Full time equivalent(s), commonly referred to as FTE(s), represents the number of equivalent employees working full time. One full time equivalent is equivalent to one employee working full time. Typically, FTEs are measured to one or two decimal points. FTEs are NOT people. Rather, FTEs are a ratio of worked time, within a specific scope, like a department, and the number of working hours during a given period of time. As such, an FTE often does not equate to the number of employees actually on staff.

Flow is a key lean principle. We should relentlessly pursue a state in which value flows smoothly, without interruption to the customer. But how can this be achieved? Assuming that we have adequate system stability, repeatability, and other important "ilities," as well as a design and culture that facilitates continuous flow (admittedly, really difficult stuff), the answer is amazingly simple – match capacity to demand. So, if you have 10 customer requests your capacity should be 10 customer requests, and if the demand is 1,172 customer requests the capacity should be 1,172 requests.

Plan-Do-Check-Act is the key learning cycle that is at the foundation of lean thinking. But how do you make a good plan, and more specifically, how do you estimate how long the tasks in the plan will take?

If you have historical data, or you can accurately estimate the work content, the task of estimating task duration is very straightforward. But if you are doing something you have never done before, estimating the task duration can be very challenging.

The process capacity sheet, also known as a table of production capacity by process or production capacity chart or process capacity table, is one of the three basic tools for establishing a standard operation. The other tools are the standard work combination sheet and standard work sheet. All three standard operations sheets are populated with data obtained through direct observation (as is the time observation form).

Work Content

Work content (Wc) represents total operator cycle time or, if multiple operators, the sum of operator cycle times to perform a specific process(es) or sub-process(es). The scope of human work, including both value-added and non value–added activities, may encompass a complete value stream or only a portion of it. For example, the lean practitioner may speak of the work content to check-in and room a patient, assemble a sensor module or process a claim.

The seminal book on lean, The Machine that Changed the World, spent many words, tables, and figures on the subject of productivity (as well as, of course, quality).


Productivity is one of the critical few measures that reflect the “leanness” of a process, value stream or enterprise. It captures how effectively an organization uses its resources, and it’s usually a meaningful way to compare performance over time and between entities.


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