Yesterday I was at a client’s with whom I work to implement a Lean culture, a culture of continuous improvement. What a nice challenge for them. Beautiful, but not always easy.
A change of culture is not done by the flick of a switch. It is said that changing a corporate culture can take several years. It’s as if tomorrow morning I decided that I wanted to be an Olympic athlete and participate in the next games. I can’t reach that level of excellence in 2 months of training, that’s for sure! Anotherr certainty is that I would need a coach. I could not do it alone, even if I think I could train myself. My coach will help me reach that level by guiding me, correcting me, and encouraging me!
So yesterday I was at my client, a service company that is one of the biggest and best in its industry. It’s good to see that even if you’re already good at what you’re doing, you’re still looking to improve yourself, go further, get ahead of the competition even more! Because if you don’t do it, your competitors will do and eventually overtake you. But it’s not easy to stay the course, it would be much easier to return as it was before. The challenges to overcome are numerous.
I see so many beautiful changes already. For example, employees are more motivated. Why? Because no one likes to work with problems, difficulties, complicated things, disorder, disorganization, and most importantly, always having to put out fires! Playing firefighter is tiresome in the long run. What happens when everything is always urgent? Well, people no longer see these emergencies as real emergencies, and they slow down, become disillusioned. So when the time comes for a real emergency, it is not treated as it should, creating frustration for the management team and for the employees!
To reduce emergencies, yesterday we worked on improving a process, from delivery to invoicing. The goals are to reduce the time between delivery and billing and reduce the number of unpaid invoices over 60 days and 90 days. The current process and the future process were mapped. Delays and roles and responsibilities were analyzed and reviewed. Finally, we gave ourselves 4 key indicators to measure our progress. It’s critical, if we do not measure we do not improve! If I wanted to be an Olympic athlete, I would have to measure myself. I would also have to give myself a target to reach, for example run the 100 meters in x seconds. Every day, I would time and compare my performance to my goal until I get there!
Don’t think you can improve a critical and important process for your business without measuring yourself and setting a goal. You might get there, but it will be with a bit of luck, and it will certainly be longer. So we will measure the number of unpaid files over 60 days old. Our goal is to have 10 files. Today they are over 30, so we aim to cut by half, which is already very good. When they have only 10 files for a while, we will lower the target to 5! It’s continuous improvement after all. For unpaid invoices over 90 days, the goal is 0, and they are over 40 currently. For the other 2 measurement indicators, we will measure the delay of a critical step in the process, the goal being of a turnaround in less than 24 hours. Today this period can take up to 7 days. An action plan to get there has also been established, and I will follow it closely with them. The benefit will be to reduce billing times and improve cash flow, which is critical for an SME. I conclude this little story by saying that it takes a lot of rigour and will to get there, we will not change this process and ultimately the culture of this company effortlessly. And I’m here to help and encourage them! It would be so much easier to come back as it was before, as it would be easier to return to sit in my chair instead of training for the Olympics! If you want to go beyond your competitors and you need a coach, contact us!