One thing governs our methods: we do what works. We aren’t purists who stick to one – and only one – of the many useful methods in use out there. We’re trained and experienced in a range of process improvement methods (see here) and we pick and choose what suits.
We aim to understand things from the ground up by building a big picture from a lot of small pictures. It means our recommendations are data-driven and we don’t make assumptions about what you or your team do.
End-to-end Service Flow versus Activity Efficiency
Ideally we like to look at the flow of the service you’re providing from end-to-end. That allows us to help you eliminate all work that isn’t focused on delivering the service. Often a lot of work is due to process failure, and that work disappears when you fix the process upfront.
But we understand that looking at a full service flow isn’t always possible for budgetary, agency or political reasons. So we can still focus on particular groups of activities and work out how to make them more efficient and effective.
For both approaches the broad methods are the same.
- Get an exceptional brief
- Build an activity list
- Gather key data
- Map significant processes
- Analyse and identify opportunities
- Consult and liaise
- Support supervisors
- Build action plans
Get an exceptional brief
We work hard to get clear objectives for any project, fully informed of organisational and political issues, with clear criteria for success, and a good understanding of stakeholder interests.
Build an activity list
We know that most jobs have a lot of small, time consuming tasks to get done: the forms, the unreturned phone calls, the boxes that have to be ticked or else.
Our approach is to begin at those small things.
We interview the people who do the actual work and get a comprehensive list of all of those small tasks. We have cleverly dubbed this an activity list.
The list of activities takes into account all of the small things we do every day as well as the monthly, quarterly and yearly tasks which can be quite big (auditing, records destruction, budgets and reporting).
For each activity we get an estimate of how long it takes and how often it’s done. We verify volumes where we can with corporate records and IT systems to ensure we’ve got everything. We deflate any puffed up numbers, find benchmarks and best practice, and use our expertise to confirm time estimates from several directions at once.
From that list then everything can spring.
Gather other key data
The activity list is the basis. But other data such as key volumes recorded in systems, corporate surveys, prior reports, meeting outputs and supplier/customer information all inform the analysis.
We go to the coal face, sit with your staff at their desks and watch them work, interview them at their desk or in focus groups. And we compare what we have seen in other organisations to what happens here.
We’ll speak to lots of people. We’ll pay attention to all sorts of things. And then we’ll begin to suggest ways you can get at the “low hanging fruit”, and ways you can you change incentives and disincentives, the forms which feed your admin processes, the ways in which you correct errors, the way you train your staff, or anything else we find which sucks up time.
Map significant processes
With key clients we identify the processes that are most important, and develop process maps to illustrate them. This provides a central tool for identifying process failure and supports future change management with staff.
Analyse and identify opportunities
The process sounds simple, and at its core it is. But analysing the data and finding opportunities is where the expertise comes in. We’re familiar with the type of data involved and have years of experience developing complex staffing models.
We may show you where you need more people or fewer; how one area is underperforming compared with another or with best practice; or where there are duplicated or redundant tasks. Or even places where high-level people are doing low-level tasks – how much filing, photocopying and scanning are your senior staff doing?
By listening to your people, analysing the data, and calling on our experience and training, we identify ways you can do more with the resources you have.
Consult and liaise
At all stages we aim to have the support and trust of the people we work with. You know your business, and the nitty-gritty detail. All our information gathering involves input and consultation from stakeholders. Any change wouldn’t stick without it.
A central part of any productivity improvement is to support supervisors to do their job. We identify where supervisors need extra data, where there is a training gap, where role definition undermines supervision, and where best practice performers are doing a good job, and what makes it good.
Build action plans
We don’t want to leave you with a report that looks good but doesn’t help. We set out clear, specific, step-by-step action plans that you and your teams can implement in the way that suits. Clear. Concrete. No jargon.
Methodologies in use
We take a little from a lot of different places. Our teams are trained in all the acronyms: TQM, Six Sigma, Lean, Kaizen, BPR, MOS, BPM…and what we haven’t been trained in, we’ve read. Experience in consulting in areas that are process-focused supports this: we have plenty of experience in ERP installations, internal control and risk analysis, Sarbanes Oxley, Good Practice Interaction with Health Professionals and more.