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Stephen Parry

How an organisation redesign saved a company and doubled their staff

I once worked with an organisation who for three years were one of 12 shortlisted companies providing IT Services for home users and businesses for a large US technology company. They suddenly, and without any warning, found themselves bidding to be one of the tech company’s three remaining suppliers.

Stephen ParryMy client was now forced to provide a compelling reason to be one of the final consolidated three companies  – in return the outsourcing USA tech company expected to pay less for the overall service. The US tech company assumptions were that by giving the three successful bidders more business they would have more ‘synergies’ and ‘critical-mass’ and therefore with the higher volume they would be able to operate a much reduced operating cost. The US Tech company intended to get at least their fair share of their suppliers cost reductions.

It didn’t work out that way because the company didn’t appreciate an underlying issue. While their way of measuring the end-to-end service seemed logical enough by splitting the end-to-end measure by each supplier they assumed the real delivery to the customer would be the same.. you guessed it, the reality was far from the functional company measures would have you believe.

The real end-to-end service delivery metrics were falling well short of their promised service levels to customers but they were disguised by the functional metrics which made it all look good. A case of the feasible parts making an infeasible whole. And who would know? because the US tech firm had set up their own people to monitor how each company was performing Individually without understanding how everything combined to provide the end user with a seamless service.  Microscoping management methods used when telescoping ones were needed.

So here’s what we did to help our client leverage a sticky situation into a growth opportunity.

First we spoke to company that was looking to reduce the number of suppliers and listened carefully to their plans to reduce the operational costs of running it’s end-to-end service provision    

When faced with the US tech companies selection panel our client’s COO did something most unexpected. He said “actually, we want to put the price point up.”

He quickly followed with an offer to show how his company could knock two days off overall product delivery time across North America. He also highlighted delays in the technical diagnosis centers, the inventory planning, the five logistics transportation companies and the five engineering companies who tasked engineers to problems.

Intrigued, his client asked him to explain.

Before we go any further let me explain how we got to this point. It really is odd for a supplier like my client to propose a solution that was outside of their core competency.

Indeed, when I first started working with the COO’s company, they were in a bind. They couldn’t afford to cut their margins enough to make it into the top 3 providers. They also knew that not landing the contract would throw 2,000 people out of work.

They needed to change their business model.

Our solution was to give them a new way of thinking, and a new way of competing.

Instead of competing as a diagnosis centre we decided to compete as a whole value chain. Monitoring and measuring how all the downstream activities including their own met the customer’s needs.

The result? They discovered that while all the companies in the value chain were meeting their functional goals the end to end service was nowhere near where the measurement system was telling them they were.

They went further and were able to devise a system where they could predict the actual end-to-end repair service down to zip code and product type and highlight the companies that were causing the delays.

It goes without saying that this client already knew about their dissatisfied customers. They just didn’t know how to drill down to find out why this was happening. Our client’s company did know because we taught them how to do it.

And because they offered something their competitors couldn’t, they got a contract despite the higher costs. As a footnote, nothing succeeds like success: their company not only kept their 2,000 employees but also doubled that number shortly soon after.

The key to this was looking at the end-to-end business as a whole including all other companies in the value stream and making the decision to compete on a value stream basis not just an outsourced functional basis.

In order to do this they had to become more adaptable and highly inventive and make it a core competency. It was clearly time for them to not only think outside the box but work outside ot it.

If you want to learn more about how Lloyd Parry can work with your company to stay competitive, please get in touch.

Redefining success with Adaptability a sea change for some organisations

When working with clients as they strive to build more adaptable organisations, I’ve found that it often takes time to realign their view of IT to fit the new dynamic. It’s almost like learning a second language.

Consider the case of a police service I was working with. They had an IT department and when they did upgrades, they were very focussed on how the technology worked –  which was ostensibly their departmental mandate.

But we saw the technology very differently. We looked at it through the lens of how it would impact service delivery levels, policing stats and ultimately, how it affected their customer: the public. That vision was quite a drastic shift from simply making sure the equipment was working!

We saw that when the department was setting their targeted strategies for three-years out, five-years out and even further, the technology they were implementing wasn’t aligned to meeting those goals.

They would look at a new piece of technology and talk about how it’s going to save X amount of money in the budget, or save X amount of time in productivity.

Those are valuable considerations of course, but only to a degree. Doing a project, for example, that would save 100 man hours a week of policing time wasn’t enough in our eyes. We needed create a linkage between the technology and how it could make a real difference in their stated goals – whether that be an increase domestic abuse prosecutions by 10 percent, or reduced night crime in under 18s by 15 percent.

We also needed to make sure they understood the need to adapt and change as crime rates rose or dropped.

We worked to get them to appreciate the outcomes of an adaptable transformation in terms of having a very tangible impact on service to their customers. Once they came to see how this expanded view of how technology connected with their stats and public perception of the force, we’d made a breakthrough.

Getting this – and other – organisations to appreciate the positive impact of Adaptiveness on both service levels and financials continues to be an inspiration.

To talk to Lloyd Parry about how we can transform your organisation through Adaptiveness, please get in touch.

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When a policeman has to use his wife’s cell on the job, its time for a change

When I was working with a UK police force on their Lean transformation, I had an interesting opportunity to speak to their IT department about the importance of IT and how it makes the force more effective.  

What I found in some cases was terrifying and comic in equal doses.

A police officer was interviewed about his police issue mobile phone. He told us that when it broke down it had to go away for two to five weeks. He also noted that at the time of our conversation it had been out for repair four times in five months.

But that’s not the comic or terrifying part.

The officer was asked if he used backup phones. He said he would but they were all out for repair.

So what was his working solution? He used his wife’s phone which was, of course, against departmental regulations. When pressed on this apparent flaunting of protocols, he simply shrugged ‘What would you have me do?’.

So the terrifying and comic part? He was the head of the Rapid Firearms Response Unit. The head of this important part of tactical response policing could have been using his wife’s cellphone during a crisis. Comic and yes, terrifying.

How did it come to be that their communications were in such disarray? Well, the repair process was handled by three different organisations: the IT department, an outsourced repair company with a one-week turnaround service agreement and another company that supplied replacement phones.

The issue, ironically, was communication: none of these departments talked to each other. They were also measured against different targets, there was no context provided to the companies as to the purpose of the service and certainly none taken as to the impact on the customers: the police in the first instance, and most importantly, the public.

This story has a happy ending however. The tale made its way to the Police Commissioner and service for the entire process was brought back in house. Most crucially, the performance indicators were changed from repair times to the standard of no officers being without authorized communications devices.

This story had a long tail in that it set in motion a whole new service strategy from object focussed to customer focused. Things change when you understand and are committed to the customer’s purpose.

To find out how Lloyd Parry can transform your organisation to more effective service parameters, please get in touch.

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Is your organisation keeping up with tech changes in your industry?

Did you read the Technology sections of your usual web haunts today?

No? But that’s okay because you read it yesterday, right?

Not really.

New technology and IT solutions are emerging daily. And organisations that pay attention to these changes are more adaptable to the markets and their customers.

But keeping up on technology is only part of the equation. Ensuring your workforce integrates it into their day-to-day work is crucial.

That seems obvious but how many companies actually make continuous improvement an organisational priority? In my experience, very few.

And yet the revolution is coming. The ability to master continuous change is going to be a prerequisite to compete in the marketplace. This isn’t a nice-to-have. Adaptability will be a crucial must.

Consider these questions:

  • In a world where strategy and targets are being redefined every day, how do you manage planning, fiscal control, and forecasting?
  • How can better management of activities and operational systems control, and in some cases, eliminate costs?
    What skills do companies need to develop internally in order to respond to outside forces?

Recently we’ve had a few inquiries about conducting internal two-day tutorials and adaptability workshops that focus on these these pressing issues.

Measuring and Managing for Value: from controlling costs to maximizing business value, looks at emerging strategic challenges and their implications on business.

Click here to learn more about this workshop and how it can move your business from being completely reactive to outside forces by employing an adaptable framework for ongoing success.

Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?

Stephen Parry 1st Grant Rule Talk Transcript

 

The Grant Talks

Even though many of us work in a world of analysis, data and detailed measurements, Grant never forgot what it was all for, he challenged everyone to help people do better work, improve themselves along with their companies and societies, to realise their human potential to create possibilities for a better life.

So how do we respond to his challenge? How can we influence companies who are simply concerned with shareholder capital without respect for human capital starting with the software development business?

The Grant Rule Trust. The Trust will be seeking to promulgate the insights into effective business practice discovered or inspired by Grant through a series of “Grant Talks” www.grantrule.org

    

 By Stephen Parry

Author of Sense and Respond

Grant Rule Memorial Talk Number One    

UK Software Metrics Association 23rd Annual Conference: 21st Century Metrics

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Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?

Social Capital

I want to make this notion of ‘social capital’ and changing the lives of people by changing the work environment, particularly software development and IT environments, the main theme for today.

When discussing software development, Grant talked about issues like technical debt, he worked very hard to reduce it by creating and teaching methods to produce software products that worked with little or no rework, that meet the needs of customers and the business.  When he did so, he kept stressing that the work climate needed to foster respect for people, create a blame-free approach and even eradicate fear in the workplace.  This way, software developers could become creative, innovative and adaptive.

Purposeful measurement

Unfortunately, software and IT measurement and development methods in the hands of a particular management style and approach, ones that tend to treat knowledge work as if it were a commodity, is sadly all too common.  Often there are well-intentioned managers who use software and IT measures for the wrong purposes, applying them in order to create work intensification, to assign blame and target under-performing staff.  The wrong measurement applied for the wrong reasons in the wrong way often results in the wrong people being placed in the wrong……. read more….

Download the full transcription here.Stephen Parry 1st Grant Rule Talk transcript