PIE/PEP – whatever you want to call it, process improvements or enhancements has the potential to disrupt normal workflows and really upset your staff and possibly customers or vendors.
Process enhancements will bring change in the organization, as such it is important to look at the change carefully and perform the necessary analysis before implementing the change.
When you decide to undertake any process change you need to examine the need for this change, what is the imputes for the change?
All changes in any size of organization has risk – you need to weigh the risks to decide whether the change will benefit the organization.
Lets put together a scenario in a fictitious consumer electronics business that sells its products through retail outlets which in turn sells those products to the consumer – you and I.
This company ABCD Consumer Electronics (ABCDCE) sends out hundreds of packages per day, they also receive dozens of packages from the merchants they supply. These are either RMAs or defective products being returned.
ABCDCE charges merchants to ship product to them.
ABCDCE does not charge merchants for returned merchandise, either RMA or defective. They issue a CALL TAG to have the items picked up at their cost.
ABCDCE expedites ALL defective items back to the merchant using overnight service once the item is repaired. This cost is not charged back to the merchant, though is mentioned in the contracts that the merchant signs with ABCDCE. The merchants have come to expect this service.
ABCDCE has been doing business this way for 5 years, however in the recent downturn has started to look at processes in all departments – from Accounting to Sales, to Customer Service and in Shipping and Receiving.
As part of this process review, the company management has also decided to review expenses related to the core business to see if other contracts for services can be renegotiated.
After having reviewed their manufacturing processes, it’s determined that the rate of returns of defective merchandise is will within and in fact is below estimated rates – so no changes are needed with respect to manufacturing.
The management decides, upon review of sales contracts and discussion with the RMA department that they need to start charging merchants for shipping costs of items being sent back to them. The contract specifies that ABCDCE will ship items to the merchant upon completion of repair using ground shipping. However for years it’s been done via overnight. This added 30% to the cost of repairs.
The decision has been made. What are the risks?
In part two of this post, we’ll go into just a few of the risks and the process change that needs to be put in place in order to minimize the impact to internal teams (remember, this change will impact more than the RMA department if ABCDCE wants to recover the shipping costs from the merchants they serve).
In my last post, a few weeks ago I spoke about Increase Your Productivity In 2010. When anyone mentions ways to increase productivity, most people jump up and show their PDA/iPhone/smartphone or whatever method they use to plan their days, meetings, keep in touch with the office etc., But beyond these basic tools, there are other measures to increase productivity that are sitting under your nose.
Managing a call center, you quickly learn what these productivity enhancers are — and if you haven’t figured it out yourself, then most certainly your staff will tell you (very LOUDLY).
There are some simple enhancements that you can make you your users workstations, depending on their function and what they need. Other enhancements are as simple as ensuring that they keyboards work, the mouse works and they can start their computer up in the morning without waiting for 30 minutes.
Quick Fix #1
Function keys on the keyboard don’t work.
Most managers will roll their eyes at this, and chalk it up to yet another complaint – but until your function keys DON’T work you will never know how important they are. Much of what I do involves accessing multiple websites (internally hosted, of course) so access to the F5 key (refresh) and F6 key are crucial. When my keyboard stopped (well the function keys stopped working) it means that I now need to use my mouse or hit tab a gazillion times to perform the same function.
So you might be thinking to yourself – it’s only a few extra seconds – but could those seconds up and it could end up to be15-30 minutes per day in lost time.
If you’ve got an IT support team - make sure you use them to fix these types of minor irritants.
Quick Fix #2
Who doesn’t want multiple monitors – but most IT departments won’t spend the money on them. They also won’t support multiple monitors for one or two people, because soon everyone will want one because its essential to their jobs.
Sorry but that argument does not hold water.
As a manager, if you can make a solid business case for your staff to have multiple monitors and you can make the case for an increase in productivity via smoother workflows then what’s holding you back. Though an expense, depending on how many systems your agents need access to, and how many applications they keep running at anyone time on the dekstop a second monitor might be an expense that will pay off in smoother workflows for your staff.
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Quick Fix #3
Equipment that WORKS.
Whether this is printers, faxes or simple stuff like mice and keyboard – make sure equipment works. If not, replace it FAST. We’ve come to depend on the mouse, and when it doesn’t work – it puts people into a state of disarray. I “grew up” in the DOS days and when I had to switch to a mouse, it was terrible! I hated it. But like everything else, I got used to it and now can’t imagine how I’d manouver applications like Microsoft Office, or the browser any other way!
Mice and keyboards are cheap. Keep a few on hand, and everyone is happy should one cease to function.
You may even want to consider wireless mice and keyboard for key individuals on your team.
Quick Fix #4
The minor details – foot stools, good chairs and as ergonomic workarea as you can reasonably accomodate.
Some of these items may seem odd - like a foot stool; after all your staff is there to work – not sit and relax. But simple additions like these to those individuals that needs them results in increased productivity from those individuals. Something simple like a $20 – $40 foot stool may save a $200+ purchase in an ergonimic chair for someone.
Do you have any productivity failures in your work area? What are they? Share them with us, along with your solution!
Who doesn’t want to get more done all the time? And for those of us who are workaholics, who tend to put in 10-15 hour days we might just be doing more harm than good.
Over the last few years, there has been research done into multitasking – alot of which led to the conclusion that we are not adept at multitasking and by doing so, we actually slow ourselves down rather than get multiple things done.
I think mom had it right, when she told us to do one thing at a time.
So how can you get more done? How can you increase your productivity? All it takes is a few simple steps…
First and foremost minimize distractions. You know what they are, the cell phone/BlackBerry or other smart phone. That is a BIG distraction. Learn to manage your distractions. If you manage people, you can’t keep your door closed and have an open door policy. When your staff come to you, it’s because they’re need guidance and you can’t turn them away. But you can learn to manage your distractions. Lets take meetings – schedule them early in the morning, or late in the afternoon – but not in the middle of the day. They will eat up valuable time – by scheduling them earlier or later your focus will remain on the meeting not on the number of e-mail messages waiting, or phone calls pending. Try and do the same with e-mail – check e-mail on a set schedule; checking every 5-minutes is only a distraction that takes away from other important work.
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Organize your workspace. Is your desk cluttered with paper and important pending items? Well if you’ve not gotten to those important pending items for several weeks then they probably were not that important. File them away, and if you use Outlook or another “all-in-one” type application – set reminders for yourself to get specific tasks done. You eliminate the clutter on your desk and still have reminders to get things done. All that paper – get rid of it. Use file folders to organize what’s on your desk. Keep only the “tools of the trade” close and accessible. Yes, the coffee mug can stay.
Take a break – work less – work smarter, not harder. These all go together. If you’re well rested, you’re better prepared to take on the challenges you have for the day/week/month/year – if you contstantly work 15 hour days, take no time off to rest, no vacation you harm yourself. In the short-term you may get a lot of work done – but in the long-term you jepordize how well you get that work done. You may force yourself, but in the end your body will give up and you’ll be in the red instead. Taking breaks is also a must. You should get up from your desk every 30-60 minutes and get the blood flowing! Take a short walk and grab a tea/coffee/water – or just take a short walk, say “Hi” to your team. As a manager, you’re faced with pressure everyday. You are expected to perform well above what others in your department are doing, and the only way you will be able to sustain that performance is by taking breaks. Remember to take your vacation – it’s provided for a reason. Yes, there is never a good time to go – but you know what, it will never be a good time. That’s why you need to groom your team and senior members of the team to take on tasks that you perhaps perform that can be handed off, that pose a low risk to the company.
Stressed out? Don’t be! In order to be effective, you need to reduce your stress. Stress will not allow you to think clearly, it may cloud your judgement and it will prohibit you from doing good work. It can be difficult to overcome stress, but one of the best ways: exercise. There is an exellent story on ABC News about stress “Reduce Stress, Extend Your Life“.
If you’re looking to become more productive in 2010 – a few simple changes will ensure you can.