This project consisted of a four-month review of the telephone installation activities of a major telecommunications manufacturer and recommendations for improving the installation process.
The client is a large manufacturer of telephone switching equipment and peripherals headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area with regional and field offices throughout the United States. The client manufactures, sells, installs, and services telephone equipment from single-line systems through 20,000 line-plus systems. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a multi-national corporation based in Germany with interests primarily in electrical and electronic devices and systems.
The client’s field offices consist of sales, installation, and post-installation service functions. The scope of the engagement included all installation activities associated with a relatively small system which accounts for a significant portion of the client’s annual installation volume. Four locations throughout the United States were selected for observation.
The scope of this effort included the following project activities:
1. Conduct time studies of installations for the XXXX Model XX. Project staff also observed some activities for Model XX installations to which we were not originally assigned. This allowed us to observe the installation team as they performed their regular activities, including the potential impact of assignment to multiple installations. It also gave us additional insight into potential variables which drive the cycle time and the amount of labor.
2. Identify redundant activities and possible lost time hours with detail as to causes or circumstances to provide a basis for corrective action.
3. Recommend methods and systems improvements which can be implemented quickly and do not involve capital expenditure.
4. Provide long range operating improvements which will require analysis, and may involve changes in operating structure, policy changes, and/or capital investment in the final report.
5. Summarize time standards information by functional activity.
6. Submit a final report after the completion of the final installation.
Throughout each of the four observed installations, project staff was on site, observing each of the installation team members and most of the installation activities. The objective was to document the activities within the installation process and assess not only the time actually spent on each installation but the time that should have been required for those installation. Since no project staff person had prior telephone system experience and since the installations were essentially concurrent, each project staff person was required to, within no more than two weeks, become familiar with industry-specific terminology and with organization culture. As with most projects, this project required close daily interaction between project staff and client staff.
The project’s objective was to develop a model by which future installations could be budgeted and managed and to recommend short-term and long-term changes in processes, systems, tools, and organization structure to improve the overall effectiveness of the field installation function.
To the extent possible, project staff was physically present during observed activities. When such presence was not feasible, logs were kept by client staff to describe the activities and the approximate time spent. As soon thereafter as possible, project staff “de-briefed” the client staff to understand:
• what was done;
• why it was done;
• who did it and why that person rather than somebody else;
• what problems were encountered; and
• how it might have been avoided or done differently.
1. Project staff developed a model which consists of both fixed and variable portions and, compared to the client’s traditional task assignments, shifts tasks among the three historic installation-related positions. The model also provides a basis for shifting to two-person or one-person installation “teams” under specific circumstances.
2. Actual labor used on the observed installations was 30-50% more than that proposed by the model.
3. Based on actual installation volume for the most recent calendar year, savings for the observed switch model would be in excess of one million dollars, if management manages to the model.