There can be lots of things that can get in the way of delivering on time. Thankfully there are often many things that are in our control that we can do something about.

This article aims to prod your brain, so that some of these items come to the fore and allow you to improve.

Honesty about your losses

Let’s start with losses. No one’s working day is perfect. Neither will your main production / service processes be perfect. Getting some honest feedback, and data, about where and when you lose output is a good place to begin.

  • Do you know what is causing your losses?
  • Do you know what mistakes happen?
  • Do you know what is stopping the process from working ‘full tilt’ throughout the course of the day / shift?

If nothing is coming to mind, then gathering some information is key.

Ask your team to draw up a list of what is going on each time the process stutters or halts. If you can, assign a countermeasure to each loss so you know how to improve. Keep tracking what happens, to look for the improvement results coming through.

Seeing your obstacles

Some of your main issues might arise when you capture your losses. In other cases you might need to step back from the busy-ness to ask yourself the question:

“what things are in my way of having a perfect output?”

You might list items such as inter departmental issues, resourcing, systems and training.

What are the big things that get in you and your team’s way from doing the best they can?

List out these obstacles and what needs to happen so that the obstacles will disappear or shrink.

Declaring what’s ‘too hard’

This point is a tough one for most grown ups to embrace.

Admitting that something is hard is admitting weakness. But, some things are too hard, aren’t they?

Tasks that need herculean efforts to maintain them are likely to slip over time.

It might be that you, or your team, need some training. It might be that someone needs to look at your IT systems and give you some options to reduce the effort required.

This point isn’t about being lazy, but being honest about what is a slog. I am in favour of people and processes being both efficient and effective. If you can produce results from less energy, then I am a big supporter.

List out the items in your working day that are a grind. Figure out either what needs to change, or who you need to speak to for help.

on time delivery improvement

Agreeing what is too complex when delivering on time

If the number of steps, or the number of options is too many, mistakes can occur. If these mistakes lead to delays and missed delivery dates, they are a candidate for change. Simplification is key here. This aids the previous step of reducing the amount of work required too.

  • What is too complex within your business?
  • What has too many steps?
  • What has too many options?
  • What has too many ways you can get it wrong?

Find the convoluted process steps and shorten them!

If the number of steps, or the number of options is too many, mistakes can occur. If these mistakes lead to delays and missed delivery dates, they are a candidate for change. Simplification is key here. This aids the previous step of reducing the amount of work required too.

Find the convoluted process steps and shorten them!

If the issue isn’t around hard work, or complexity, then it might be confusing. There might be ambiguity around a procedure, or a lack of written information.

Demands might change throughout the day, instructions might appear from all directions. There may be a lack of structure or unclear deliverables.

Looking at what is going on and saying ‘stop!’ is a good plan in these situations. If the requirements are not crystal clear then you are making life harder for yourself and your team. Clarity is the friend of delivering on time.

Listing out the elements of your day, or your processes, that are confusing is a good starting place. Determining the actions that will remove the confusion is the next logical step.

Delivering on time – time to take action

If you have followed through on the actions outlined above you may well have a fair sized list. These opportunities will no doubt make your on time delivery results better. If you’re wise, they will make your working day easier too!

There is also a good chance that you see how much work there is ahead of you and feel a little overwhelmed. This is natural, so let me suggest two things you can do.

  1. Prioritise the list.

You can prioritise the list any way that you see fit. If you haven’t got a preferred approach, you can follow the same logic that we have in our Streamliner software. You can rank each improvement based on its:

  • potential benefit to the business
  • cost of implementation
  • speed of deployment


Start with the highest ranking improvement and work your way down the list.

2. Use Kaizen

Pretty much everyone has a hectic work life. Where do you find the time to work on these improvement priorities?

Using the Kaizen approach we can move our focus to the first small bite of the change. We can ignore the rest of the improvements for the time being, and reduce our feeling of overwhelm. Once we have tackled the first step we can then think about the second step.

It is normal for the steps to get bigger as you get into an improvement, but don’t worry if they don’t. You will still make progress with small steps.

I hope this article has given you some food for thought. Seeing your on time delivery challenges with clarity is essential. With clarity we can make proper, long lasting, changes.

If you want some further improvement options for delivering on time, check out the OTIF Improvement System.


Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance, ERP system performance and deploy Kaizen / Lean production methods. Giles is also the author of 'What Does Good Look Like?'.