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Making the case for standardization

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General Making the case for standardization

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  • #37310

    Dan Madison
    Participant

    I have a large group of billing reps who very much like the freedom they have in how they do their job. The team I am working on is wanting the billing reps to standardize on internal best practices, but we think there is going to be a lot of resistance to that. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get the point across that standardization is necessary for on-going process improvement?
     
    Thanks

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    #109609

    Mikel
    Member

    I think you should let them all do their own thing – maximizing their freedom and creativity. The small issue of also maximizing the variation to the customer should be seen only as a nuisance – after all the billing reps have dedicated their entire life to becoming the best they can be at billing.

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    #109878

    gonzi
    Participant

    The billing reps could still have freedom and the conseuent creativity within a standard process.  The key is communication….  what are the goals of the project.  How does standardizing impact the goal of the project?
    Maybe you could remove the negative connotation associated with stndardication by putting it in the context of “what’s in it for me”…..  how it could make life simpler and easier while at the same time achieve your business goals.  Involve them with mapping out their current process and supporting tools and then perhaps move towards process improvement.  This could then lead to the measurements for the metrics you’re lookiing at establishing….

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    #109880

    Sinnicks
    Participant

    Dan,
    Why standardize?  Is there a performance issue?
    This is one of differences in the competing quality philosophies.  Lean comes out of the philosophy that “variation is bad”, “eliminate variation”.  Some gurus/consultants/companies have advised or continue to try applying this throughout an organization. 
    Another approach taken by TOC and the early 6 Sigma programs is to primarily focus on the variation in areas that most effect the organization’s ability to achieve it’s strategic objectives.
    I believe the later is a better guide to weight the cost versus reward of any particular effort.  Your job is to be a major change agent to get your organization from its current performance to a higher level.  If this hill lies directly in the path to your organization’s strategic goal and must be conquered to achieve the goal, take it!  Otherwise, it is a leadership judgement as to what is the best path through the jungle.
    As for people’s freedom, they tend to like that.  But as in most grand philosophical issues there is a song snipet that applies, “freedom, is another word for nothing left to lose.”
    Have fun choosing appropriate change,

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    #109882

    Mikel
    Member

    Bad advice.

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    #109886

    gonzi
    Participant

    as Mark rightly points,  is there a business reason for focussing on the billing agents.  For examples,  do the metrics show excessive turnaround time resulting in a spike in customer complaints?  Or do the metrics show that that customer satisfaction metrics with billing related inquiries are all over the place?
    wheteher we leave the current process alone or do “something” with it all goes back to ….  what would the impact of changes in the process be to the direction the business NEEDS to go.
    gonzi

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    #109888

    Mikel
    Member

    Bad advice.
    We decide how we are going to run our companies and run them that way.

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    #109890

    KBailey
    Participant

    Dan,
    Have you showed them the need for improvement? Have you measured the number of defects and the time spent reworking them, the “loops” in the process? Have you showed them the cycle time, breaking it out into a time-value map and showing the related cost?
    It sounds like you’re trying to get the point across that the workers are the problem when you haven’t demonstrated to them that there is a problem. Convince them of the need to improve, and then get them talking about how to achieve it. You may find underlying causes – like a need for information or approvals – contributing to their desire for flexibility.

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    #109903

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Dan Madison,
    There are some assumptions with this. The reason you want standardization is to reduce variation in the group? If there is variation in the group and the reps are still focused on personal freedom then they are probably not accountable for the metric that is showing the group variation? It they are not accountable for that metric then they have no reason to be concerned with it.
    You also seem to have arrived at a solution and are worried about selling that solution. How did you get the solution – team or just your idea? If it was a team solution the Process Owner should be bought in (assuming they are actively involved in the team) and execution of the solution is owned by the Process Owner. If there is sufficent justification for the solution they may choose to do it by fiat but that will be an uphill battle.
    Just my opinion but if it is the right solution then the right metric on the group will drive the behavior you want. Those that chose to remain “the independent republic of …” will eventually be moved by peer pressure – either into line or out the door. Make sure that PO doesn’t cave in when one of them leaves other wise you will be right back where you began.
    Good luck.

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