For more than three years after two initial projects with the client, the client request a series of operational audits involving each of their more than 20 offices to reinforce the aggregate changes implemented to improve operational and financial performance. When appropriate, these audits included a series of training sessions on the roles and responsibilities of supervisors, performance measurement and management, and work simplification and methods improvement techniques.
The scope of the operational audits included the following:
- Analysis of staff productivity;
- Determination of cycle times for key office processes;
- Identification of improvement opportunities in the areas of service, quality, responsiveness, and productivity; and
- Documentation of work volumes for basic office activities and Key Volume Indicators.
Project staff provided Executive management and District management with an independent assessment of the staffing levels, resource utilization, and improvement opportunities within the client’s field offices.
For each audited office, a report was prepared showing Program Plan (budget) staffing and actual staffing and comparing each of those levels to levels recommended by a model developed by project staff. This model proposed staffing levels based on measurable volumes of work which were reported each month by the field offices.
The underlying assumptions made by the model were reviewed against actual activity levels in each of the audited offices. This review was also provided in the Audit Report.
The analysis of cycle times for mail processing, bill paying, word processing services, data entry/data processing, and other activities in most offices showed significant opportunity for improvement. Where improvement was needed, project staff made recommendations to remove process and organizational barriers.
The staffing and resource utilization analysis highlighted a definition problem for “actual” staffing. project staff recommended revising the Monthly Staffing Analysis to include Program Plan as well as Actual and Model Office staffing levels as one way to achieve reporting consistency. Some offices were found to have Actual staffing below Program Plan staffing; rarely do the offices exceed Program Plan levels. Project staff found most offices staffed at levels exceeding Model Office-recommended levels. Consistent with client policy, project staff’s recommendation was to reduce staffing through attrition to Model Office-recommended levels.
In those offices that requested supervisory training, four half-day sessions were presented. The sessions included:
I. THE ROLE OF THE SUPERVISOR
(District) Office – Current
Historical – General
The changing roles of supervisors – current trends
What does this mean in day-to-day terms?
Where are you now, individually, and where do you want to go?
II. PERFORMANCE AND WORK MEASUREMENT
Performance Defined: Productivity, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Quality, Profitability/Budgetability, Innovation, Quality of Work Life
Goals and Objectives – General and Supervisor-Specific
Policies and Procedures
Budgets, Forecasts, and Schedules
Performance Reporting: What, When, Why, By Who, What Detail
Reasons for Measurement
Evaluation and Problem Solving
The Variable System
The SPAN System
III. WORK ANALYSIS TOOLS
Collection, analysis and presentation of data
Procedures and standards
Work Simplification and Methods Improvement
Defining the work process
Investigating the work
Challenging work details
Looking at alternate methods
Benchmarking, Brainstorming, and Enlisting other opinions
Following up on details
Each of these broad topics included some lecture, some exercises, and out-of-class assignments (“homework”). All were geared to the client’s culture in general, and the specifics of each field office and its supervisors in particular. Each assignment and exercise required some type of analysis of the participants’ current situation or working environment. Each participant prepared a list of the activities that they were currently involved in, including how much time they spent doing these things. This was compared to a model which was developed during the class time.
Each participant evaluated one or more aspects of the area which they supervised. As time allowed, we looked at analysis and improvement of quality, time-and-motion studies, flow charting, and other applications as time allowed. Time was budgeted to allow for hands-on, one-on-one coaching in the specific applications, when desired by the individual supervisor.
As a result of the training and its related activities, District management reported an increased emphasis on objective rather than subjective measures of departmental results. Awareness of productivity, backlog, work volumes, absenteeism, non-productive time, and other areas of importance to the individual supervisors and to the overall performance of the field office increased. Increased use of measurement enhanced the sense of responsibility and accountability of the supervisors to their peers. Bi-weekly meetings were initiated to provide a forum for discussion of performance, concerns, and removal of process barriers.