One nice thing about working for IWCO Direct is leadership’s focus on continuous improvement, quality, and Lean principles. Steel Partners also encourages us to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals—and that’s just what we’re doing by investing in a large project to change our systems (tools) and processes, and also investing in our people through training and engagement.
Making Workflow Improvements at the “Front End”
I’m passionate about helping our project teams achieve workflow improvement goals—from SharePoint solutions, to process flow diagrams, to value stream mapping, and more. Our subject matter experts (SMEs) and management from several cross-functional departments recently formed a committee dedicated to implementing significant workflow improvements for our “front-end” departments.
Our front-end departments encompass all job functions responsible for servicing our clients: writing job instructions, making plates, creating digital content, processing data, and other activities required to print and mail a campaign.
What Do These Changes Mean in Practice?
One example of how we are improving our front-end process is the implementation of an automated Order Acceptance workflow that will replace an email-driven process. This new workflow improvement will deliver job specifications to the Planning department faster. Equipped with advanced visibility to more complete job specifications, all downstream groups will be better equipped to make work assignment decisions. Scheduling will have better visibility to a job’s optimal workflow through our production facilities—allowing the best equipment to be reserved that will ensure a job’s speedy and flawless execution.
Another example is updating our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to make it easier to write job instructions. As our clients’ campaigns become more complex with expanded versions and formats, so do the instructions for how our internal departments must produce the work. Our goal in updating the ERP system is to enable a lean flow of information from our clients and Client Services teams into the system that compiles our job tickets for Content Development and the production areas.
Measuring Results to Set New Goals
We also understand that we can only improve if we measure results. Several new reporting tools are being implemented to measure departmental workload and instances of errors caught and corrected within job instructions. These reports allow each team within the front-end workflow to see our current productivity levels and work toward a new goal.
As the new workflow is defined, our standard processes and procedures will be updated and published on our company’s SharePoint site. New training courses will be developed to help employees more quickly implement their new responsibilities. By managing the new business process, we keep all the key players involved in producing our clients’ work aligned to our new mission. And we tackle those Big Hairy Audacious Goals, too.
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