The project began with an end-to-end review of the business, firstly through interviews with key personnel in all areas, and then through high level as-is mapping of all the businesses processes.
The interviews helped highlight areas where staff experienced frustrations which they felt contributed to excess waste within the business. The mapping sessions then enabled the documentation of these issues and made it clear where the process design was insufficient if the business was going to improve.
A key finding during the early stage of the project was that the business had no improvement mechanism. Staff were very knowledgeable and had multiple improvement suggestions, but there was no structure for raising, assessing or implementing their ideas.
Our report at the end of the review stage contained 80 separate recommendations for transforming the business to improve margins and better engage employees. We were then asked to introduce an improvement programme to enable implementation of our recommendations.
The recommendations were initially split into three categories –
- Pre-Contract Award, focussed on the sales and estimating processes
- Post-Contract Award, looking at Production and Fulfilment
- Monitoring & Control, covering EH&S, Quality and reporting.
A working group was formed for each category, and they prioritised the recommendations according to how much benefit they would provide and how easy they would be to implement.
The decision was made to use a tailored form of Scrum (an Agile project management methodology) to guide the business through the improvement implementation. All Working Group members were trained in the technique, which involved consecutive three-week periods of activity, called Sprints. At the beginning of each Sprint they would plan what they could achieve, hold multiple very short meetings to discuss progress throughout, and at the end have a review session to assess what they achieved versus expectation, and to present the results back to senior management.
The concepts were all new to the business and took some adapting to, but with Bourton Group facilitation and technical support, and encouragement from Senior Management, all employees, including those not directly involved in the program, began to see significant change within the business. The knowledge and the potential to make improvements happen had mostly been there already, what had been required was the structure to actually make it happen.
As well as enabling the business to make the required changes, a key improvement was coaching and training for Managers in their roles as Working Group Leads and in facilitating and leading improvement work. As their competence increased, Bourton Group’s involvement gradually decreased until after nine months they were able to confidently move forward without regular support. Although by this point almost all of the initial recommendations were either complete or under way, no end date was put on the improvement program. Instead the business decided to leave the structure permanently in place, as its method of suggesting, implementing and tracking improvements.