As Pat Sondreal mentioned in his September 21 post, we started the rollout of our new and improved front-end system this year, which is designed to enhance our direct marketing workflow. Every process, from initial request for quote to a job’s release to production, was analyzed and streamlined, and IT implemented several technology enhancements to support the new workflow. Amid these changes, staff training has helped our teams get up to speed.
From January 8 until September 30, our pilot team—including subject matter experts from Estimating, Sales, Scheduling, Outsourcing, Planning, Purchasing, Product Engineering (PE), Client Services, and Content Development—vetted the new workflow and created a robust training program that includes computer-based training for a hands-on learning experience. On October 1, our pilot team was ready to start training the rest of the account services teams.
What Exactly Does Our New Workflow Do?
This new workflow reduces cycle times for every IWCO Direct handoff and milestone such as data processing, content layout, and proofing. We are also using a new Order Entry system, known as the Order Acceptance Board, which collects better information and requirements earlier in the process, enabling a better plan for smooth execution. The Order Acceptance Board centralizes job acceptance so that information about a new job is available/visible for all teams that need to refer to it. The new system also allows teams to track the job through its acceptance and setup, providing additional manufacturing detail and a more accurate schedule.
Why Staff Training is Vital to Implementation
Teams that aren’t organized by account—like Estimating, Scheduling, Outsourcing, Planning, and PE—were provided staff training in late September to prepare them for rollout. Before the official rollout began, the training team made sure these teams learned their new workflow steps, so they could support account teams as they transitioned. It is necessary for them to employ either the current-state or future-state workflow, depending on the timing of each account transition. Several pre-launch classes were held in the computer lab for a hands-on learning experience. These classes were taught by department subject matter experts and professional instructional designers to ensure every staff training objective was met in time for new account teams to start learning and using the future-state process.
Account team training began on October 1 and will proceed in two-week waves, with the last of ten groups finishing on March 1. Each account team will receive overview training of the new workflow, after which Account Managers will participate in hands-on computer training to learn their new tasks.
How This All Helps Us Deliver Better Solutions to Clients
When we teach the new process, members of the Sales and Account Executive teams attend classes with the Account Managers and Account Coordinators. Everyone on the account team learns the new Order Entry process together and then collaborates to transition existing and future orders to the new Order Acceptance Board. The increased transparency of each order’s status helps prioritize work according to scheduled milestones and speeds up the process of creating a job and its specifications in our ERP system.
The learners from each account team are also using our new Learning Management System (LMS) to complete activities online that demonstrate their successful classroom learning. The training team set up Learning Tracks for each Account Manager so they can see how far along in the curriculum they are, and check off major objectives as they complete courses and workshops. The LMS also helps the staff training and management teams automatically track and report out each learner’s progress through the curriculum.
Even supported by new tools, these workflow changes require the extensive training plan described above, as well as the people to carry it out. A lot of complex, detailed analysis and collaboration has gone into the Front-End process redesign, and we are already seeing improvements in cycle time and quality. We must thank the pilot participants for their hard work, going above and beyond their normal job duties to define a more effective and efficient front-end workflow for our clients. Their flexibility, creativity, and ability to innovate have made this project a success.
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