ED 540 - Performance Analysis Topic – Putting the quality back in Company Aby Preston GalesIntroduction:Company A is the largest third party construction quality assurance firm in the nation, but they have been havingtrouble over the past 3-4 months delivering a quality product. A company that claims to “assure quality” needs tomake sure their processes are efficient in order to show their clients that their product is really what they claim it is.We are going to look at what has caused Company A’s quality to drop off in recent months by analyzing the workprocesses that bring projects from the Sales Department to the Operations Department.The Problem:Company A has had an explosion in business over the past 12 months and is having trouble keeping up with it. InJanuary of 2004 the company received 35 signed contracts to start inspections. In January 2005 the number of signedcontracts was over 150.One area of trouble in particular is in project management. There are many people and many steps involved in the lifeof a project from the initial client contact in sales until set up in operations. The system that is in place now formanaging projects worked well when the company was smaller, but the system is struggling under the weight of thecurrent growth.Sources:I met with the VP of Operations for the company, Julie Wilde, and she shared that some of the problem stems fromwhen the Contract Manager was let go in November and the position was vacant for nearly a month. The currentContracts Manager is still trying to pick up the pieces from that one event. During the month of January that ContractManager was processing an average of 50 contracts a week. The average number of contracts processed during themonth of November 2004 was 30. This is a lot when you consider that the former Contracts Manager was dismissedpartly because she could not handle that workload.Julie also believes that hiring and training new employees is a challenge for the company. The number of peopleemployed by the company has doubled in the past six months. Many new employees have begun with very littletraining and the company has been depending on the employees that are properly trained to pick up the slack. Shefeels that the system now is employee-driven and it needs to evolve to be more project-driven.The Director of Sales and Marketing for Company A, Joel Daniel, helped shed some more light on the problem. Inthe current system, the Sales Account Managers are required to fill out, what they consider to be, large amounts ofpaper work for each project that comes through. Much of this paperwork has repetitive data so the Account Managersare not as diligent as they should be while gathering the data from the clients. Much of this data is crucial foroperations to get the project set up.He also feels that the company needs a better system for managing the projects both before and after the projects areset up. His one concern is that whatever solution is reached, it must not require the Account Managers to fill out morerepetitive information. He is afraid that if this happens, they will not be able to complete the process consistently andcomplete their normal duties as well. Without consistency, whatever new system that is implemented will fail.The five Sales Account Managers, Contracts Manager, and Project Administrator all admit that they are struggling tokeep up with their workloads. They want something to be done by management to make the system more efficientbut most are skeptical. The ones that are most skeptical are the ones that have been with the company the longest.Project Management Task Analysis: Sales Account Managers Contracts Manager Project Administrator • Create Proposal • Create Contract • Create Project in database • Fill in Tracking Sheet • Send notification of • Fill in project info for website • Create Project sent contract • Send notification of project is Information Sheet • Send notification of set up • Create Scope of Work signed contract when • Update projects in both returned database and website
There are several steps to get a project set up. First the client agrees to a proposal, and then the Account Managersends the project to Contracts, who then sends out a contract for the client to sign. Once the contract is signed, theContracts Manager has to notify the Project Administrator to set up the project. Because of the volume of contractscoming in and out, this notification may not go out for one or, sometimes, two weeks. The Project Administrator maytake an additional three to four days before setting the project up. If all the information is not there for the project tobe set up and the project gets sent back to the Account Manager, it may be another week before the ProjectAdministrator actually sets the project up. It could also be another week before the Field Representatives gets to theproject to initiate contact. So it could be nearly four weeks after QB receives the signed contract! In the past, thecompany has promised to initiate service within one week of receiving the signed contract from the client.Defining the Gap:Optimals Actuals Gap Sales Account Managers SAMs do not know, or Skills and Knowledge: SAMs lack the training and will have all the do not obtain the data need to learn what is needed. information needed that is needed to set a Incentives: SAMs receive commission on the number before sending it project up on time. and price of the contracts whether they can be set up on through to the Project time or not. Administrator. Environment: SAMs are using an inefficient system to collect data. Contract Manager will CM is not sending the Environmental: One person is trying to handle all the send all notifications notifications until one contracts for the company. The system being used to do within 24 hrs of sending or two weeks after the this is time consuming. contract and receiving events occur. signed contract. Project Administrator PA is not able to set Environmental: One person is trying to set up all the will set up all projects up projects until one projects for the company. Other duties are slowing the within 48 hrs of being or sometimes two process down. notified of signed weeks after being Skills and Knowledge: Other employees depend on contract. notified. the PA to answer questions that they should be able to answer themselves, and solve issues that should be solved by someone else. Motivation: The other employees currently do not have the confidence to try to find the information themselves.Closing the Gap:Sales Account Managers – The Skills and Knowledge problem can be easily dealt with by making sure theSAMs have the proper training.The Incentive issue can be resolved by changing the commission structure to hold the SAMs responsible forthe information necessary to set the projects up. I believe that this would have the biggest effect on closingthe gap, because then the SAMs would be sure that they knew exactly what is needed. This would stop theprojects from being sent back to the Account Managers, and allow the PA to set the projects up when hefirst receives them.The Environmental driver will be the most difficult to address because I believe that this will require newsoftware to be created or a whole new system that can populate the different forms with the repetitive data.A quick fix may be to change the Project Information Sheet that the Account Managers send to the client tofill out. The section that tells the client exactly what is needed to set the project up is at the end of this 5page document in small print. If these instructions were moved toward the front of the document and instronger font, the client may be more likely to forward the data needed to set the project up.
Contract Manager - I believe that the Environmental issue here can be solved by creating another positionfor the Contracts department. This position would be administrative and the main task would be to notifyall parties involved within 24 hours that a signed contract has come into the office, indicating that serviceshould be initiated.Project Administrator – The Environmental issue here can be solved by creating another position to assistin setting up the projects. In absence of that, another remedy would be to transfer some of the duties toother departments. Many of the duties performed here could be taken on by the Customer Servicedepartment, and Copy Center. This would free the Project Administrator to concentrate more on project setup.The Skills and Knowledge gap could be filled simply by training. This would provide the other employeeswith a way to locate the information they are looking for on their own instead of depending on the ProjectAdministrator.I believe that the issue of Motivation, or lack there of, will be solved by training. The other employees seethe value because they need the information in question to do their jobs. The Project Administrator answerstheir questions using information that they all have access to, but they do not know where to look. Trainingwill give them the confidence to find these answers on their own.If even some of these gaps are closed by addressing the drivers mentioned above, I believe it will have adramatic effect on decreasing the time it takes to initiate service on a project. If all of these gaps are closed,we will have accomplished putting the quality back in Company A, and the company will be ready for evenmore growth in the future.Role of Job Aids:I have been exploring different solutions and job aids to address the gaps in performance. One job aid is adatabase that will track new projects from the Sales Account Managers’ first contact with the client to whenthe project is complete and the Final Report is issued. This database will not be completed until later thissummer. Another job aid I have started working on will be for finding information, and will supplement thetraining that the employees receive for finding information. This job aid, when completed, will list allavailable resources one can use to find various types of project information. This is a very simple job aid,and will not be featured in this class.The Job Aid that I decided to create for this class will be for the process of Project Set-up. This job aid isnecessary to allow others to perform the process, and to make it more efficient. Right now this person is theonly one in the company that knows how to set up a project and initiate service. The job aid will be simplestep-by-step instructions that anyone can follow to set up a project without steps being missed. There areseven parts to setting up a project, each part with several steps to take depending on the scope of workdetermined by the contract. Without this job aid, the Project Administrator will have a lot trouble trainingsomeone to help him with his work load, and the company will have a lot of trouble getting their projects setup if anything happened to him.