• Clive Bird

Freedom Link - Consulting Case Study (April 2021)

We were recently approached by a client in the engineering field that provided services to the offshore oil and gas industry. They needed help to untangle their organisational mess, which was creating bottlenecks, stopping the flow of work, and lowering productivity. There were a lot of mistakes being made and the staff were really frustrated because nothing was getting done in time.

Our Process:

Being a process driven organisation, we use flow charts to map our client’s workflows while diving into our client’s business.

We follow a simple process that looks like this:

Problem —> Investigation —> Plan of Action —> Implementation

We started the process by diving deep into our client’s business to investigate concerns, issues, and problems. We asked staff questions such as “how long it took to complete a task” and what their daily workflow was like, systems they use etc. The problems found were outdated programs, clunky scheduling and email systems, and no centralised information.

Problem 1: Inefficient Administration Structure

Work was slower than normal due to one person only being able to allocate tasks to the admin team. This slowed down productivity, frustrated staff and caused bottlenecks.

After deep investigation into the issue, we found out that the various departments would email their administration tasks to the office manager, who would then delegate the tasks to her team. The tasks would then get completed and sent back to the requestor via the office manager. This was identified to be a major shortfall as when tasks were taking longer than anticipated, the requestors had to go to the office manager to find out when their tasks would be completed who then had to look through her system to see to who it was assigned and then go to them for a status before sending an answer to the request. Although the office manager was doing a good job, she was the bottleneck.

The other departments felt that there was favouritism occurring as certain departments would get their work completed quicker than others, on investigation we identified that the admin team were picking and choosing jobs to suit their skills and likes and not the needs of the organisation, this meant that difficult jobs were being left longer than they should and only got completed when department heads started getting involved.

Other issues we identified was that there was physically more work than the small team of two could cope with, we then progressed to each department head and discussed their departments needs we identified duplications in work between departments as they were all working off individual documents. Admin work that should have been sent to the admin team was getting completed within the department due to timing concerns which resulted in overtime expenses at much higher rates than additional admin personnel.

We presented our findings and recommendations to the company.

We suggested that they upgrade to a multiuser task management system like teamwork to manage internal and external workflows.

We identified that there was a need for a document control system as all the departments were working off their data, not off a centralised database. We recommended that being as they were using Microsoft, they could set up SharePoint which would allow better document control and work to be carried out from a centralised location.

We identified that a decentralised administration system would be better to suit the needs of each department. We proposed the use of our virtual administration team, which could better cater for the needs of each department, as they would get a budgeted number of administration hours each week calculated on their current needs. This would remove all need for overtime which would reduce costs and increase morale. By moving to teamwork and using systems like SharePoint, the outsourcing of the menial and mundane becomes very easy and efficient.

The current administration team could shrink by two and would focus on reception, internal actions and competitive advantageous tasks that should be kept in house.

Problem 2: Clunky Calendar, Dysfunctional Scheduling, and Antiquated CRM Practices

The current Apple iCloud calendar system being used was dysfunctional. The program being used had to be refreshed constantly and could not handle more than one person using it at a time. This slowed down productivity due to another person having to wait for the first person to jump out before being able to access the same calendar. Another problem was the calendar was all one colour, so staff members were not able to tell which person was available and at what time or date. This meant each calendar day had to be clicked into individually to find out who was available.

The CRM system was not being used properly and not suitable to integrate with their marketing and sales strategy.

The sales team were spending a lot of time adding information to the CRM. The sales team were using spreadsheets to keep track of numbers as the CRM was too complex. The built-in task manager was not being used correctly within the CRM or at all, so vital demos for clients were being missed. The CRM was not linked to their calendars, emails, and the data base was not used, causing data to be lost between the various hard drives, inboxes, and spreadsheets. The external sales teams were stressed that they did not have access to the CRM from their mobile devices as they needed to update the information at their office.

We found that in the space of sending out one client appointment, team members would have to jump into the Apple iCloud Calendar at least 10 times to make a tentative appointment and check the schedule. The staff member then needed to find the right travel times to coincide with these appointments, again jumping back in to update the calendar once the appointment was confirmed. This was a lot of unnecessary back and forth.

We proposed the following changes.

Set up an internal calendar using Microsoft teams and SharePoint, this would allow easy access to allow the quick assignment of tasks to available sales and service personnel.

Upgrade of the CRM system was imperative, we identified several areas where there could be improvements in functionality and recommended a contractor, we use who could build them a more serviceable system to suit their needs while automating and rectifying the issues they were experiencing. For the heave data collection activities, we identified that this could be completed using a virtual admin weekly totalling at between 5 and 10 hours per week depending on what campaigns were running’s. This would improve the effectiveness of sales personnel as they would not be held down by a back-office function.

Lastly, the integration of Calendly would allow prospective customers book demos easily with no involvement from any personnel as it would easily link to the outlook calendars of the team.

Problem 3: Templates and Documents Not Central

There was no centralised place to find documents.

We collected all documents, templates and research emails and set up specific folders on a SharePoint , that will now enable staff members to find documentation, emails, letters, and templates more easily.

If you’re feeling a little stuck in your systems, contact me for a FREE 60-minute systemisation strategy consultation.

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