Lean Tools for process improvement

 

Time Study Templates

Time Study Form, Time Study Worksheet, Time Study Observation Form

Use the correct

Process Observation form

You have the choice of four time study templates

Time Observations in the Standard Work template

Standard Work template

The most thorough tool for process analysis and improvement
is your Standard Work template (StdWork.xlsx)

which has options to allow you to enter times observed with either
a stopwatch, a hand-held device, or video observation

and you can analyze and improve what you have observed

Time Observation Worksheet

Time Observation template

Use your Time Observation Worksheet (TimeObservation.docx)
with a stop watch and a pencil
to (repeatedly) observe time for each Work Element performed by each Operator.

You will usually transfer the results of your time observations
into your Standard Work template to analyze and improve the process.

Process Observation worksheet

Process Observation template

Your Process Observation worksheet (Observations.xlsx)

is the right tool to observe longer processes,

doing two things at once:

  1. Observe time for each Work Element performed by each Operator
  2. Look for and reduce the 7 deadly types of waste

Cycle Time Observations

Cycle Time Observations worksheet

Use your Cycle Time Observations worksheet (ObservCycles.xlsx)
to observe and analyze (only) Cycle Times
without detailed analysis of Work Elements performed by each Operator.

 

This web page provides training for how to use each of these popular time study templates.


 

Contents of this page

 

 

 

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Bookmark = SW

Video: Time Observation
for Standard Work

Time Observation

using your Standard Work template

See the online training and videos for your Standard Work template

to learn how to enter time observations using either
a stopwatch, a hand-held devise, or a video camera

and to learn how to use your time observations to thoroughly
document, measure, analyze, improve, and control your process.


Bookmark = pencil

Time Observation Worksheet

When and why

Even today (in the age of smart phones and tablets),
pencil and paper time observations are usually the right choice most of the time.

When you have completed your gemba observations,

you will usually enter your times into another template
to analyze, improve, and control your process.

How to use your Time Observation worksheet

Time Observation Worksheet for short process

Train your observers

Everyone should know everything taught in the section for Process Observation Training.

Just being aware of these best practices is not good enough. Novice observers need to be paired with experienced mentors.

Refresh your memory

Every time that you plan to do a time observation,
review the Process Observation Training again
to refresh your memory.

It is especially important to be VERY clear in your understanding of the definition of a 'Work Element':

The smallest increment of work that COULD be handed off to another person.

Print it

This is a Word template, designed to be used as a printed form, filled in with pencil.

Go to the gemba

Process observation is always done at the place where the work is actually performed.

It is never acceptable to use old routings or other derived data. Go see.

Introduce yourself and explain what you're doing and why

Don't skip the courtesies. Use everything you refreshed your memory about
when you reviewed the Process Observation Training.

It is especially important to always explain that your focus is on the process — not the person.

Observe without the stopwatch

Start by identifying and listing the Work Elements — without timing them.
Just write down the Work Elements as you see them.

Tip: Leave blank rows, and don't number your sequence numbers yet.

It is VERY common to notice extra work elements after you get started.
You might re-write the Work Elements on a fresh sheet before you start timing.

Observe EVERYTHING that happens

including things that happen on different frequency cycles

(for example batch setup, inspection twice per shift, palletizing every third batch...)

Use the Notes column to write down the Frequency of things that don't happen every Run Cycle.

Also use Notes to define conditions for Work Elements that don't ALWAYS happen.

(Examples: Different products require different amounts of time. A step is not needed for some products...)

If one product is extremely different from the other products that are made in the same work center,
you might want to do a completely separate time study.

If relevant, sketch the layout diagram on a separate sheet of paper,
or use your Layout Diagram template, or the Layout sheet in your Standard Work template.

Talk with the worker

Ask the person performing the work if what you have observed looks right to him or her.

Allow time to listen. Even if your primary goal is to just observe times, it won't hurt anything to allow a little time to listen to what the worker has to say. Maybe even ask some questions.

Observe with the stopwatch

Let the person know that there shouldn't be any conversation or interruptions while observing times.

Observe the same process several times — ideally 10 times — all recorded on the same sheet.

Optionally use 2 stopwatches (or 1 plus your wrist-watch)

  1. One to record time for the work element that you're observing
  2. A 2nd to record the total cycle time (or perhaps use your wrist-watch with a second hand for this)

If you miss timing a Work Element during a cycle, just leave it blank, and be sure to observe it in the next cycle.

Observe machine time

Machine Time = The time that a machine runs — with no regard to whether or not the machine is attended.

Because machine time rarely varies, one observation of each machine is usually sufficient.

Review what you've written with the person doing the work

And allow a little more time to listen.

Assign sequence numbers

Wait until the very end to assign Sequence numbers.

(because it is not uncommon to observe new activities, or to re-consider the chunking of Work Elements)

Rows for 'Walk' and 'Wait' do not get a Sequence number.

Transcribe your data

The Time Observation Worksheet is only used to gather data.
To analyze, improve, and control a process, you need to enter your data into another template.

Most commonly, you will use your Standard Work template

Enter all of your data, and allow your template to automatically calculate
the median and mean average, as well as 2nd fastest repeatable time.

To enter times in the Yamazumi Chart, Functional Flowchart, or other forms,

you will first need to manually identify the 2nd lowest time for each Work Element


Bookmark = process

Process Observation Worksheet

When and why

Your Process Observation Worksheet is a great choice when you want to not only observe times,
but you also want to look for the 7 deadly types of waste.

It can be used stand-alone, or to gather data for your Standard Work template.

It is especially popular for office and administrative processes, or any process that is not highly repetitive.

How to use your Process Observation worksheet

Process Observation Worksheet

Train your observers

Everyone should know everything taught in the section for Process Observation Training.

Just being aware of these best practices is not good enough. Novice observers need to be paired with experienced mentors.

Refresh your memory

Every time that you plan to do a time observation,
review the Process Observation Training again
to refresh your memory.

It is especially important to be VERY clear in your understanding of the definition of a 'Work Element':

The smallest increment of work that COULD be handed off to another person.

Prepare your form

Either print this form,

(to be filled in with pencil)

or create a working document by copying your master template

and save it following your company's document storage and naming conventions.

On the DV sheet, you can optionally edit the dropdown list to supplement or replace
the standard 7 deadly types of waste with your own user-defined 'Types of Waste'.

Go to the gemba

Process observation is always done at the place where the work is actually performed.

It is never acceptable to use old routings or other derived data. Go see.

Engage the person doing the work

to help to identify things that get in their way — and to hear their ideas for how to make their work easier

  1. Make it clear that your (shared) goal is to improve the process — not to evaluate the person

    The goal is to analyze and improve systems that don't support them in doing their good work

  2. Before starting the observation, briefly show them the A3 Interview questions,
    and schedule a time for the A3 Interview

    This goes a long way toward putting the person at ease, and acknowledging him or her as the person who knows the most about this process, and puts the two of you "on the same side of the table" to work together to improve the process that you both care about

  3. Really listen to their ideas — and write them down.

    The most important end result of your process observation is to encourage the person doing the work to become actively engaged in helping to improve the process. Listening to them should not be viewed as "getting in the way of observing the process".

Observe the process

Let the person know that there shouldn't be any conversation or interruptions while observing times.

Time as you observe.

Observe EVERYTHING that happens

including things that happen on different frequency cycles

(for example batch setup, approvals on Tuesdays and Thursdays...)

Use the Notes column to write down the Frequency of things that don't happen every Run Cycle.

Add a line item for EVERYTHING that happens — even interruptions unrelated to the process.

Also use Notes to define conditions for Work Elements that don't ALWAYS happen.

(Examples: Different deliverable require different amounts of time. A step is not needed for some variations...)

If you observe the process more than once (which is usually recommended),

then record your observations on separate printed sheets.

If relevant, sketch the layout diagram

in the upper right corner of your Process Observeration template,
or on a separate sheet of paper, or use your Layout Diagram template.

Observe machine time

Machine Time = The time that a machine runs — with no regard to whether or not the machine is attended.

Because machine time rarely varies, one observation of each machine is usually sufficient.

Review what you've written with the person doing the work

to make sure that you got everything right,
and to give reassurance that your focus really is on the process — not the person.

Allow at least a few minutes to listen to their ideas right then — and be sure to write them down.

Confirm your scheduled time to complete the A3 Interview, sincerely thank them,
leave your contact info, and encourage them to contact you if any new thoughts come up.

Assign sequence numbers

Wait until the very end to assign Sequence numbers.

(because it is not uncommon to observe new activities, or to re-consider the chunking of Work Elements)

Rows for 'Walk' and 'Wait' do not get a Sequence number.

Analyze waste

Analyze Types of Waste right there on the Observation worksheet

using the drop-down list (that you can personalize on the DV sheet)
and/or simply type in that column.

Optionally transcribe your data

You might also optionally transcribe your data to another template
to analyze, improve, and control your process in various ways.

using your Yamazumi Chart, Functional Flowchart, or other forms.

Special instructons if transcribing to the Standard Work template:

To auto-calculate Time durations:

Enter the first Start Time in the 'Start Time' column.

Enter all subsequent Start Times in the 'End Time' column.

(because the End Time for one Work Element is the Start Time for the next)

Special instructions for process observation for Value Stream Mapping:

  • It is okay (and recommended) to record Process Time (Human Time)
    in bigger chunks than the classic definition of a Work Element.
  • You don't need to record Machine Time —
    so use that column to record Lead Time instead.

Personally follow up with the person doing the work

When the process is improved — personally follow up with the person doing the work

so that they can see the results and rewards of their inputs and efforts,
and so that you can gather feedback for even more ideas
for how the (now-improved) process can be improved even more.


Bookmark = CT

Cycle Time Observation Form

Cycle Time Observation worksheet

Your Cycle Time Observation worksheet is a special type of Run Chart

When to use your Cycle Time Observation worksheet

Use your Cycle Time Observations worksheet (ObservCycles.xlsx)

to observe and analyze process Cycle Times

(without detailed analysis of Work Elements performed by each operator)

to answer two questions:

  1. How long does it (usually) take to complete a full cycle of this process?
  2. How much variation?

How to use your Cycle Time Observation worksheet

Enter data in the header fields at the top of the page

Edit the 'Chart Title', 'Y Axis Title', and 'Revised Date' in the header fields at the top of the page

Each of these will automatically also appear in the chart itself

Edit 'Takt Time' and 'Target Cycle Time' for this process

Lean Glossary

In the 'Lowest' field, enter your desired number that will determine the Lowest Repeatable Time.

Example: Enter 2 for the second lowest observed time. 3 for the third lowest…

Don't accidentally overwrite the formulas in the calculated fields:

'Repeatable' = the nth lowest observed time

With nth being the number you entered in the 'Lowest' field

Usually the second lowest time.

'Variation' = "How much does this process vary?"

There are two numbers: 1) Above the Target Cycle Time, 2) Below the Target Cycle Time

Observe the process

You can either:

  1. Enter data directly into your laptop
  2. Collect data using a printed copy of this template on a clipboard

    and later enter your data into your computer
    to do the automatic calculations and chart

Observe one point in the process (usually the final step)

then each time that a finished deliverable passes through that operation,
make another entry on another row to record how long it took
since the last time that a finished deliverable passed through that same point in the process.

You can use Comments to record anything unusual that happened during that cycle,

or any other observations about the process,

but you are NOT timing the sub-steps... only the Cycle Time

"How often does a finished deliverable pass through your observation point?"

Chart Labels can be anything

Perhaps just sequential numbers.

Perhaps observation dates or times.

Clean up the chart

Hide Unused Rows

in the 'Chart Labels' section (below the chart)

Hide Unused Columns

in the 'Chart Data' section (which will hide those lines in the chart)

Publish results where stakeholders can easily find them

The most common place to publish your results

is on your Team Accountability Board or Lean Storyboard.

To publish your results, you can:

  1. Simply print as usual (CTRL+P) Copy Chart button

    which will print both the chart and the data

  2. Print only the chart sheet and header data

    by following the instructions for how to change the Print Area

  3. Select Systems2win menu > Copy Chart

    which will copy just the chart by itself to the clipboard,
    where you can then paste it into any other document

After your process has been improved

Once the process has gone through at least one cycle of continuous improvement...

1) Consider starting a fresh copy of a Cycle Time Observation worksheet

this time using dates in the Chart Labels column —
to establish a routine to make a regular weekly or monthly observation,
as part of your regular routine for doing a Standard Work Audit
to prevent backsliding or renegade "operator creativity".

2) Consider observing the process in a more detailed way

this time observing, measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling
the detailed Work Elements performed by the Operators

using one of the other time study templates described on this training page.


Bookmark = interview

Gemba Interview form

Purpose

To interview the person doing the work.

The objective of the interview is to encourage both the observer and the person doing the work
to focus their attention on how to improve this process:

Gemba Interview
  1. toward the realization of Lean Principles, Objectives, and Ideals
  2. through the systematic application of the 4 Rules of Use

When to use this template

Usually in a meeting scheduled shortly before or after process observation.

How to use this template

After completing process observations, schedule a time with the person that was observed, to:

  1. Review the results of the process observation - making sure everything is right.
  2. Ask the questions in your Gemba Interview template. (GembaInterview.xlsx or A3Interview.xlsx)

Hand write

In order to keep your interview as personal (and technology free) as possible…

You will usually print your Interview questionnaire, and then hand write the responses
using additional paper as needed.

Leave a gift

Print this training web page, refer to it in your interview, and leave it as a gift

Lean Principles, Objectives, Ideals, and 4 Rules in Use

Personalize

Personalize your gemba interview form to contain all of the questions and data that your team wants to gather.

And then consistently gather all of your data for every work area.


Bookmark = other

Other time study forms

Hand-held devices

In December 2015, the Standard Work template was re-designed

to make it easy to import observed times from any third-party software or device.

Simply export to Excel

(or CSV, or tab-delimited file, or any file type that Excel can read)

and then copy and paste your observed times into
your Standard Work or Yamazumi template.

Yamazumi Chart template

Yamazumi

Because a Yamazumi Chart is designed to be a short-lived disposable tool,
it is usually best to use one of the above Time Study methods,
and then copy and paste your observations to your Yamazumi template.

Value Stream Map

Value Stream Map

When you do value stream mapping,
the time observations that you enter from your gemba walk
are usually much less detailed than these more thorough Time Study templates,

but the Time Observation Tips are still very applicable.

Swim Lane Functional Flowchart

Functional Flowchart template

Time observations for a Swim Lane Functional Flowchart
might use one of the above Time Study Observation Forms,
or might be less thoroughly observed,
and entered directly into your flowchart.

Voice of the Customer

Refer to the instructions for the Voice of the Customer Data Collection template that comes with your Six Sigma tools.


Bookmark = tips

Process Observation Training

In addition to the template-specific training above,
the training in this section is relevant when using any of the time study templates.

Train your observers

Everyone should know everything taught on this training page.

Just being aware of these best practices is not good enough.
Novice observers need to be paired with experienced mentors.

Refresh your memory

Every time that you plan to do a time observation, review this Process Observation Training again.

 

It is especially important to be VERY clear in your understanding of...

the definition of a 'Work Element':

The smallest increment of work that COULD be handed off to another person.

 

Teach the definitions of time

Video: Process Time
and Cycle Time

When doing process observation, it is important for each observer to be familiar with
the very specific time definitions of Process Time and Cycle Time.

Watch this video >>>

Where

All time and process observations should happen at the gemba.

(the place where the work is actually done)

It is never okay to derive estimated times from old time studies,
routings, or standard operating procedures.

Go see.

If more than one person will be observing the process

then divvy up assignments.

For example: Interviewer, documenter, timer, issues and ideas recorder, photographer, existing documentation gatherers...

Introduce yourself and explain what you're doing and why

Once you start observing — discourage conversation

reminding them that there will be plenty of time for that during the interview process.

While observing, you want to be as unobtrusive as possible
so that you can observe how the work is done as if you're not there.

Observe

Using an erasable pencil, handwrite on a blank printed copy of the template...

Don't start with work standards, routing data, or previous time studies. Just observe what you see.

Be fully attentive. Observe everything. Especially things that happen unexpectedly.

Often, the biggest "aha" moments come from insights gained from the Notes section of your time study form.

Know the definition of a Work Element

Each Work Element is the "smallest increment of work that COULD be handed off to another person".

Example: "Get material and place on machine" might be a work element, while "get material" might not.

Observe in Work Element chunks

Breaking up your time observations into correctly-sized Work Elements
will become extremely important when you start to consider "what if" possibilities
to redistribute work between different numbers of workers (to meet different levels of customer demand).

Tip: Leave a few blank spaces, and don't number your sequence numbers until after the entire time observation process is completed. It is VERY common to notice extra work elements after you get started.

Interview the person doing the work

Gemba Interview

The person doing the work should be (and usually is)
the one person that knows the most about the intimate details of that process.

To get the most value from your process observation study...

in addition to observing the process with a stop watch,
also take the time to interview the person doing the work

using your A3 Gemba Interview form

Take some time to reflect on your observations


Bookmark = methods

Process Observation Methods

Traditional Process Observation

The most popular way to observe a process is to go to the gemba

either unannounced or schedule a time
with either 1 observer or a team

and use a stopwatch (or video camera) to time the process

and use your A3 Gemba Interview form (or similar) to interview the worker(s)

following the instructions in the section above

Waste Walk

Muda Observation template

A Waste Walk does not use a stop watch or a video camera.

There is no time observation.

The entire objective is to encourage people to look at a process with fresh perspective

and a keen eye looking out for the 7 Types of Waste,
using your Muda Observation template (ObserveMuda.xlsx)

Stand In a Circle

Another practice popularized by Toyota

is for a sensei to use chalk to draw a circle on the floor,
and then instruct the learner to stand in that circle for a specified amount of time (perhaps a half hour),
to silently observe everything that happens around them,
writing notes on a clipboard about types of wastes observed,
perhaps using your Muda Observation template (ObserveMuda.xlsx)

And then meet with the sensei to discuss what was observed, and ideas for improvement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Time Observation Worksheet in plastic

If you are observing a process over a long period of time, then one popular idea is to encase your time study worksheet in plastic, like this example from
StoreSMART.com

 

 


 

 

 

Lean Glossary

or we could use a shared
Lean Glossary...

 

 

 

 

 

medical manufacturing office

Improve ANY process
in ANY industry

 

 

 

 

 

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