Thank you for purchasing the Metrilogics Task Rate Calculator app for the iPhone and iPod touch. We hope you'll be able to take full advantage of its ability to quickly and easily quantify "what it takes" to perform any task—whether producing widgets at a factory, moving pallets of raw material in a warehouse, reconciling customer accounts in a financial services firm, or processing new customer applications at a bank or mortgage company. If a process task can be performed ANYWHERE, the Metrilogics Task Rate Calculator will tell you how many "units per hour" can be produced, and how many "minutes per unit" to plan for and manage to.
The purpose of this page is to provide you, our valued customer, with helpful information to ensure that you can derive meaningful performance management data in minutes (using the Task Rate Calculator) instead of hours, days or weeks (using other more time-consuming time study methods).
As we receive more customer feedback in the form of suggestions and common questions, these—and our responses—will be featured below in the complete list of "Frequently Asked Questions." In the meantime, please review the short list of questions and answers that we've compiled to date, based on preliminary market study input. Hopefully, this information will help get you started using the Metrilogics Task Rate Calculator app.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please send them to email@example.com We will make every attempt to respond within 48 hours to customer emails received. If we can't provide a detailed response, we will direct you back to this page, where your question may already be answered as we update the "Frequently Asked Questions" section.
Also, please be sure to post your comments, suggestions and product ratings of the Task Rate Calculator at the Apple iTunes App Store site where you purchased the app.
Is there an instruction manual for the Task Rate Calculator app?
There is no manual per se. Instead, we have provided instructional information and operational definitions within the Task Rate Calculator app itself. If you have any questions, just touch any data field's ( i ) button to go straight to information that will answer your questions. You can also return to this web page for additional information, which will be updated as we receive customer feedback.
The Task Rate Calculator gives the derived Performance Standard in terms of a capacity rate. Explain the difference between an hourly task rate based on capacity vs. a quota-based hourly rate.
An hourly capacity rate is defined as the maximum rate of quality output that a process is capable of generating per hour. An hourly quota rate—on the other hand—is generally defined as a minimum acceptable rate of quality output per hour, or a level of quality production output based on an average of how a team generally performs.
The purpose of a capacity rate is to define what's possible, and ensure that managers and frontline team members continually "aim high" to maximize quality, productivity and efficiency, while keeping costs under control. If performance against the capacity rate begins to falter over time, this shift will become obvious, and management can work with frontline team member resources to identify root cause problems and minimize or eliminate them so that operational performance can rise back to the higher capacity level.
Use of (typically lower) quota rates has the effect of masking problems, resulting in higher unnecessary operating costs, since there's no built-in "alarm" to highlight that there's a problem in the process that needs to be fixed. Quota rates also tend to shift over time, despite the fact that a given process has not fundamentally changed. When team average output drops, managers often drop the quota rate expectation, too. As less and less quality task work is produced, this creates the illusion that more resource hours are needed to meet production volume demands, and that more operational dollars need to be spent.
Put simply, hourly quota rates "wander", but hourly capacity rate standards do—indeed - "stand." The only time a new hourly capacity rate should be established for a given process is if a genuine process change occurs, and a new capacity rate is warranted. By remaining as a stake in the ground against which performance is consistently measured, hourly capacity rates help an organization to offer top customer service without incurring ever-increasing production costs.
Explain why the "Units of Measure" field is so important.
When establishing a capacity task rate, it's important to know in advance what units are being counted and measured against the rate. Consider the following scenarios:
A factory setting: An assembly line produces small boxes of product which are later packed in larger cases, 12 boxes per 1 case. If a capacity task rate is established for the process that determines that 600 units can be completed per hour, does that mean that:
An insurance company: An analyst reconciles customer policy errors, which appear on a daily report, containing 25 customer "error" policies per report page. Usually there are 3 line item entry errors per reconciled policy. If a capacity task rate is established that determines 12 units can be completed per hour, does that mean that:
As you can see, any confusion over a unit of measure—either when the task rate is established or later, when counts of completed work are reported—can make a HUGE difference when performance is measured against a given task's hourly rate.
When working with a process or task subject matter expert (SME) to derive a capacity task rate, how do I ensure that they're providing the correct minimum and maximum number of minutes for a task, and that they're indicating the correct percentages of work volumes within the 5 time range quintiles?
First, make sure you're working with a true task SME, not just one of many average team members who perform a given task.
Second, make sure the SME understands that they've been selected to help derive the capacity task rate data because of their expertise and their ability to consistently provide high levels of quality production output relative to the task in question.
Third, clarify with the SME that the task rate you're trying to derive involves the work time only involved in completing a given task. For example, if 5 minutes is spent partially processing a task on Work Day #1, then there's a 2 day waiting period before proceeding, then there's another 10 minutes of work to complete the task on Work Day #2, the capacity task rate would be derived using the 15 minutes of actual work time, NOT the 4 days of overall cycle time.
Finally, make sure that the SME understands that you're looking for them to provide THEIR minimum and maximum "minutes per unit" estimates, NOT how much time it takes other less-experienced team members to complete the same tasks. Remember: an hourly capacity task rate (particularly for processes NOT dictated by the speed or capability of automated equipment) is based on the average hourly quality output of a well-trained, motivated and conscientious team member. All other team members who may not be as proficient at performing the task will be measured against this standard capacity task rate, and their performance will likely fall somewhere below 100% (e.g., 90% of the capacity rate, 72% of the capacity, 65% of capacity, etc.)
By covering these four main bases, the SME should be expected to provide the required data, and do so in an honest and above-board manner, consistent with the reason they were selected to help with the capacity task rate derivation process in the first place.
Do capacity task rates derived via the Task Rate Calculator app replace the need for more-involved and detailed time studies?
The short answer is, "No." Time studies (based on detailed first-hand process observation, documentation and analysis of a statistically representative sample of task work) provide more-definitive and better-supported capacity task rates for a given task than will a derived rate. Still, the Task Rate Calculator will generate capacity task rates that are generally accurate to within about 95% of a more-detailed time study, and deriving a capacity task using the Task Rate Calculator is twenty times faster than performing an extended time study.
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