Bottleneck: Slowing Down Business Processes, Tasks & Workflow

3 Min Read
Bottleneck: Slowing Down Business Processes, Tasks & Workflow

Bottleneck are points of congestion in any process that slow or delay the goal being achieved. Where people and tasks rely upon each other to keep the process flowing but are getting limited results.

Bottlenecks are generally one process in a chain of processes, which is causing the process to slow down or fail.

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What are bottlenecks in business?

Think about it in the same way as if a physical bottle where the neck limits how quickly fluid can freely flow through it. Named after the shape of a bottle as its the narrowest point.

In the instance of business, it’s restricting the flow of information, sales, products, and materials so slowing down the process or causing it to fail. All detrimental to both team morale, customer relations, poor quality products or services and most important lost revenue so the bottom line.

Every process has a bottleneck and focusing on continuous improvement can result in improved profitability.

Types of Bottlenecks

There are two main types:

Short-Term Bottlenecks: Temporary problems – Technical problem, the person on holiday, a new member of the team that needs training. Need to collaborate effectively.

Long-term Bottlenecks: Long term or regularly occurring- Substantial impacts on the overall business process.

Eliminating Bottlenecks

In order to remove the problem point, first, you need to identify them.

Eliminating the pain points within a process is key to “lean” and efficient processes.

Identifying and fixing these are vital to increasing performance. There are a number of methodologies and problem-solving tools you can use to try and locate the fail point.

  • Process Mapping: Map the business process
  • The 5 whys: Ask why this problem is occurring.
  • Flow Charts: Easy-to-understand diagrams that show how the workflow or process fit together.

Six Sigma Methodology can also help improve business processes.

Business Constraints History

Theory of constraints (TOC) – Total management philosophy by Israeli business management guru Eliyahu M. Goldratt in his 1984 book titled The Goal. Embracing a scientific approach to bottlenecks by identifying that there are multiple links in every process or task, that can act as a constraint upon the whole process and you need to locate the “weakest link in the chain”. The constraint is referred to as the bottleneck.

Wolfgang Mewes in German with Engpasskonzentrierte Strategie (Bottleneck-focused Strategy) a more advanced theory of bottlenecks.

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