The Story Behind Velocity Scheduling System

By Dr Lisa Lang

Dear Job Shop Owner,

I’m a lot like you. I read The Goal and loved it. I related to it, and thought it was common sense. It was so refreshing to read a business book like that.

I totally got the hike with the boy scouts and having Herbie lead, then off loading Herbie’s backpack. The game they played with matches showed the impact of variability and why it is so hard to get things done.

All really good stuff and I read it in one sitting. I wanted the results they had in The Goal – I wanted to be 100% on-time, I wanted less chaos and less work in process, increased throughput and I wanted all this with the same or less overhead.

But then I really didn’t know how to apply it to my situation. I didn’t have the budget to hire a consultant to help, much less an expensive Theory of Constraints consultant.

So I did what I could, based on what I understood. I identified what I thought was our constraint, and I studied it. I determined what was keeping us from getting more through the constraint. I made a few changes.

And, we got some results. Nothing like what they had in the book mind you, but some results. But that is where I really got stuck.

I knew much more was possible, much bigger and better results. After I had read The Goal, I did some research and found some published success stories. These case studies showed that I should have achieved more.

But I rationalized — we’re different. We are in a different industry, a tougher industry. Maybe it just doesn’t work in our type of business. Yeah, that’s it – too bad, it just won’t work for us.

Now fast forward a few years.

In the mid 90s Theory of Constraints became more available. There were annual conferences, training classes, and many more books on the subject.

I went to school on all of it.

I immersed myself in the theory. I read everything, I asked a ton of questions. And what’s interesting is that I still didn’t really know where to start. I still didn’t know how to get beyond a few modifications around the constraint and I still didn’t know how to get the kind of results I had read about.

And this was after I had been to the mountain. I had taken courses and studied at the Goldratt Avraham Institute founded by Eliyahu M Goldratt, the father of Theory of Constraints.

How can common sense be this hard?

I finally got it when I became a consultant and worked with several clients.

By the way, all my clients had read The Goal, and only achieved small results on their own or got no results because they simply did not know where to start and so had not tried.

One of my first clients was a machine shop. And since then I’ve worked with a number of custom machine shops and job shops. Some do a job only once, some do repeats and kanbans, some do repairs in shop or on site, some fabricate stuff for NASA and everything in between. But they all had terrible due date performance (on original dates), long lead-times, and lots of chaos.

I needed to figure out how to make a difference in these highly complex environments where the constraint can move week to week depending on the mix of work that came in.

I discovered, in working with these clients, the secret — the way to implement what we read in The Goal.

I figured out:

  • the order to implement. What to do first, then second and so on.
  • that the first steps we take need to provide BIG results to get the buy-in and support to continue.
  • that the scheduling and priority of the shop needs to be visual.
  • that the visual scheduling system facilitates everyone’s involvement and the desperately needed communication throughout the shop.
  • how to create an effective scheduling system that does not require massive computing and manpower to run.
  • how to accommodate a complex environment where the constraint moves frequently.
  • how to implement the Theory of Constraints process of on-going improvement so that we continuously improve.
  • and, how to coach managers and supervisors to get it done.

This approach lead to the big results that I had read about in the case studies and in most cases we achieved the results faster.

We also found that our visual scheduling system created faster buy-in and helped the changes to stick.

About this same time I started working with Dr Goldratt as his Global Marketing Director and realized that the struggles of jobs shops could be seen around the world. So my partner, Brad, and I sat down and documented what we did. We documented the process we used, we documented the differences between companies that can cause differences in the solution. We ended up with THE process to quickly implement what we read about in The Goal to get quick, substantial results.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well… this is something of an “open secret”… I have been working on a way for you to have the exact same system that my job shop and machine shop clients use without the burden and expense of an on-site consultant.

And we have now tested it with several clients and we have done many Velocity Scheduling System Coaching Programs. We only do a few Velocity Scheduling System Coaching Programs each year and each group is limited by the number of shops that can participate. This is to ensure that each highly custom job shop gets all the coaching they need to customize for their situation.

This system has PROVEN to dramatically increase your due date performance, reduce time through your shop and decrease your chaos without a consultant camped in your conference room. And of course, this will lead to improved cash flow and increase your profits!

Here’s an update I got April 15, 2009 from a client that participated in our 2nd VSS Coaching Program in Nov-Dec 2008:

“Just to update you on our company status, I thought you’d be happy to know we are still 100% on time and raking in some good profits. I’ve seen a higher frequency of penetration into the red zone, but no late jobs. We just shipped the mother of all jobs today (in excess of 4000 man-hours) on time! Furthermore, the price tag was $750K, of which final throughput MINUS LABOR was nearly $390K! (Don’t tell the customer that)”

We now have tons of testimonials like that (just click on the Testimonials and Case Studies link in the left pane). It’s amazing what can happen and what you can accomplish when your back is to the wall.

Wishing you success,

“Dr Lisa” Lang

P.S. If you have also struggled to improve your shop, you’re invited to explore this site. There are a couple free reports and a bunch of free videos and a free webinar. If after checking this stuff out, you’re up for REALLY improving your shop and want to find out if VSS will work for you, click on the Contact tab and sign up for a free Strategy Session to discuss YOUR shop. But whatever you do — take action. We’ve been where you are and there’s one thing we can tell you. You must do something differently to get different results.