This senior executive describes a Gagnon Associates business process improvement engagement he sponsored in his company. He focuses primarily on the ways in which this business process improvement effort accelerated not only the desired change in the organization, but also the capture of significant cost-savings:
We have begun to achieve some of the concrete, positive results of the Sourcing Project we worked on together earlier this year, and I want to tell you about them. First of all it’s important to note that results achieved to date are greater and earlier than expected. And I think a significant part of this is because the process re-design conference you led us through in August enabled all of us to achieve the kind of clarity and agreement on how we want our new product development process to work that we didn’t have prior to the conference.
As you know, the actual structural and organizational changes called for by the new process we created at the conference will be implemented starting on January 1. Since August, we have concentrated only on what I would call the “low-hanging fruit” opportunities implied by the redesign.
We decided to focus initially only on high-quantity items from two of our most key “mega-agents,” one offshore and one domestic. The new process changes have allowed us to consolidate our buys from these two vendors by season vs. by catalogue and thereby get a better price break from them.
Early returns are in, and I can tell you at this time, just from the savings we’ve identified from these two sources, I have accomplished 70% of my total cost-reduction target for 2003. And, of course, these cost savings flow directly to our bottom line. Needless to say, we’re feeling very optimistic about what we can expect when we fully implement the new process structure, given the early results from just this “low-hanging fruit.” In fact, at his recent presentation to our Board, our President characterized the cost-savings potential of this sourcing initiative as “one of the most exciting areas for the Company in 2003.”
On the less quantifiable side, I can honestly say I have never seen a change this significant or “strategic” go quite as well as this one. As you know, with some sixty Associates affected by this change, there was a significant amount of anxiety among the people closest to the process. After the interviews you conducted, we acted on your recommendation to keep communication about the change flowing to avoid the perception that there were any “secrets.” Giving people knowledge about this seemed to lower resistance.
Next, the mapping conference itself has allowed the change to happen much more efficiently. After having a hand in actually defining the new process, people were no longer asking “Why?” the change was necessary. They are now asking “How?” they can make what we blocked out together on the wall happen. To me, when this is so you have people looking forward to implementation vs. resisting it.
Also, in those instances where anxieties may still reoccur, the concrete process flow map we all created and validated together provides a great visible answer to any lingering questions. One of my managers recently came into my office quite concerned about one aspect of implementation. I walked her over to our flow-chart, pointed out the relevant solution area represented on the map, and reminded her that we’d already solved that part of the problem. I’m happy to say she left my office reassured.
Given the above, the only thing left is to thank you for your support. I have found working with you, on each and every occasion, to be a very positive experience. Beyond the standard kinds of things that any good consultant/facilitator does well, I want someone who can handle it when it gets hard, when you ask the tough questions. I want someone who lets me dig into the process before I sign off on the agenda, lets me make last-minute changes to include additional personnel that might make the difference in buying off on a change initiative, or decide half way through to take an entirely different tack to get to the bottom line results needed to fulfill the goal, someone who’ll follow up after the meeting with accomplishments.
I find these to be distinctive traits and ones that make my experiences with Gagnon Associates beneficial. You have a way of driving for results that address the issues. You have the ability to utilize the synergies of the group to bring out the best in the group. And in the end, just when we all think it’s time to quit you tell us “Before you leave, you have to address ‘who’s’ going to do ‘what’ ‘when’” to make sure we actually accomplish the work we’ve all just finished planning. I need that kind of consulting support as the leader of a change initiative. As a result, I can only add that my experiences with you have been inspiring both “on and off the field.” And I look forward to my next opportunity to call on your services. Many thanks!!