You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Jump Start Your Business With This 5-Step Tool Utilizing cycle-time reduction can hit the trifecta of improvements.

By Doug and Polly White

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you want to jump start your business, we have a tool that can help. It is called cycle-time reduction.

Related: 6 Surefire Ways to Prepare Your Business for Growth This Year

Making improvements in cost, quality and timeliness all at once is like hitting the trifecta in business. It may seem improbable that you could accomplish them all, but you can. Cycle-time-reduction programs can work in almost any business. If you follow the five simple steps below, you can save time, money and improve the quality of your product or service.

1. Document processes

The first step in cycle-time reduction is to document your processes. It isn't sexy and many entrepreneurs resist this step, but without writing down how you currently do things, it is difficult to identify opportunities to improve.

2. Eliminate unnecessary steps

After documenting processes, examine them to see how you can rework or eliminate portions of your process. For example, one company we worked with had a quality-control step in the middle of a process. However, inspectors almost never found instances of poor quality at that point. Eliminating this QC step saved time, and reduced cost without hurting quality.

3. Reduce wait time

The largest contributor to speeding up processes comes from greatly reducing waiting time. Whether it is product working its way through a factory or paperwork moving through a back office, things being processed tend to spend a lot of time waiting. Wait time adds no value and should be squeezed out.

Related: 5 Core Lessons for Expanding Your Growing Company

4. Process in parallel

You may find that processes that have historically been done one after the other (in series) can be done at the same time (in parallel). This saves time. For example, pit crews have found that instead of changing tires in series, they can change multiple tires at once.

5. Automate

Automating selected steps in a process can reduce time and cost while improving quality. In some cases, you can design special tools to make the process quicker. Alternatively, dedicated tools can make the job faster. For example, a company that operates injection-molding machines found that they could change the molds more quickly if the needed wrenches were stored on the same pallet with the molds. This saved the mechanic from having to rummage through his toolbox to find the right wrench, which a coworker had all too often borrowed.

There are many benefits of reducing cycle time. The most obvious benefit is quicker turnaround and shorter lead times. Perhaps more importantly, you can improve quality. Cycle-time reduction almost always results in simplified processes with fewer steps. In most cases, a process that has fewer steps will yield fewer mistakes. Simpler processes produce fewer errors.

In the same way, you can reduce cost. Simpler processes with fewer steps cost less. You can also reduce waste. Better quality means less scrap and rework. Further, shorter lead times also result in the need to hold less inventory (both work in process and finished goods). This means that obsolescence is reduced.

Cycle-time reduction can enable your company to hit the trifecta: improve quality, lower cost and reduce time. The good news is that almost every company is a good candidate for cycle-time reduction.

Related: 5 Strategies to Kick Start This Year's Goals

Doug and Polly White

Entrepreneurs, Small Business Experts, Consultants, Speakers

Doug and Polly White are small business experts, speakers and consultants who work with entrepreneurs through Whitestone Partners. They are also co-authors of the book Let Go to GROW, which focuses on growing your business.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

I Designed My Dream Home For Free With an AI Architect — Here's How It Works

The AI architect, Vitruvius, created three designs in minutes, complete with floor plans and pictures of the inside and outside of the house.

Business News

This Fan-Favorite Masters 2024 Item Is Still $1.50 as Tournament Menu Appears Unscathed by Inflation

The pimento cheese sandwich is a tradition almost as big as the tournament itself.

Business Ideas

7 Link-Building Tactics You Need to Know to Skyrocket Your Website's Rankings

An essential component of SEO, link building is not just a 'Set them and forget them' proposition, but a dance of skills and strategies.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Here's One Thing Americans Would Take a Pay Cut For — Besides Remote Work

An Empower survey found a high percentage of respondents would take a pay cut for better retirement benefits and remote work options.