Time For Improvement

The team then moved into the improvement phase, where it brainstormed a number of solutions. The first solution to be considered was the imaging front end that the VP of Marketing had proposed. Although the team recognized that an imaging front end would address the first portion of its goal statement (ensuring that 99 percent of all updates are processed the same day they are received), it did not believe that this solution would improve customer satisfaction or accuracy.

Ultimately, the team determined that an intranet-based employee self- service approach would have the greatest chance of satisfying customer requirements. The team based its recommendation on the following facts:

The supplier of input and the customer were frequently the same person.

Virtually everyone in the company had easy access to a workstation and was computer literate.

Employees were already accessing the intranet to obtain the blank input forms.

Keying data would take most employees less time than completing and mailing a paper form.

Employees had a vested interest in data accuracy and would be less likely to make errors than keypunch.

The next step was to validate the proposed solution. This process consisted of two major steps: developing a revised process map (Exhibit 6) and ranking the proposed process improvements' effect on customer requirements.

Exhibit 6. Proposed Process Map

ftïcess Map

log onto

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update

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MbnqtkkMi

Syïlnn

CalTimaiiai

The team constructed a process improvement ranking spreadsheet to provide an objective, clearly quantified measurement of the effect each step would have (Exhibit 7). The team's first action was to take the requirements customers had identified without the importance ranking they had assigned and determine how well each proposed improvement would satisfy that requirement. To create clear distinctions, the team used the same 1, 4, 7, 10 scale that customers had used for their importance ranking. As shown in Exhibit 7, an online front end would have a high impact on the requirement to enter data in less than one minute, but would not significantly affect the requirement to eliminate system codes.

Exhibit 7. Process Improvement Ranking

Improvement Steps and Effects

Replace keypunch with online front end

Use pull down menus for all coded fields

Provide online confirmatio n of changes

Custom

Import

Effect

Impact

Effect

Impact

Effect

Impact

Total

er/Req

ance

on Req.

on Req.

on Req.

Impact

uireme

Ranking

nt

VP Marketing

Input

1

1G

1G

7

7

1

1

18

requires

no more than one minute

No system codes required

4

1

4

10

40

1

4

48

Updates applied the day form is complet ed

7

10

70

1

7

1

7

84

Updates are correct the first time

10

10

100

7

70

1

10

180

Confirm ation of updates within eight hours of the system update

7

1

7

1

7

10

70

84

Degree of satisfacti on from impleme nting improve ment

191

131

92

414

Assistant to VP Marketing

Input requires no more than one minute

10

10

100

7

70

1

10

180

No system codes required

7

1

7

10

70

1

7

84

Updates applied

4

10

40

1

4

1

4

48

the day form is complet ed

Updates are correct the first time

7

10

70

7

49

1

7

126

Confirm ation of updates within eight hours of the system update

4

1

4

1

4

10

40

48

Degree of satisfacti on from impleme nting improve ment

221

197

68

486

Average Ranking

Input requires no more than one minute

5.5

10

55

7

38.5

1

5.5

99

No system codes required

5.5

10

5.5

10

55

1

5.5

66

Updates applied the day form is complet ed

5.5

10

55

1

5.5

1

5.5

66

Updates are correct the first time

8.5

10

85

7

59.5

1

8.5

153

Confirm ation of updates within eight hours of the system update

5.5

1

5.5

1

5.5

10

55

66

Degree of satisfacti on from impleme nting improve ment

206

164

80

450

Although the ultimate goal of the process improvement ranking is to consider both the customers' ranking of each requirement's importance from Exhibit 3 and the degree to which each revised process step will satisfy that requirement (its effect) to determine the total impact that implementing a specific step will have on customer satisfaction, the team realized that to be as objective as possible it should not see customer importance rankings when it developed its own effect ratings. It was only when those were completed that the team retrieved the customer rankings and entered them into the chart.

The spreadsheet multiplies the importance ranking by the effect weighting to calculate which steps will have the greatest impact on each individual requirement. The column totals show the overall effect that each process step will have on customer requirements and provide an objective method of prioritizing the steps. Although the XYZ team had funding to implement all three recommendations, if it had been necessary to reduce functionality, this ranking would have shown them the impact on customer requirements of eliminating individual steps.

A separate ranking was prepared for each customer and the results were compared. As would be expected, because the customers had assigned different importance rankings to each requirement, the results of the improvement ranking varied. To determine an overall ranking, the team averaged the results of all the customer rankings. This average was used to determine the priority of process improvements.

Once the team had developed its proposed solution, validated it with customers, and received the champion's approval to proceed, it was ready to begin implementing the solution. This step did not vary significantly from normal IT system development.

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