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Analyzing time? 5 things to remember

Okay, you’ve made an item, now how do you price it? That is a challenge that faces many craftpreneurs. Today I will go through a part of the pricing process. I know it’s not glamorous, but how would you realize that something is glamorous if EVERYTHING were glamorous?

The first time you ever make an item it can take much longer than it would if you had a lot of experience making it. After all, when you first make something you have to learn the process. Or think about how you are going to make it, or ... So, this post will cover five things you will need to consider when doing a time/cost analysis of an item you have made several times before.

First: Do you have the necessary equipment to make the item, and are you experienced with it? If you just got a brand new machine or doohicky to make your stuff, you may be a little slower at actually creating the item. If you think you are a little slower than you were, use the older pricing structure until you are more used to your machine or doohicky, then do the analysis.

Second: Decide what you are trying to measure. If you want to know how long it takes to sew one seam, it makes less sense to track the whole process. This is an exaggeration; I’m not sure if someone would measure time for just one seam. They would probably want to know how much time it takes for every seam sewn.

Third: Decide how you are going to track the time, and in what increments. You could track the time with a stopwatch, with a wall clock, with a plug in clock, an app on your phone, etc. A long time ago I bought an analog clock, complete with hands that stop when I pull the power plug. This gives me total elapsed time, as long as I have the clock plugged into power when I work.

I have a notebook where I write down what time the clock says at different points of the project. For example, I start I start each project with the hands in the 12:00 position. If I am sewing a simple apron, I might write “Cutting – 00:00 to 00:45”. That tells me that cutting out the item(s) took 45 minutes. I would also make a note to myself if I were cutting out more than one item at a time. After all, setting up two items at once will take less time overall.

Third and a half: Decide what you will do if you forget to plug in the clock, write down the time, or mess up your time keeping in some other way. It will happen. You don’t have to ask me how I know.

Fourth: Plugging a clock in and out, writing time on a paper, or in putting time into electronic media will take time. You have to decide how much time you want to lose in the process of finding out how much time it takes to do whatever. If you have been cranking out your product, doing this time analysis will slow your production rate.

In the same vein, if you are making 10 aprons of the same color, using the same thread, it makes more sense to me to break down how much time each seam takes than if you were to track each seam when sewing one product at a time.

Fifth: What do you plan on doing with the information? If you are just looking for how much time a new-ish product takes, your needs may be different than if you are trying to streamline a process. The new product may just need how much time it takes over all. The streamlining view may even require a seam-by-seam analysis, as well as comparing the “old” way of doing things to the “new” way.

So, we’ve talked about five (with a half) things to consider when doing a time/cost study. What else do you consider for your product / process?

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