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Case Studies

Some examples of workflow problems we've solved for companies

Graphic Design and Corporate Identity Firm

   Productivity Challenge     This busy design studio had trouble tracking details of jobs. With multiple designers on the same account, clients' change requests were often not relayed to the correct person in a timely fashion. In addition, the difficulty of finding files on the server sometimes forced employees to re-do work. In all the confusion, client work sometimes had to be re-done and deadlines were missed.

   Our Solution and Results     We studied the studio's workflow, then designed a user-friendly but comprehensive job ticket along with checklists for pre-press and pre-billing. Job status can now be seen at a glance, and it's clear who is responsible for what. Wasted staff time and missed deadlines have been dramatically reduced.

Real Estate Training Academy

   Productivity Challenge     Presenting continuing education courses for real estate brokers involved a huge amount of detail. The Academy's manager needed to keep her database up-to-date for mailings, handle registration and payments, verify attendees' license numbers, issue certificates of completion, and file reports with the state. An inefficient legacy system had been computerized, and the poorly-designed registration form caused data entry errors. The client was using Act! software, which was the right software for the job but had not been properly customized. Due to all these glitches, each employee invented his own system, which only added to the confusion.

   Our Solution and Results     We re-designed the registration form to reduce data-entry errors, added the needed fields to Act! software, and created checklists for course preparation. We also prepared a procedures manual to ensure consistent methods were used by all staff. This saved many hours of wasted effort each month and made the seminars run much more smoothly.

Publisher of Newspaper and Books

   Productivity Challenge     The staff was spending excessive time trouble-shooting customer orders and inquiries. We uncovered issues such as poorly-designed website order forms that allowed customers to place an order without providing all the needed information. Help requests, whether on website or by telephone, went into a general box and were forwarded multiple times before reaching the correct employee, and the resulting delays made customers even more unhappy.

   Our Solution and Results     We re-designed the web site's order and customer service pages. We also changed the voice mail system to ensure that customer inquiries went quickly to the correct department. Customer satisfaction increased, complaints were greatly reduced, and employee morale improved.

Dealer in Antique Gold and Gems

   Productivity Challenge     Keeping records in a business where no two inventory items are alike is a real challenge. Many items come in mixed lots, no two pieces are alike, and every gem needs to be individually evaluated, priced, and cleaned and/or repaired. Then the pieces go into inventory until they are sold or consigned. Each item had multiple forms to capture all this information, as it moved from intake to repair to inventory to sale to payment. This system was both time-intensive and error-prone.

   Our Solution and Results     After analyzing the business's workflow, we designed one form that captures all the needed information, replacing 6 forms with one comprehensive form that does it all. Our new system saved hours of employee time each week, ensured that pieces were no longer "lost" in inventory, and ensured that sale prices reflected actual costs of acquiring and repairing each piece.

Food Importer and Supplier to Private Label Customers

   Productivity Challenge     This company receives a customer's logo, creates a 'dummy' of the new packaging, and upon receiving customer approval prints the logo on the packages, then fulfills the order. They needed a more systematic way to track this complex order process. They also needed to organize prospect information so the sales staff could spend less time hunting down phone numbers, and more time landing new customers. The company database was in Access - not the right choice as it lacked email, CRM and task-management features.

   Our Solution and Results     We researched and selected an integrated software package that would track prospecting, sales, fulfillment, and also interface with accounting. Working with the programmer and web designer, we supervised the installation and customization of the new software, as well as the data migration process. With this new streamlined information system, days were shaved off the order fulfillment time, and the sales force's close rate improved significantly.

Representation for Commercial Tenants

   Productivity Challenge     The company used numerous similar- looking documents as templates which it customized for various clients. The documents were very lengthy and the office was fast-paced, so proof-reading was sometimes done too hastily. On two occasions, employees sent a client the wrong document, inadvertently exposing another client's confidential information - causing the firm embarrassment, and a risk of legal action.

   Our Solution and Results     After doing a work flow analysis, we established new document management procedures which included protocols for naming, saving, and managing files. We also made format changes to documents so templates can be easily distinguished from each other. This cured the problem of the wrong documents being sent, and greatly reduced stress for the company president and employees alike.

Financial Planner

   Productivity Challenge     This planner did not have time for business development and was barely able to keep up with her existing client work. Client data was stored in the computer in a random fashion. She had no system for following up with prospects and clients, so opportunities fell through the cracks. Her over-reliance on paper made things take longer than they should.

   Our Solution and Results     We trained her to use Outlook to systematically capture client details such as age, zip code, and number of children. Being able to quickly search and sort helps her more efficiently serve her clients. We suggested she stop the time-consuming practice of photocopying and postal-mailing articles of interest to clients and prospects, and begin sending them electronically instead. These changes freed up about three hours a week - time she can finally devote to business development activities.

Public Relations Firm

   Productivity Challenge     The firm's principal wanted all his information at his fingertips so he could be productive despite constant travel. He needed detailed contact information for clients and prospects, as well as his calendar and task list, to fully sync from Microsoft Outlook to his smartphone - yet his bundled sync software only allowed a mere 15 categories and it truncated his notes. Setting up meetings while on the road was difficult if he couldn't remember what trade show he met a prospect at or what they discussed, and the details he needed were back at the office.

   Our Solution and Results
    We analyzed the client's needs, then researched, selected and installed a more robust handheld syncing program to accommodate the dozens of Outlook categories the client needed. With all his information now portable, he can easily communicate and schedule meetings with prospects and clients, wherever he is in the world.

Law Firm #1

   Productivity Challenge     A senior partner was chronically late submitting his timesheets, which caused delays in billing the firm's clients. Our inquiry revealed that this computer-savvy attorney was disciplined about tasks that involved the computer, but he often misplaced his paper timesheets. In addition, his illegible handwriting forced the billing clerk to come back to him with questions, introducing further delays in billing.

   Our Solution and Results     We designed a new timesheet in Excel, which the attorney leaves open on his computer all day so he cannot misplace it. The new digital timesheet also obviates his handwriting problem, so the billing clerk no longer needs to come back to him for clarification. This new timesheet has saved so much time that it's been adapted firm-wide, and the firm's cash flow has been dramatically improved as a result.

Law Firm #2

   Productivity Challenge     The firm's failure to bill clients for appropriate expenses was costing the firm revenue. Their system required recording expenses twice - first in the client files, then again into TimesSlips software. The firm had tried assigning these tasks to various employees, but it was so time-consuming that often expenses were simply not captured. These expenses were being absorbed, rather than passing them along to clients for reimbursement.

   Our Solution and Results     After analyzing available staff time and office workflow, we found a simple solution - move an underused computer into the mailroom to facilitate one-step entry of messenger, fax, and copy charges. With the time required to track and enter client expenses cut in half, the firm's reimbursement rate dramatically improved, plugging a significant revenue leak.

Law Firm #3

   Productivity Challenge     An attorney had trouble focusing, she was spending too much time trying to decide what to do next and wasting time looking for papers. She used Microsoft Outlook, but because Outlook's calendar views did not suit her, she also used a paper calendar and the traditional Lawyers Diary. Having her schedule in 3 different places made it difficult to prioritize and plan her day. It also posed a risk of scheduling two appointments at the same time. In addition, her desk was disorganized because she had a great many open matters and no systematic way for organizing these files.

   Our Solution and Results     We created a custom view for the Outlook calendar to suit her needs. This enabled her to drop the Lawyer's Diary and the paper calendar. With one calendar, she can now see everything at a glance and can prioritize more easily. We also created a system to organize papers for active matters. As a result she is more focused, spends less time looking for notes and more time getting the work done, and has reduced stress.

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