Process Improvement: Part 1

Process Improvement Win: $7.5 Million Saved

I had the privilege of running a nation-wide SharePoint® process improvement project that produced some remarkable results:

  • $7.5 million in labor savings over three years.
  • Consolidated 36 offices to 13 while creating a nation-wide set of standard processes and enforcing compliance with the new processes.
  • Removed 250,000 potential errors per year. (At an estimated $30 saved per error prevented.)
  • Reduced order error rates from 15% to less than 5% in some cases.
  • Freed up 63,000 sales and sales support hours per year.  This gave sales execs and support people what needed most – time to work on the right things.
Sales Before and After

Sales Company Before and After

How did we accomplish this?

CLICK HERE for full case study.  Below is the first of a series on how this was accomplished.  Also, you can CLICK HERE to join our weekly SharePoint® Process Improvement Forum.  (Fridays from Noon to 1 pm, Central time, no cost, pre-registration required, attendance limited.)  Some big lessons from our  success:

1. Resist the seduction of technology.  Focus on business results. Say “Where is the business value?”  “Where is a 10-fold payback for the time, cost and hassle of this great new technology?”  See Key Processes Where We Have Used SharePoint Effectively for a starting point.  In this project, we generally resisted the technology distraction by using only the parts of SharePoint® that worked (consistently) and were free.  Click Here for Tom’s List of Primary SharePoint® Value.  Note that we accomplished this result with $0 software cost for SharePoint.  The technology fascination that we see everywhere is driven by vendor profit motives and personal desires to be “techno leaders.”  I encourage you to set yourself apart – and earn the respect of your business people – by focusing on solving high-value business problems.

2. Three great fundamentals:  Executive support, user buy-in and scope control. I learned these 20 years ago, and they still apply.  We got executive support by concentrating on a single high-value business problem:  Reducing the cost of sales as a percent of revenue.  We got user buy-in by teaching the users to solve their own problems with SharePoint® (especially Lists – this was spectacularly successful because the users knew Excel®, and Lists behave like “Excel® on steroids”).  We had users teach other users why they should use the new system and how.  We contained scope by focusing on results that could be produced in 90 days.  SharePoint® helped in this area, because we wanted to get things done without software development.  This limited us to simple solutions, which could be rapidly implemented.

In future articles, we’ll discuss:

  • SharePoint® and Business Process Improvement:  Mostly good news, some bad news.
  • Process mapping:  Big deal, lost art.
  • What you need to learn about the business side.
  • The Dark Side:  Understanding and preventing the things that will hurt your project.
  • Personal and Career Suggestions.

Stay tuned, check us out at or CLICK HERE to join our weekly SharePoint® Process Improvement Forum

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