Survey on Disruptions to Assembly and Development Teams

When it comes to talking about efficiency, productivity or lean processes in assembly and development teams, disruptions form an important part of the discussion.

  • Can employees work effectively at their tasks?
  • Are work packages completed on time?
  • How can projects be completed more quickly?

When the answer to the first two questions is “no”, employees commonly cite disruptions as a reason. We wanted to investigate this in more detail, so between August and September 2014, we asked 30 assembly and development managers their opinions on the subject. What follows is a summary of the most important results.


How often do employees switch their focus from one project to another?

More than 40% of all assembly and development employees switch their area of focus at least once per day. Furthermore, 40% of all employees switch their focus from one project to another at least once during the week.


What Are the Causes of Disruptions?

In assembly, around 41% of all disruptions are caused by the temporary loss of employees to other departments. A further 25% occur when already-finished projects are required to be revised or adjusted. 17% of disruptions can be traced back to queries from other departments.

In development, around 36% of disruptions are caused by queries from other departments and 33% by the temporary loss of employees to other departments. When we consider the numerous interfaces between development departments and other areas of the company, this comes as no surprise. As with assembly, a quarter of disruptions to development departments occur when already-finished projects are required to be revised or adjusted.


Is the assignment of employees to tasks carried out by management or by the team as a whole? How are employees divided up?

In both departments, the allocation of employees to projects or tasks is a team process (>70%). Managers take sole responsibility for the allocation of employees in only 10% of assembly teams and 17% of development teams.

Tool support comes predominantly in the form of Excel tables, which are used to divide up more than half of cases. Only a fifth of managers questioned used software to plan capacity and manage the allocation of employees. A digital or analogue planning board was used by only 21% of development teams and 11% of assembly teams.


Challenges for Assembly and Development Managers

The survey also asked about challenges faced by managers in assembly and development departments. These can be categorized as follows:

  1. Disruption of employees through other departments/projects
  2. Frequently shifting priorities
  3. Employees’ knowledge and qualifications
  4. Time pressure for getting tasks done
  5. Project planning and requirements management

Within these results, answers such as “Multitasking is required of us by management” and “Increasingly urgent projects” are represented by category number 2.

Approaches to Solving Problems

The survey found that managers choose to address these challenges in a variety of ways. Here are the most commonly cited approaches:

  • Improvements in communication and better transparency in the allocation of employees to projects
  • “Interception” of disruptions through the separation of project-related activities and day-to-day business
  • Training of staff to provide fundamental skills and knowledge and to have such skills and knowledge better represented throughout the team

These were the results of the survey in brief. If you would like more information on the survey, please get in touch. For further information on focused work, please see this short introductory video or read about the allocation of assembly employees in a real-life use case.

We would like to thank all the respondents once more for their participation in their survey!

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