We started with blank slates and said what if. What if we had this equipment and what if we reorganized the areas in this way. What if the process worked like this.
The what ifs, involved several people from all across Ebsco but centered on the department teams themselves. Several hours were spent observing the flow of parts and people through the department. The locations of tools and machinery were debated and then debated again. documentation and paperwork was scrutinized over and over Although this process is ongoing in every department, every day, the critical focus on these departments was completed about 6 months ago.
In the shipping department we added a new automated bagging machine. We developed a new partnership with a vendor to manage packaging supplies. We have completely changed the department layout. New tables and lighting have been added. Shipping looks nothing like it did two years previous. We looked at all of the processes in the department and streamlined them to match the new layout. New work instructions for many jobs were launched. Orders flowed through with a new streamline ease.
In our Quality Assurance department the changes were forced upon us with a partial roof collapse in the heavy snows of 2010. We didn’t plan on starting this project but we sure weren’t going to pass up the opportunity. It would have been easy to repair the roof and go back to business as usual but that’s not the Ebsco way. We added carts to handle product, new testers, new lighting and a compete change to the flow and layout of the area. We re-trained and cross trained to allow the adoption of a new, less complex system. The entire process was examined and changes made. QA has a new sense of purpose. You can see it in the staff. they are in control.
All of this required time to learn the new processes and time to train other departments how their interactions with the new procedures changed. The key question was always WHY or WHY NOT. Why can’t we do it this way? Why not knock out that wall and change the flow? WHY and WHY NOT. we asked the question endlessly.
We spent a great deal of money and time on these changes. For several months everyone’s focus were on these departments. The question now is “Was it worth it? The primary purposes for the changes was increased quality of the product they delivered and I can say we experienced positive results immediately after the changes. Fewer errors and more efficiency in the delivery of their tasks. They improved their service to both external and internal customers. The other purpose of the changes was productivity. Will we see a reduction in payroll? First let me say that no one lost their jobs due to the changes. All improvements we realized were through attrition or department transfers. As of today here are the results
- Quality Assurance Staffing was reduced 20%
- Shipping Staffing was reduced 25%
These improvements were made with increased accuracy, better quality of service and increased volume in the departments.
All of these changes were initiated by the team members in their departments and support staff such as IT and maintenance. Everything we achieved was there due to their input. No consultants or experts were used. I remembers many times standing in the department with the CEO, Ms. Dooley and team members. She would ask a question and they would offer thier input. After a discussion she would tell them to go ahead, it was their department and they knew best. This happened over and over again.
Credit for the results go to Ms. Dooley and the management team at Ebsco. They deserve credit for one thing, and one thing only, trusting in the quality of Ebsco’s people. Ms. Dooley and the management staff had the courage to stand back, listen and say you know best. Making it all happen is because of the department and support teams at Ebsco. They made it a success.
Way to Go EBSCO!