Process Improvement

As management system specialists, we review and audit hundreds of processes. As such we can identify risks and opportunities in processes and help businesses to gain the benefits while controlling the risks.

The following page provides some examples of situations where we have helped our customers identify and manage their big risks using a mix of experience and innovation.

Example 1: Project Estimation

In 2010, while visiting a local government-owned corporation with a customer we got into a conversation with a senior manager there. He was meeting the Executive Board to seek more money for a project which had been seriously underestimated. He explained that this happened often and that it was a difficult situation for him and his department. We asked to see the estimating process and we were shown a large lever-arch file and told that estimators use the file to develop the pricings using whatever means they see fit. The Department Manager then approves the pricing. This was a slow process and meant that checking someone’s work, updating project quantities, or re-pricing a project was almost impossible without the original estimator. It also meant that even after finding they had underestimated a project it was hard to work out why.

RKBC took that file with its 6000+ priced items and developed a tool for the client. The tool centralises the control of the pricing. This means that updating a price affects every following project. The tool allows project estimating in terms of quantities alone but can generate a priced schedule at the click of a button. Projects can also be saved and at any time in the future, repriced against the current price book.

We provided initial training and documentation for the tool and they now train their own staff. The manager can now check and easily modify project quantities. Projects can easily pass between estimators or can form the basis for new projects. Updating Project pricings is just the a click of a button.

In 2018 the customer asked for additional functions to be added to the tool, but other than this the organisation has spent no money on this tool since its original build in 2010.

Example 2: Paper Dependency

A customer ran a service industry where the records of the work conducted were written on a paper form. We audited the process as part of our management system maintenance services. Our finding detailed that not only was the piece of paper the only record of the work but if it ever got lost the customer wouldn’t be billed and worst of all, their next routine visit wouldn’t be scheduled. Losing that piece of paper meant the loss of a customer. After a bit more investigation we found examples where this had happened.

On the basis of this finding we reviewed the entire process, quantifying the risk at each step. Then we used this process map as the basis for a business case to obtain funding to improve the process and eliminate the risk of losing customers.

Example 3: Project Overview

We had a customer who ran projects. The projects were listed in one application. The time that people booked against the project was listed in another. The project costs were recorded in a third application. Trying to determine how well a project was performing was incredibly cumbersome and so some projects were making large losses, but it wasn’t obvious unless someone took the time to analyse the project.

We built onto the project application so that it gathered current data from both the booked time and project costs. It then compared the performance against the budgeted costs and time and highlighted projects which were performing poorly.

Example 4: Management system with 20,000+ documents

We were engaged by a federal government department to help after receiving an unfavourable certification finding which identified the management system contents located on their intranet were not adequately controlled. Another consultant had previously identified examples of management system documents that were obviously superseded, duplicates, or required review. We were tasked with helping fix up the management system contents.

The first thing we did was to run an automated analysis of the system contents. This showed over 20,000 documents. Gulp! The analysis identified filenames, file sizes, and modified dates. It also detailed how the content was linked in the intranet. From this, we were able to generate a report suggesting which documents should be removed, which were redundant, and which were most likely the current documents. We were able to generate priority lists of content for each department to review and we engaged with each stakeholder until the system was back to only valid and current content.

Example 5: Custom made engineering equipment

One customer had a very strong metal fabricating team and so when they needed a 5-ton crane and a forklift safety cage they built their own. Although these items looked professional the design and build had not been reviewed by an engineer. No documentation had been produced for the equipment and no routine inspections were established. As such this posed a significant risk to the organisation. If the equipment was to fail and someone was hurt, their liability was huge. As such, the equipment was removed from service.

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