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Lean Office Waste #1: Redundant Input and Output of Data

13 Jun Lean Office Waste #1: Redundant Input and Output of Data

No matter which office environment and industry I have encountered, this type of waste is always prevalent and always a source of massive inefficiencies.  Redundant input and output of data occurs when the same data is entered or reported more than once without adding any customer value.

There is at least one place where we have all experienced this: The doctor’s office.  Every time we see a doctor for the first time, we are asked to fill out new patient forms.  Do you ever notice that an overwhelming amount of information you are filling in is duplicated across forms.  Who does that benefit?  Certainly not you, the customer!  The same applies your son or daughter’s school enrollment and other forms or information given during a call to a credit card company.

Although both these examples are the customer’s perspective, it doesn’t have to be.  This waste is prevalent within work processes, especially during handoffs from one party (or team) to another.  Furthermore, it may also occur electronically.  Redundant data entry will create more opportunities for error and creates work that shouldn’t need to be done. 

In addition to inputs, redundant outputs of data are just as bad.  One widespread example of this is creating the same report in different formats for different internal customers.  I once worked with a global organization that had 12 particular VPs receiving the same report but with the colors and formats varying according to each’s specifications, which frequently changed.  When we compared them, more than 95% of the information was the same.  However, the cost of supporting the formats was enormous.   To boot, most of the report past the first page was ignored.

This waste is deceptively hurtful and needs to be stomped out little-by-little.  The next time you are at work, look for these and suggest changes.  You will be amazed at even how much more efficient things are when removing even the smallest duplications.

What examples of redundant or duplicate inputs and/or outputs have you experienced?  Please share them with us through the comments.  We would love to know.

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