs. Soon we will be sharing how you can reduce inventory using a “just-in-time” approach.


Motion sounds similar to Transport but the difference is that motion is about repetitive movement rather than moving things from A to B. For example searching for an email in a cluttered inbox takes time as you have to scroll through the list until you find what you are looking for. Scrolling is motion!

In the physical sense we can use the example of stacking a shelf. If you have a box on the floor and need to fill a high shelf, you bend down to the floor and reach back up to the shelf. There is a lot of movement here which adds additional time and could potentially wear out your back. Why not put the box on a table or trolly to reduce the motion?. Likewise searching for equipment on a cluttered desk, files in a pile of paper or products in an unorganised storeroom all generate the waste of Motion.


This one is fairly self explanatory, we’ve all had to work with slow software that kept us waiting while the hourglass on the screen filled up, or experienced waiting on hold to be served by technical support. Time costs money and unproductive time is a waste! Here are some more examples, production machinery left idle while a changeover is taking place, people waiting for others to respond to communication before a task can begin, waiting for the next step in any process.


Over- processing occurs when we add too many steps in a process. I have experienced this working in a global technology firm, when I would request time off it had to be approved by my manager, their manager, our site manager and the UK and Ireland Chief Financial Officer! All of those approvals are definitely not adding any value for the business. Again time is money. Other examples include duplication of work and believe it or not quality checks! We should be aiming to mistake-proof our work so quality checks are no longer required.


This happens when you produce or deliver more than the customer has asked for or too far in advance. Work produced too far in advance often needs to be redone. It can also be linked to all the other types of waste as it will create inventory which results in transport and motion, which in turn are unnecessary steps also known as Over-processing and because of this other work will likely have to wait. You’ll often find that Overproduction often happens because we need some kind of buffer, normally as a result of defects or insufficient skills.


Defects are another simple one. Any time something isn’t done right the first time, doesn’t meet the customer’s requirements, has to be scrapped or re-worked in any way it’s definitely a defect. Some examples include, pricing errors, data entry errors, not following a process or delivering a service which does not meet the customer’s needs.


The waste of Skills is about underutilized knowledge or capabilities that could otherwise benefit the business. Employees with underutilized skills often have poor motivation and reduced performance. Another thing to look out for here is misdirecting skills and knowledge to the wrong areas. An example of this is asking an IT specialist to change a tap.

Something to think about

Can you identify some or all of these types of waste in your business?

If you answered yes, try our free newsletter. We share regular tips and insights which help business leaders just like you save time, money and effort. can you afford not to improve your business?

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