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6 July 2010

Process Speed (You Make the Call)

This is another entry in our semi-regular series You Make The Call. Below you will see a scenario that is based on a real situation that happened during an actual project. We present the scenario and then ask you, our loyal readers, to respond in the comments section as to what you would do in this situation. After a few days have passed, we'll post a wrap-up detailing what actually happened and how successful (or not) of a resolution there was to the situation. As always, suggestions for system resolutions are often a part of the solution, but the solution usually has a large process component to it as well. Without further adieu, here is our new scenario.

The Contract Team

The extended warranty team in your company is under pressure from upper management to shorten the length of time it takes to enter a contract for an extended warranty. In the last half of this year, their time to enter a contract has doubled from the first half of the year. You are asked to help out that business area and to determine where they can save time and get the contract entry process back down to the previous durations.

Your first meeting with the manager of contract entry shows you a man who is frazzled from the backlog of contracts waiting to be entered. His staff of five contract entry personnel seem as ragged as their boss. As you talk through the problems, you find the manager has three large concerns. First, the spike in duration for contract entry time coincided with the replacement of their old mainframe-based contract entry system with a new, web-based CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. Second, every day that contracts are delayed in going through the entry process, that is another day the company is delayed in collecting revenue. Lastly, a customer service problem is on the rise because customers who have submitted contracts for renewal but have not yet had their extensions entered into the system and are failing to receive service.

After meeting with the manager, you spend time shadowing the contract entry team members. While you watch, you have your stop watch out and track how long it takes to perform each step in the process. On average, most contracts only cover two or three pieces of hardware and can be entered in under 10 minutes. Of that 10 minutes, 3 minutes is spent entering customer information, 3 minutes entering product information and 4 minutes to print the invoice and mail it to the customer. The old system is no longer available, so you can not compare timings before and after the CRM implementation.

You gather example contracts from the old and new systems and notice that the total number of data elements has doubled on the new contract. It seems as if the amount of information captured during contract entry has significantly increased with the implementation of the CRM tool. You discuss your findings with the contract manager and he agrees with your assessment.

Other Voices

As a last step, you interview managers from the Call Center and the Service Repair departments to see if they are experiencing similar backlogs during their processes as well. Surprisingly, you find out that processing times in both of these areas have decreased since the implementation of the CRM tool. The call center's 200 agents and the repair team's 25 technicians are all averaging slightly lower processing times. These two teams offer glowing praise for the new tool and how much visibility they have to data about their customers open calls, call history and contract status; data they did not previously have access to see.

Now you sit back at your desk and wonder where to go from here. Why would the processing time of one team spike so dramatically when none of the other teams seem to be having a difficult time? Your report is due in a few days so you better get writing!