WIP Tracking: Best Practices for Managing Work in Progress

WIP Tracking

WIP Tracking: Best Practices for Managing Work in Progress

Managing work in progress (WIP) efficiently is critical for streamlining your production process to make your business more competitive and profitable.  

Simply put, WIP is a term used to describe items that started the production process but have not yet been finished. A high WIP shows inefficiency in the production cycle, leading to higher costs and restrained cash flow. Keeping WIP lower ensures smoother workflow, greater liquidity and, ultimately, higher profits.  

Here are a few best practices to properly manage work in progress for production efficiency. 

Adopt Just-in-Time Manufacturing  

One of the best ways to track WIP is by adopting just-in-time manufacturing. It’s a method that ensures that the production process only starts after customer order placement.  

The main purpose of JIT is to ensure that no excess work in progress is lingering across your production lines. Instead, raw materials are responsibly sourced and turned into final goods if and when there’s direct demand from the market. For instance, a bakery with JIT in place will only prepare fresh bread when customers place an order to eliminate waste and surplus in inventory. 

Apply Value Stream Mapping  

A value stream map is a technique to describe an organisation’s process while ensuring clarity and uncovering waste. It identifies the work sequence, content, and time required for each item between start and stop points. 

As such, it helps identify waste and areas of improvement in the current process while shedding light on potential bottlenecks. A bottleneck slows the work process and requires the team to work overtime or compromise on other essential tasks.  

Knowing about these bottlenecks beforehand allows you to develop an effective plan to address them promptly, reducing the WIP time and maximising output.  

Upgrade Machinery and Personnel  

Upgrading machinery and personnel are some of the best ways to manage WIP.  

By developing comprehensive training sessions on how to perform tasks, you can help your workforce master their trade, minimising WIP. Alternatively, employers can offer learning courses that develop industry skills to boost the workforce’s productivity and the work process’s efficiency.  

While it’s essential to have skilful and trained employees, they’re only as efficient as their tools support them to be. So, invest in robust machinery and tools to process work more efficiently and support the workforce to accomplish their task quickly.  

In particular, a work in progress tracking software helps monitor time spent on tasks and track progress with others in real-time. This way, you can spot delays before they happen and make informed decisions to improve production lines and sales.   

Focus on Work Batching  

Work batching is a productivity method that involves grouping similar tasks and setting aside time to complete them. This way, one can complete various tasks at once without wasting time shifting their focus. It’s beneficial because when work is initiated on more items that can be completed within the desired cycle, work slows down while waiting on people or parts. These delays increase WIP and affect all areas of business.  

Smaller batches move along the production line faster and with less variability, reducing WIP and leading to on-time product delivery.  

Summing Up  

The ultimate purpose behind all these practices is to manage WIP efficiently, avoid excess inventory, and optimise processes for better outcomes and timely delivery. Bringing work in progress tracking software aboard is one of the most effective ways to handle WIP and get ahead at work.  

If you’re interested, check out Quinta’s work in progress solutions to avoid work in progress and secure quicker turnover.  

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