A small client administration team was experiencing high workload. They were executing a huge number of tasks, therefore mistakes were made that needed correction in the records.
Mistakes in client records could lead to wrong invoices, delays in payments receivables and ultimately cash flow problems.
The daily and weekly priorities were not obvious either, and the individuals in the team (4 FTE) had their own preferred way of working.
The team leader suggested to apply HerkuXL® Lean Six Sigma method to improve the situation.
Problem and Objective
The client admin team has agreed to have weekly meetings using HerkuXL® method to achieve the following objectives:
- Increase capacity of the team
- Reduce workload
- Agree on common priorities to cope with high workload
- Get some uniformity in the way individuals work
After collecting base line data on time spent of daily activities (time registration) it was quite a surprise for the whole team to see that per workday team members were switching on average 42 times to a new task with an average length of 12 minutes per task.
Even more surprising was the fact that there were huge differences between team members. One member experienced much less workload and was able to concentrate on the task at hand for greater length than other colleagues.
Analysis and Solutions
Learning from the base line data and executing the regular Cause- and Effect Analysis, the following improvement actions has been identified and also implemented:
- Team agreed on availability for phone calls to have focused time for concentrated work.
- Auto responder was installed to inform others about when the emails are going to be handled (2x per day), for the same reason as above.
- All the tasks were listed and prioritized together to make sure that everyone will focus on the right tasks when the workload is peaking (due to seasonal effects, holidays, absenteeism)
This was all a bit uncomfortable setting because the team was used to react on every inquiry at all times. This in the “name of” customer focus.
Now they had to choose for “themselves” in order to guarantee continuity of work without mistakes. The countermeasures were not been so successful if it was a manager’s idea.
The team agreed on the actions themselves and had executed them with great success.
- Team had created more standardised work
- Differences between individuals concerning of switching between tasks were reduced
- Team experienced a reduced acceptable workload
- Due to this new approach they were able to save 40 hours per week
- That is adding capacity without hiring new employees!
- This project can be applied in other administrative teams like Finance, IT, Facility management
- The basic principles are even better known in Manufacturing when machine change-over times are to be minimised to preserve production capacity and up-time.