Service Based Businesses are just like Factory Production Lines

Last Updated: 

October 24, 2022

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A little idea for everyone to ponder on this awesome Tuesday afternoon.

Do you run a service based business?

If the answer is yes, now try and imagine that your business is like a production line.

Sales and marketing produces work into the factory.

Each project you undertake has a "bill of materials" - man hours, parts, components, machinery.

Each step of your delivery process has "work centres" where parts of your project are bolted onto one another.

Hopefully you're still with me...

Now, your production line only has a certain amount of capacity. And if sales and marketing over promise and push too much work through the production line, it is going to break down.

When it does break, i.e. a work centre fails...remember your service is like a production line...the entire production line stops until that problem is resolved.

Work in progress piles up, causing more problems and at this stage nothing is getting delivered.

One of the major causes for capacity to fluctuate is the clients' "change requests". You've now got to add another work centre into your production line.

Guess What?

Your production line halts whilst you install the new work centre into the production line.

All the work is being delivered. Or what is being delivered is of poor quality and sporadic because your production lines keeps failing.

Work starts to mount up!

Everything is being delayed.

Clients are unhappy.

Who runs the manufacturing floor??

You do.

The Solution

Plan your business like a production line, understand what your capacity to deliver is by reviewing your bill of materials for each of the projects you undertake versus how many people are in your business. Look at where their key skills are (i.e. these are your workcentres...not the people, but their skills).

Only allow work into the production line that you have the right workcentres for.

Have a process in place for change requests.

The Pixie Dust

Those of you who have read the Lean Startup by Eric Reis will understand this; at each work centre introduce a thorough testing process (called "unit testing").

A production line is designed to flow IN ONE DIRECTION only.

Therefore if you are only testing your deliverables at the end of the production line. You are screwed!! Why? Because when the clients comes back with big fixes and changes, and they will, the only direction that work can flow is...

Work Backwards

Yep, the wrong way through the production line, and you've guessed it, and new projects stop whilst you run this project back through the production line.

Introducing smaller unit tests at each work centre which, if you're a software business, these can be automated, will stop the work going backwards through the production line and keep things moving forward so that by the time your project pops out at the end...


Warm regards

Robin Waite

The Fearless Business Coach

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