How to Conduct a Bottleneck Analysis
by DJ Shirley | Updated Nov 4, 2021
Much like traffic jams, bottlenecks in your business are unavoidable and part of life (excluding 2020). Every organization has multiple bottlenecks at any given time. If you are growing, you have bottlenecks.
It's a natural part of expanding your scope and depth as an organization.
In the world of revenue operations (and Marketing Ops for that matter), the term bottleneck references an area within a system (i.e., a workflow, process, technology application) that is congested and impacting the system's overall performance.
A bottleneck can be caused by a technology application not working, a process or system that was not built correctly, or an existing process not being properly used.
The consequence of a bottleneck results in time delays and lower quality in the output generated, both of which result in expenses increasing.
The key to maintaining consistent growth is being able to identify and prioritize your bottlenecks. In the RevOps world, bottlenecks are prioritized by how they impact the customer lifecycle journey, which directly relates to how seamlessly new and recurring revenue moves through your business.
So where do you start? Begin with a bottleneck analysis.
How to Conduct A Bottleneck Analysis
A bottleneck analysis will help you understand what’s limiting your growth. To start, you need the following elements:
- An understanding of your current business situation and gaps, as well as your opportunities.
- An analysis of your business model and current metrics to know where your priorities lie. Start by reviewing your current conversion performance in each of these areas:
- Visitors to leads
- Leads to Qualifieds
- Qualifieds to Opportunities
- Opportunities to Customers
- Customers to Fans
Once you have your data in place and begin to analyze. You'll be able to identify your bottlenecks and outline the order you will want to address them.
- Identify the KPI(s) for each stage using industry and known business benchmarks.
- Implement measurement protocol (dashboard, manual entry where needed, etc).
- Review regularly, take a top-down approach (start reviewing your KPIs and metrics linked to your “Fans” and work your way down to “Visitors”), identify the stages that are underperforming.
- Start top down with the stage that’s underperforming — how far off is it? If it’s close, ensure that the People executing activities in this area are aware, then move to the next stage (again, working backward).
- If it’s not close, dig in here and investigate to find out why. Come up with a 90-day plan to fix/align people and/or activities, and/or implement new initiatives.
- Coach and guide the team through the process and optimization activities. Run regular meetings throughout the 90 days.
- At the end of the 90 days, postmortem with all stakeholders and start the process over.
We recommend a 90-day plan as the default timeline to address a given bottleneck but you can (and should) adjust your timeline based on your bandwidth, the urgency of the bottleneck and the commitments needs to properly work through the bottleneck. In certain cases you may be able to address a given bottleneck in a single day, a 30-day span or in other cases it may take a 180-day timeline.
The true value of a bottleneck analysis lies in your ability to prioritize which bottlenecks are going to have the greatest impact on your overall objectives and improve the flow of revenue through your organization.
As mentioned, the core elements needed to run an analysis are based around your conversion performance at each lifecycle stage in your buyer's journey. If you don't have clear, actionable data around your customer lifecycles, that is your first step.
You can access our free resource called the, Technical Lifecycle Journey Map. This asset will help you define and outline your lifecycle stages so you can begin to accurately track your conversion performance and take another step to streamlining your growth.