Where were we?
In part 1 you read about a team where the only standard was working overtime. Customers were unhappy with the service provided. The KPI score cards were green for on time delivery and quality delivered, but all the other KPI’s were red. Both the team and their value stream partners did not feel that their concerns were being taken seriously.
Going to the gemba
I decided to go to the gemba. In this case the gemba was in an office environment. I started the day with one of the employees. She showed how they start their day by filling out the planning sheet (below, names are fictional).
The colorblocks refer to the same job. They usually had three steps in their proces:
- Make the product
- Check the product
- Finish and send the product
The coördinator had filled the hoursheet with work that needed to be finished by the end of the week. The employees put in their estimates about the time needed to finish the work. Since there are no standards, this came down to educated guesses.
Sometimes they needed help from other teams to finish the product. They would not know whether this was needed until after they started processing the product. If it was needed work would take longer. If processing time would take longer that estimated some people would adjust the time sheet, others did not this.
Apart from the hoursheet their was also a customer request registration. In this registration they would register the planned delivery date. When i was visiting the gemba i saw somebody change this date. I asked them the following questions:
- Why do we need to postpone delivery?
- Do we need to do this often?
- How do we notify the customer?
Delivery needed to be postponed when the specifications for delivery were not clear. But also when the hours planned were not enough to finish delivery on time. Each time they did not make it they would inform customer service and then shift the date in the registration. According to the team they often needed to shift the date more than once for the same delivery.
For the team to do their job well, the specification of the delivery was very important. This specification happened in the prospect phase. When the team received the specification it would often be ambiguous or lacking in information. The quality of the specifications would not become clear until the team started working on the delivery.
This lack of unambiguous specifications also led to problems during the quality checks. If several interpretations are possible, several answers may be right. But who can judge this? The employees who were responsible for quality control had a difficult time convincing their teammates of the mistakes they uncovered. In order to solve this problem they had made a quality check list of more than 100 checks. They idea was that this way they could not miss anything. Reality was different.
They team consisted of 15 people. They worked in an open office space with 200 other people. When they needed help from other teams to finish a delivery they needed to go to another floor of the office building. Because of this they usually emailed the other teams with their questions.
Sales and customer service were in the same office space. They often visited the desks of team members to ask about a delivery or demand a faster delivery time.
There were no big IT improvements forthcoming. The team had built a couple of tools in excel and access to improve quality and work time. They had tried to use standards, but had discovered that there was no way to make sure deliveries fitted the standard.
Employee happiness and fulfillment
As you can imagine working in this environment was not a very rewarding experience.