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A little background: I work for a large corporation and was tasked to perform a process improvement study on an often overlooked department. This department gets little attention and performs mostly business processes. They are, however, very consistent and repeatable. I mapped out their process and delegation of tasks, gathered readily available data on occurances of these tasks, and performed time studies on the tasks as well as incorporating down-time in my model.

The buildup: The findings of my study show that one group within this department is grossly under-utilized (~40% utilization including downtime). I brought this up to the manager and they dismiss it and said that their workers perform other tasks outside the scope of my study. When I asked for a list of other duties they may perform, they were unable to come up with any and suggested that interruptions play a large part and tout the fact that these employees are consistently working overtime. So I re-studied their interruptions and came to the same conclusion I did before, I even was very conservative in my estimates and they still seem very under-utilized. It seems that their workload is very reactionary in the sense that they do not have a backlog, they cannot work ahead, and they work things as they arise. During my studies I often had to leave after an hour or two because they would run out of things to work on. I also had my colleagues pay attention and they observed excessive idle-time as well.

The problem: I have to report out on this to the manager, their manager, and upper management. My concern is that even though I have done my due-diligence, since the manager is the SME my study will lack credibility if they begin disagreeing with me.

The question: What path is there to minimize the conflict with this manager and retain my credibility in the face of this disagreement? I do not want to openly disagree with the manager if at all possible, but I do not see any way around it.

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    Not knowing the nature of the work - it may be that the team's availability and response time is more important than their utilisation. – HorusKol Aug 1 '17 at 23:41
  • Seems like that department may be made up of "firefighters"... those guys that deal with the unexpected crisis and tough/complicated projects. In some tasks, like R&I and data science, the "goal" of the project is not so clearly defined as in other departments... are you considering that aspect? – DarkCygnus Aug 1 '17 at 23:49
  • @GrayCygnus They deal with onboarding in HR. They are reactionary since they wait on tests from 3rd parties before further processing. I apologize for not specifying. – Acumen Simulator Aug 1 '17 at 23:54
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The question: What path is there to minimize the conflict with this manager and retain my credibility in the face of this disagreement? I do not want to openly disagree with the manager if at all possible, but I do not see any way around it.

You simply report the facts, and let the chips fall where they may.

Include all the observations, and the managers' responses as well.

While folks can disagree with an interpretation, you can let the facts speak for themselves. This should never hurt your credibility. If anything, it will make you appear more credible if you are willing to report the facts as you see them while knowing that the manager will not be pleased.

This sort of disagreement is not at all unusual for process improvement studies. People don't like to be viewed in a less-than-optimal light. People tend not to like change, and this report may be the impetus for some change. So it goes.

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