Do More with Less ... Waste

How often do you go to work, do your job, and wonder how your work impacts others? Many of us work “alone” and have no idea how our work affects other departments in our organization.  I’ve seen many companies which function in silos or groups that work relatively independently. Where there is crossover, there often is not a lot of time spent working together.

Have you ever created a report and wondered why it was needed or who would be using it? If you do know, have you asked if it contains the information that they need?

I was working with a company last fall and one department created a sales report and sent it to both the finance and legal departments. When we met with these two departments to follow the flow of the report, we asked what they did with it and both departments replied that they deleted it as they didn’t need the information at that point. They only needed the final copy. Very quickly, we were able to realize that the purchasing department was wasting time and resources creating and submitting an unnecessary report, but also that the finance and legal departments were wasting time dealing with an item they didn’t need.

Using the Ben Graham methodology, we follow items as they travel within or between departments. The maps we produce help with the bigger picture and give a sense of understanding about how work impacts others.   When we have all relevant departments in a room, we often have many “aha” moments which often help solidify the importance of the work that people do. We are able to root out inefficiencies and determine the impact on one department of changing work in another.

Let us help you do more with less waste.

Form Frenzy

Have you ever filled in a form that just didn’t make sense? Maybe you had to supply unnecessary information? Or possibly, the information you needed to fill out was scattered in various places on the form? Or the form didn’t follow the logical progression of the process. Regardless of the issue, it likely left you frustrated.

Forms are a necessary part of today’s world; and they’re everywhere. We’ve gotten more technologically advanced with PDF fillable forms and online form submissions, but have they really gotten more efficient or have we just taken the frustrations that existed with them before and transferred them to a new platform?

How many forms does your organization use on a regular basis? Are they the most efficient they can be? We have a tendency to create forms without taking the time to evaluate their intended purpose, and where they fit in a larger process, which creates frustration by those filling them in. If they are meant for your customers, frustration leads to bad impressions. Internally, wasted time also leads to frustration.

Using the Ben Graham Method to map a process gives you a clear progression to follow. Using the map to design the form ensures that you are collecting the right information, but also that you are collecting it in an order that makes sense. By looking at the whole picture, you can confirm you aren’t wasting time (yours or your customers) and that the data you collect is truly useful to your organization.

Let us help you with your forms!

Do More with Less ... Frustration

Do More with Less … Frustration

Have you ever asked multiple people to show you how to do something, and been shown several ways of doing it? Last week I blogged about doing more with less inconsistency, and this week I want to talk about how that inconsistency can lead to frustration and a negative impact on your organization.

I recently worked with an organization to help them improve their process for handling customer calls and emails for support. Part of this process involved creating a ticket in their ticket management software. In putting the Ben Graham Program in action, I worked with two individuals to map the process and ended up with two alternatives for how to create a ticket. I also discovered that they had recently hired a new staff member who was feeling confused and frustrated because he had been shown both of these methods, and now felt he had to remember two sets of instructions for completing the same task. Multiply that by the number of processes that were a day-to-day part of his job, and he was easily at risk of getting overwhelmed and frustrated unnecessarily.

When we met for analysis, we were able to dissect the two variations, and the people who were doing the work were able to discuss each step and choose the best option for the organization. It turned out that one process autofilled some of the important fields, while creating it the other way required extra manual input which increased the possibility of errors. The one process became the best practice and the basis for all future training, which helped the company to provide faster, more consistent service going forward. It was especially interesting to discover, while going through retraining, that some of the more established employees did not realize a ticket could be created in different way than how they had been taught, and were happy to be rid of the need to manually enter as much information. The benefit to the company from this new standardization ended up being huge, not just for efficiency but also for staff morale.

New employees are inundated with information; you can make their transition easier and make your organization stronger by ensuring you are following the best possible practice for each of your processes. Let us help you do more with less frustration.


Do More with Less

While this phrase naturally makes you think of doing more with less money, and that is entirely possible, the Ben Graham Program is about so many other aspects than simply money. It’s about doing more with less:

  • Resources
  • Inconsistencies
  • Frustration
  • Resistance
  • Waste

For many people, the first thing to come to mind when we are trying to save money is to cut back on resources, but that isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. Reducing frustration, inconsistencies, resistance and waste will all contribute to a more engaged and efficient organization, which in turn saves you money.

Inconsistent processes cost you money. They aren’t replicable or scalable. You need to develop the best system and then ensure that each person in your organization is following that process.

Inconsistencies can develop when everyone within an organization works in their own way. Often times this happens in companies that lack stringent training programs, as each new employee gets trained by a different person based on how that person works. Each person can put their own spin on a process and it does not take long before there are multiple versions. Having inconsistent processes can also impact reporting and oversight. For example, if different employees enter new customer information into a database in a variety of ways, or leave some fields blank, then reports produced further down the line will become inaccurate. The advantage to mapping and improving the process is not only that you can ensure consistency, but also that the map can be used to guide training which ensures all new employees follow the process consistently.

Watch for further information to come on reducing frustration, resistance and waste. In the meantime, let us help you Do More with Less Inconsistencies. 

Success doesn't have to take forever

The following quote was from a project I did in January: mapping an Incoming Hardware Processing Process... new equipment coming in that needed work done on it before delivery to a client.

“Mapping out the process behind the work orders has helped to not only identify trouble spots, but to separate the boundaries of where my responsibility ends and where it should be transferred to others. This has helped me to not only cut down the amount of work involved in each order, but it has also given our team a better framework to take ownership of tasks. It also means faster turnaround time on hardware for our clients and ends the risk of having orders becoming forgotten and sitting for too long.
The whole process was quick to map out my tasks, and the ability to see my job laid out in a visual format helped give me the framework I needed to explain the details of what my job entails to my coworkers. The knowledge that came out of this has been invaluable to the understanding that helps us work as an integrated team.” David, purchasing agent

For this project, I mapped the process with the purchasing agent and then met with everyone involved in the process. Prior to this session, there was confusion regarding ownership of various parts of the procedure, which lead to a breakdown. After studying the map we prepared, we developed a simple method which would create a ticket using their existing ticketing program so that progress could be tracked. We also empowered the right people at the right time to manage their part of the process and therefore hold others accountable.  Some of the changes were so simple that they were able to implement those almost immediately.

I checked back in with them recently to see how everything was going... everyone was happy and there was a definite sense of relief. Work orders were coming back fully complete and equipment turnaround time had decreased significantly, improving their customer service.

In contrast to many consulting approaches that can take months to develop recommendations and then implement, the Ben Graham Program is able to walk you through developing recommendations and getting approval very quickly. Simple ones can then be implemented swiftly.

To see how we can help your organization, join us for a workshop, or allow us to come work with you!

Welcome to our blog!

Welcome to the Ben Graham Program blog, a new feature to highlight the human side of business process improvement. One of the fundamental philosophies of the Ben Graham Program that speaks to me the most is the “respect for the dignity of people and work.”  We thought our website, rather than just being about the nuts and bolts of our process, should reflect that same human side.

First a bit about me. Honestly, a year ago I was like many of you who are visiting this website for the first time. I didn’t know anything about Ben Graham, and had never heard of the Ben Graham Program. But I had spent much of my career working on process improvement informally, both as a teacher and a business manager. What a revelation to be introduced to an established system that consistently works. The first time I heard a story of the Ben Graham methodology in action, I was sold. Our client wanted to grow their membership 500% but their coordinator was at capacity. With the existing process, they would have had to hire several more staff to handle the increased volume. Instead, applying the Ben Graham Program allowed them to streamline their membership management processes so much that the coordinator herself felt she could handle the growth with no additional hiring required.

Since then, I have witnessed firsthand the effect on people... in management and on the front lines… the looks on their faces when it all just clicks and they realize they have the power to make the necessary changes.

I want to share these stories with you. As a former teacher, I know it’s not enough to just tell you what we do… I’d like to show you, to share the success stories, and to give examples of the profound effect that a well-structured proven process improvement program can have.

You can actually do more with less… less time, less waste, less resistance, less stress.

I look forward to sharing the coming journey with you.

Jacquie Surgenor
Director, Ben Graham Program