The Path To Turnaround Time Improvement

We’ve all used John Ray’s adage, “Haste makes waste” to demonstrate that doing something too quickly causes mistakes and results in the waste of time, effort, and materials.   And we’ve all experienced situations where we were asked to “work faster” only to subsequently face quality problems.  

Similarly, many organizations who strive to eliminate waste often go about it the wrong way, making mistakes at the expense of Turnaround Time.  At Trindent Consulting, we specialize in helping your teams accelerate work while maintaining quality and reducing waste.

Be Little to Increase Speed

Turnaround Time is the amount of time it takes to complete a process or request.  It’s made up of Lead Time (the time between the initiation and completion of a process), Non-Value Time (time spent on a step in the process that adds nothing to the finished product), and Value-Added Time (time spent that improves the outcomes of a process), and has a direct impact on labor efficiency and cost.  

Companies frequently address slow Turnaround Times by focusing on the average completion rate of tasks through process automation or digitization, but then miss much bigger opportunities by forgetting to use Little’s Law to address issues with Lead Time.   

Little’s Law states that Lead Time equals the amount of Work-in-Process divided by Average Task Completion Rate.  The speed of any process is inversely proportional to the amount of Work-in-Process.  Therefore, identifying and eliminating unnecessary activity will inevitably improve Lead Time.  Decreasing Work-in-Progress increases speed and shortens Turnaround Time without needing to address average completion rate.  

Optimizing Turnaround Time: What’s Your Process Cycle Efficiency?

Often organizations don’t know if their Turnaround Time can be improved, or how to begin to tackle the issue.  They don’t have the tools or knowledge to measure Process Cycle Efficiency (PCE), which shows what percentage of Turnaround Time is waste.  Process Cycle Efficiency is calculated by dividing Value-Added Time by Total Lead Time.  Decreasing Lead Time increases speed and decreases process Turnaround Time.  

Measuring PCE allows companies to quantify the opportunity by process or workstream. A low PCE indicates opportunity to initiate improvement engagements.


Legendary UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden used to say, “Be quick but don’t hurry”, meaning do the activities that matter with speed but with accuracy.  

Speed doesn’t have to hurt quality and can provide a competitive advantage in service cost if you decrease Turnaround Time by focusing on the biggest part of processes using Little’s Law and Process Cycle Efficiency.