In the previous article “How to carry out an analysis in the optimization project,” I described popular analyzing techniques and methods willingly used also by me. Today I would like to present few real-life optimization examples. Mostly, they come from projects in which I had a pleasure to participate. Are you ready? Let us begin!

  • Conference room reservation

Justyna is a highly-qualified IT assistant. Each day she receives many requests about conference rooms reservations from companies located in the building. After only twenty mouse clicks, several phone calls, and three argues, one of the reservations is made. Now, Justyna has to send a confirmation email to a requestor and then update the reservation list on the rooms’ door. Oh, and be prepared that the requestor might want to change something on short notice. If only she had a technical solution that would relieve her of this rather not-so ambitious and repetitive procedure…

A potential solution: Maybe this process could be automated by providing access to a calendar for the interested ones, taking into account the occupancy of every room? A few clicks and the requestor could make a reservation on their own and notify the meeting participants. The reservation list would be displayed on a tablet installed next to the room’s entrance. If it was not enough, we might venture to use the RPA solution. It would assign a conference room based on predefined criteria such as date and time of the meeting, the number of attendees, availability of teleconference devices, as well as video projector, and so on.

I know what you are going to tell, “But it already functions in Gmail and Outlook!” Well, no, not everywhere, and not always. Not to mention that the functionalities in which these tools are armed may turn out to be insufficient in the above context.

 

  • The unification of processes

A company is the owner of a brand whose products are sold on ten European markets, and each of those markets has its own structures and products. Even if particular markets use the same tools and business models, still, they use the available IT system in many different ways. Categorization and registration of the business meetings can be an example. One of the markets considers as the F2F (face to face) meetings only those in which at least a few people participate in.  In another, business breakfasts that involve a considerably larger number of participants, such as twenty, are included in this F2F meetings category. Both markets use the same type of event to register it in the system. And that causes a discrepancy in target settlement. From an organization’s point of view, a product’s sales strategy is one and only, and such differences do not make it easier to manage it.

A potential solution: Maybe it is high time to unify processes? Let us imagine the future in which every market follows in a different direction and expands its own procedures as well as system features. Very quickly, a company will reach the point where the system, instead of facilitating the work, will make it even more difficult. And that is because no one will be able to tell who does what in the system. Believe me; you would really not want to find yourself in that position. To realize a consistent strategy of the company, you better begin preparations for the process unification well in advance. It will not be easy, but it is worth any effort. Fewer processes and customizations per market means less mark-up on the system maintenance, easier data aggregation on the global level, and certainty for customers and business partners. And at last – the possibility to develop a system in one, predetermined direction with an emphasis that could be placed on the most urgent needs of the entire organization.

Of course, the process unification must be carried out wisely, and not always it should be done. It all depends on the company’s specificity, its area, external factors, and flexibility level of the organization. In extreme cases, unification could lead to sales opportunities limitation due to the inability to adjust to the needs of a particular customer or market. And this is not an effect we would like to achieve.

 

  • The process of application maintenance

A department of systems maintenance receives hundreds of requests daily – all via email. Four people work day and night to help confused users. Tasks are not prioritized; some of them get lost and are never solved. It causes chaos and frustrates app users.

A potential solution: It is time to establish and implement the process of application maintenance in compliance with ITIL standards. This means defining clear principles of task prioritization, unbundling the first and second line of support (even the third, if there is a need). Also, it implies finding and setting up superusers or market champions for specific countries/regions (to ensure them quicker reaction for the basic needs of recipients), as well as defining SLA and task types, plus the process of handling each of them.

In the end, we should also consider the introduction of an IT tool to register and handle this process. Profit? Almost zero of lost requests, highly prioritized cases solved first, and as a result – happy and smiling users. This is what the application maintenance is about.

 

  • The verification of leads

Potential customers want to contact you and find out more about product portfolio, costs, and delivery terms before they decide to enter into a constant business relationship with your company. For this purpose, a mailbox was created, and an email address was placed on the company’s website. Email is assigned to Marek, the sales department assistant. Marek’s job is to read customers’ requests and a preliminary assessment of the business opportunity and then to forward the request to one of the account managers. It looks like this process could be improved. Let us try!

A potential solution: Does the verification process of the so-called leads sound familiar? Does it consume a lot of time? I suggest replacing an email address with a form on the website. The form can have defined fields that provide the key information to help identify the business opportunity. Filling the form by the customer could trigger sending an automated response about registration of their request. Would you like to assign lead straight away to the right person, based on information included in the form? No problem! Would you like to report the number of leads from every area? Or maybe correlate leads with the number of carried out contracts? There you go! And if that is still not enough, we may try a solution “to warm up” leads, as well as whip up customer’s interest – all that until you decide to take any decisive actions. The possibilities are endless.

 

These are just a few examples of potential optimization projects. No matter what processes we want to improve, remember to stay open-minded. There is a lot of creativity in your employees and the project team. Simply awake that potential and then use it. No idea is a bad idea, or too bold. If you reconsider each option calmly, almost certainly, it results in something good. One idea can lead to another one, and this one to the other five ideas. And what if something turns out to be not worthy of your involvement? Then so be it. The stream of ideas should swim continuously, and your organization – should encourage employees to the constant powering it with their own concepts.

Let us be honest – the optimization is not easy. Sometimes you will have to wait for the results for quite a while. Maybe you will even have to change the entire organizational culture of your enterprise or invest significant resources in an unclear aim on the horizon. It cannot be excluded that you will encounter many obstacles, your actions will be scarred with frustration, and many of your employees will resist the upcoming changes. However, potential profits from the implementation of the optimization are just too big to reject them that easily.

 

Ending the series of articles about optimization, I have a brief message for you, and – at the same time – a warning: at the end of the day, the winners are those who optimize!

I encourage you to read the previous articles:

Author

  • Paweł Sidorowicz
  • Business and System Analyst
  • An analyst with extensive experience. He has been involved in the IT industry for 7 years, he has participated in projects for Polish and international clients operating in financial, healthcare, car audio, and pharma industries. For nearly 3 years, he has been carrying out projects based on the Salesforce platform. An enthusiast of Agile and optimization projects, a team player, motivator, and smile bringer.

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