Reducing throughput time in a service organisation by introducing cross-functional teams
Journal article, 2012
The purpose of this article is to investigate throughput time benefits when implementing cross-functional teams in a service organisation. The cross-functional teams, consisting of key human resources, are similarly designed to work cells within Cellular Manufacturing. Cellular manufacturing is an approach within manufacturing to achieve production flexibility and to shorten throughput time. This paper reports the results from implementing the cellular manufacturing principle at a Swedish emergency department, aiming at decreasing patient throughput time and time-to-doctor. The main approach was to introduce a team-based organisation, also involving some elimination of process steps. The quantitative evaluation of patient data shows significant reduction in mean values of up to about 40 minutes for some patient groups, combined with an increased portion of the doctors’ time together with the patients. The qualitative evaluation of the study show enhanced teamwork and communication, and also improved visibility and understanding of the work tasks of other team members.