Recently Justin Roff-Marsh interviewed Doug Voss, one of his clients, about the projects they have done together. Doug is a vice-president and founder at Sayfa Systems in Melbourne, Australia. Sayfa manufactures and distributes height safety and fault management systems for people who work on the roofs of buildings.
Sayfa went through a sharp growth period prior to working with Roff-Marsh. Sayfa’s future growth potential lies less in customer acquisition and more in the innovation of new products for existing customers.
The period of rapid growth revealed that Sayfa didn’t have a scalable business model. Consequently, most of the work with Roff-Marsh has been with new product development, technology, and engineering. They needed better technology to manage the teams and to make the work of the teams more visible.
Doug wanted a “scalable process that could cope with a high velocity of calls and customer service requirements that come through every day.” He wanted to get better control over the scalability of his systems so the company could cope with a high velocity of calls to sales and customer service.
At the solution design workshop with Roff-Marsh they mapped customer service and inside sales. Field sales activities were reduced from “small and spasmodic” to none.
Technology Migration for the Project Sales Team
Sayfa’s project sales team mostly does specification work. The inside sales team subscribes to a feed of specifications for new building projects in Australia. Inside Sales then chases specifications through the project workflow as projects move from architect to builder to installer.
They had been managing their projects in a spreadsheet, one project per row. But the spreadsheets became unwieldy—“teetering, freezing, crashing.” So they worked with Roff-Marsh to move the projects into a CRM application. The CRM application made it possible to associate one project with multiple stakeholders (architects, builders, and installers).
Everyone in project sales uses the CRM. This includes anyone from specification through tender through installation.
Improved Processes in Customer Service
Once Sayfa had moved project sales to the CRM application, they began a project to improve the process for customer service.
Many high demand requests come into the customer service team. They found it difficult to manage the workloads of the team. Customer service staff struggled to find someone who would take a difficult call when it arrived.
Roff-Marsh helped them to manage the flow and velocity of work through the team.
They made two distinctions in the type of tasks the team performed. The first distinction was between product requests and technical requests. The second was between short lead-time calls and long lead-time calls. They divided the work among team members who specialized in different types of calls.
They also began to measure on-time case completion. When they started using this metric, they completed 60% of their cases on-time. Now they are at 90%. They hung a board on the wall so everyone could see the on-time case completion rate.
When everyone can see the results, Doug explains that “you get a bit of banter among the team members.” This talk amongst the team causes people to look for ways to help each other to complete their cases and keep the on-time completion rate high.
When we can see the on-time case completion number coming down, we know we need to get some extra resources in or have a quick meeting to understand what is happening. What do we need to do to sort out or jump in and help the team. The team is aware of it, they haven’t become blind to it.
Identify and Exploit the Constraints, One at a Time
At their strategy session, Roff-Marsh and the Sayva team identified two possible constraints, project sales and customer service. They agreed that project sales was the most important constraint to focus on first.
Project sales faced problems with its ability to deliver full value to customers within a committed time-frame. However, this inability was not due to input constraints (they had plenty of new project specifications that they needed to respond to) nor was it due to a critical resource. The cause of the constraint was due to their sales production and planning practices.
In order to exploit the constraint in project sales, Sayva looked at the causes that might be restricting their output and how they could improve sales productivity. They identified problems with their technology, the “teetering, freezing, crashing” spreadsheets, and migrated to a CRM application.
Once they had addressed the constraint in project sales, the next constraint was in customer service. Once again, the cause of the constraint lay mainly with production and planning processes. Since the CRM application was in place by this time, they elevated the constraint mainly by examining the flow of calls into the customer service team. Better routing of calls and the measurement of on-time call completion made it possible to dramatically improve their quality and throughput.
Doug Voss at Sayva knew they had an opportunity to grow through innovation in new products. He also knew that he couldn’t pursue this opportunity until he had built a scalable machine in project sales and customer service. By identifying the constraints (in sales and service) and maximizing their productivity, Sayva was able to improve quality and throughput in both these functions. This improvement now makes it possible to pursue their growth opportunities in new product development.