Organizations with between three and fifty employees can experience dramatic changes through the sound application of methodology engineering. Companies in this space tend to be focused on only a few products or service lines, enabling Slaughter Development to quickly identify and assess procedures which directly impact customers. Employees at small businesses usually perform multiple disparate job functions (“wearing many hats”), so conducting an activity inventory often reveals countercompetences and opportunities for workplace automation. Collective pride, loyalty and devotion usually drives the culture of these communities, which helps everyone to be open to positive changes and continued improvement. These and many other strengths uniquely benefit corporations with as many as fifty employees.
Challenges for Small Businesses
Small businesses may be nimble, but without the clout of resources and brand recognition of larger companies, decision makers may feel they cannot realistically afford or adopt major changes.
Not sure if your small business needs help? Consider the case of an office Slaughter Development recently encountered:
Each week, over three hundred inbound voicemails, electronic faxes and paper letters arrive in the processor’s three inboxes. All of these messages must be handled indivdually: manually reviewed and then typed mostly verbatim into one of several different systems. Furthermore, in many cases acknowledgement replies need to be sent out—adding to the stress. Every day, the messages pile up. This employee is never caught up, and barely has time to do anything except process paperwork!
A comprehensive overhaul of this workflow might be based on technical solutions: unified communication (routing everything to a single inbox), speech-to-text and optical character recognition to reduce the amount of data entry, and finally an automated reply system. This might be the eventual option, but in the meantime Slaughter Development found simple steps to alleviate current stresses. These were implemented carefully over a period of several weeks, to ensure success, resolve issues and build stakeholder confidence.
First, outside parties generating the inbound messages were asked to bundle their requests before sending them to the processor. This meant they arrived presorted, with no signficant additional cost to anyone, plus the added benefit of faster routing. Second, the company outgoing voicemail message was amended to inform callers: “Before you leave a message, please note that you may receive faster service if you place your request via our secure website.” This shifted the flow to email, a more manageable medium. Finally, the processor’s manager agreed to a temporary change in schedule to allow her to work during off hours. Without the distraction of ringing phones, co-workers buzzing with questions and the stress of the day, the processor was able to catch up on past work.
Thirty days from the launch, the project recovered an average of twelve hours per week. The additional time enabled the processor to pursue other tasks, and increased response time for happier customers.
Time saved is money saved. Methodology engineering in small businesses often pays for itself within the same fiscal quarter. If the case study above sounds like someone in your organization, contact Slaughter Development today for more information.