DEFINITION of 'Throughput'

In business, the rate at which an organization reaches a given goal. Throughput is generally viewed as the rate a business is able to produce a product or service for a given unit of time. Businesses with high throughput (output) levels are able to be more competitive than lower throughput firms because they are able to produce a given product or service more efficiently.

BREAKING DOWN 'Throughput'

The idea of throughput is part of the Theory of Constraints of business management. The guiding ideology of the Theory of Constraints is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Advocates of the theory attempt to minimize how weak links affect a company's performance. Additionally, firms will often measure throughput using Little's Law, which states throughput is equal to units produced divided by time.

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