Portfolio of Process Improvement

 

Dynamic GPM Estimating   –  CoCal Construction

Improvement Opportunity:  Construction estimates took roughly ten days each, with the final step requiring a single day  of error prone hand writing unit prices into final official bid documents. This high focused time reduced the output of the department, and often resulted in last minute scrambles.
Process Improvement: I found ways to remove the last step completely, by digitally tying our estimates directly to what would become our final bid documents.  This allowed us the entire last day of the bid to apply competitive pricing, update numbers, and be precises with our profit models.
Change Leadership: Trust in this critical change was established by incremental roll-out from smaller opportunities, resulting in ownership of mistakes and new evolutions of the process.  Leadership was brought into the excitement of the change by being given new controls to explore the profit margins, and allowing them to see instant impacts of their decision on overall pricing (including post bid analysis).  Team members were trained in 1:1 sessions, and acceptance came easily when the felt less ‘bid-day’ stress.
Outcomes: 100% of sales goal achieved in 50% of the allocated time, while reducing department headcount, all while capturing a higher profit margin on our contracts.  With my improvements the company was simply was outperforming the competition and using past learnings to fuel our competitive estimating.

Parts Pricing Model  –  CoCal Construction  –  2004

Improvement Opportunity:  Vendors serving multiple contractors would often reuse their pricing models from the first request.  This saved the vendor time, but passed errors and common pricing to all of their customers who were in tight competition.
Process Improvement: By working with the vendors and understanding their unique systems, I created our pricing model inverted to our competitors; we bid individual parts rather than complete systems (which is how we would have purchased them eventually).  The system separated the parts for us, allowing quicker, unique, and more accurate pricing.
Change Leadership: Partnering with project managers and purchasers was key in this initiative, as they were deeply practiced with the previous system.  Meetings with vendors and core teams helped to highlight opportunities and build confidence holistically. All individually believed in the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of the new approach, and hearing the shared sentiment aided in change uptake.
Outcomes: Drastically improved relationship with vendors, and confidence we were the only ones using our pricing (as the data was useless without the model).  We reduced estimation time, internal labor costs across multiple departments, and physical waste. We improved accuracy, vendor pricing rates, and gross profit margin.

One source of truth: Bidding to Build  –  Columbine Design Inc  –  2005

Improvement Opportunity:  With a sales cycle often spanning months, details were being lost along the way.  Sales contracts lacked critical information from the estimates, and installation project managers were not given the information they needed to be truly successful.  Customer satisfaction and company profit was impacted.
Process Improvement: Improvements to the existing system and creation of new dataflows allowed for information to connect from original bid to final build.  The project managers were granted different information than the customer, but rooted from same source. Customer, salesperson, and project manager became aligned.
Change Leadership: In crafting a successful improvement, it was critical to listen to sales people, estimators, and project managers to understand the unique needs and similar wants of each group.  Leadership felt empowered with advance visibility and control over profitability, and gave their full support along with the support of the teams who felt invested and partnered in the outcome.
Outcomes: With the reduced sales cycle and improved handoff of contracts to project managers, the company was able to find better control on their pricing models,  easily move between jobs, and improve customer sentiment. Lastly, the agility allowed the company to explore a new customer segment previously deemed out of reach due to our process and profit models.

Resource Scheduling & Impacted Decisions  –   Columbine Design Inc

Improvement Opportunity:  The company backlog of work impacted pricing models, sales tactics, and profitability forecasting.  With leadership, sales teams, and project managers all needing this critical information, the current system was no longer sufficient to handle our resource scheduling.
Process Improvement:  I took the physical system and created a digital, flexible, and dynamic scheduling tool that could be updated across the company in a moments notice (rather than a weekly event).  Scheduling decisions became a daily event (or more) to ensure sales teams and project managers were aligned on impacts, sales events, and profit forecasting.
Change Leadership: After years of status quo, changing the way people receive information to their job can be a delicate process.  For this initiative I ensured each team member found value in the new information and format by listening to their needs and helping to find opportunities in how they would personally use the new information.  Group meetings were followed up by 1:1s, and people quickly started to use the information on their own and even finding new ways to incorporate it into their daily work. The new process quickly became fundamental in how we communicated and ensured alignment.
Outcomes: The improved process and tools allowed better negotiations with customers, project management, purchasing decisions, and forecasting of budgets and profits.  Lastly, I was contracted years later (after leaving the company) by multiple other firms to build new versions of this same process/tool, as word spread of the power of this system and the opportunities it brought.

Project Costs: A Focus on Profitable  –   Columbine Design Inc

Improvement Opportunity:  The company lacked a deep understanding on project profitability, and therefore was unable to clearly forecast budgets, hone pricing models, reward top staff, or make informed marketing decisions.  Even worse, it was feared waste and theft was impacting the company bottom line with no way to find the cause.
Process Improvement: I was key in implementing a purchase order accountability system and job costing process.  We researched, designed, and launched a system that would work for our company culture and existing systems.
Change Leadership: The vision shared with the teams was focused on the positive opportunities awarded to them if the company grew and was successful.  Job costing is hard and exposes failures, and the company culture was not ready for this level of vulnerability. Our approach was focused around ‘learning & teaching’ to encourage people to share things they became aware of that were impacting performance.
Outcomes: Many new opportunities were found in how we could continue to improve our processes, approach, and target customer.  Theft and waste seemed to reduce, and continual improvements discouraged future attempts. Job costing meetings became a regular event and achievers in the company begun to be recognized.

Company Knowledge Management  –  MGT Colorado Inc

Improvement Opportunity:  The established company still relied on binders and paper records to manage its complex contracts with quickly changing details.  Teams in the office and field often differed with details of what the company was contracted to do, and the outcome was rework, impacts to profit, and impacts to reputation.  The company’s legal risk grew due to lack of ability to organize and recall information.
Process Improvement: I introduce a database system to organize project information, which could be used by field teams and office groups to stay connected.  The database included all current contracts and obligations, and was able to keep pace with the speed of changes and contract modifications.
Change Leadership: Ensuring a clean hand off from paper to digital system was critical, which required significant QA and ownership around issues.  I asked the team to help ‘poke holes’ in the system so we could ensure it would meet their needs in the long run. This participation helped to win confidence while also building the critical experience the team would need to ultimately be successful.
Outcomes: The database was deemed a success and how the company would move into the future.  While it would eventually evolve away from the original system, it forever remained digital and changed the way the company organized and shared it’s knowledge.

Multilingual Time Tracking  –  MGT Colorado Inc

Improvement Opportunity:  Labor cost was the single largest expense of the company, and the process to record and track it was no longer effective due to growth.  The administration team spent hours trying to accurately track labor and find mistakes as the field teams made generalizations about their start/stop times.  We knew our losses were mounting up and we lacked the information or process to fix it.
Process Improvement: Identifying the digital resources (basic cell phones) we had already, I vetted vendor solutions that met our needs and gave us the control we needed.  Our goal was to not inhibit our workers while empowering the administration teams with data, accountability, and efficiencies.
Change Leadership: Training a multilingual team in new technology was successful after creating assets highly focused on imagery and basic words (translated).  I created new phone cases with the needed information for each field leader, allowing them to always have the information at hand that they needed.  We checked in daily for the first few weeks until the change was established, and public rewarded the teams that achieved highest success rates to promote engagement among the workers.
Outcomes: The improved tracking allowed for quicker billing, which improved company cash flow.  In addition, the positive change for the teams improved company culture as the workers were rewarded for championing the change and performing as a group.  Lastly, the administration team saw improved moral as they no longer wasted time and energy engaging the field teams for clarity about labor hours.

 

Please inquire for additional and current examples of process improvement successes

 

Learning from Failure: Team-to-Team Tasking  –  Columbine Design Inc 

Improvement Opportunity:  As the two divisions of the company grew, the lack of formal communication processes between them increased work efforts, and negatively impacted project hand-off efforts.
Attempted Process Improvement: One division used a system, which I felt the whole company could benefit.  
Change Leadership: I failed here.  On a Friday, I sent a note to all new users saying they should start using it on Monday to communicate needs, and that we would “learn along the way”.  There was zero attempt by anyone to even try; the initiative was completely ignored but the sentiment of trying to tell people how to do their job was not.  This attempt at change brought confusion, negatively impacted moral, and set back communications between the divisions.
Personal Learning: My approach on this was horribly wrong.  I did not have the clear support and alignment of Leadership for this change, and it was perceived as me using my influence to undercut their authority.  I did not have the alignment of my team members who would be participating in the change, so they felt blindsighted and confused. My communication on a Friday for a start on Monday was poorly timed and allowed no time for questions, concerns, training, or discussion.  The false sense of urgency which I tried to roll this out was not rooted in a true business critical change. Lastly, the initiative was simply trying to use a tool we already had rather than fully understand our needs; this initiative would have failed in the long run had it not fail so early.

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