What Is a Bottleneck in Operations Management?

A bottleneck in business operations refers to the slowest aspect of operations, which causes all other aspects of business operations to slow down in the event of a work overload. Bottlenecks lead to inefficiency in business operations.

A bottleneck refers to any point in business operations and services that slows down the entire process when the workload is increased. During a production surplus, the bottleneck causes backlogs in other parts of a business’s operations as well, which may make it difficult to pinpoint the actual bottleneck.

There are several ways to increase the speed and capacity of a bottleneck in operations. Adding resources to perform operations increases the production of the bottleneck resource. For example, assign extra employees to work on the bottleneck process whenever possible. The bottleneck resource should always stay working to prevent future backlogs. Ensure that the bottleneck service or operation is always producing quality goods and services to avoid spending unnecessary time repeating processes. Create and manage a production schedule that allows the bottleneck to work at maximum efficiency. Increase the time that the bottleneck portion of a business is kept in production. Look for ways to improve the efficiency of the bottleneck operation, such as eliminating activities that do not provide value to the overall production process. If possible, reassign a portion of the bottleneck’s responsibilities to other resources in the operations process.