September 27, 2016
About the author : Ben Martin is a research and business development associate at Thera Rising Intenational. He also delivers seminars and oversees digital development.
Escalated conflict between the service technicians (60 employees) and the dispatch department (3 employees) impaired performance. Some of the staff left work early, emotionally distraught over the tension and accusations. The vice president of the division concluded that the conflict was caused by “personality problems.”
After interviewing a cross-section of staff, Thera Rising and the dispatch manager drew a process map of the steps she completed each week to create and implement the dispatch schedule. They discovered that when the schedule was published there were at least seven sources of “Requests for Deviations” initiated by various individuals including the president of the company, the vice president, the manager of the service tech groups, the technicians themselves, the regional managers, customers, etc. The dispatch manager and her direct reports would attempt to dissuade these changes, but were typically overruled by employees. The dispatch manager was the only employee who understood the magnitude of the problem. Her emotional exhaustion and frustration prevented her from successfully communicating concerns about the amount of waste these deviations were creating. When Thera Rising asked the dispatch manager to quantify the costs and frequency of this pattern, she estimated that, on average, she changed the schedule 40 times per week at a cost of $1,000 per change due to canceled airplane tickets, hotel reservations, shipped tools, re-routes, etc.
Thera Rising presented the findings at a meeting with the regional managers, the VP, and the manager of the service technicians. During a half-day work session, the group restructured the process and determined that the division’s VP would serve as gatekeeper for all future deviations, effectively eliminating almost 90% of the requests.
Deviations dropped from forty per week to an average of seven at a cost savings of $33,000 per week.