What is this thing called 9Stucks?
9Stucks is a dynamic business diagnostic tool. It identifies nine distinct yet interrelated business challenges that cause a company to underperform.

Stuck in the Rough: Is Your Company Overgrown With Weeds?

Growth is great, but not when unchecked growth sprouts weeds in your company’s halls, cubicles and production space.

I recently worked with the CEO (Rob) of a company (ServiceCo) that provides outsourced business transaction services to large corporations.  Rob should have been ecstatic with his record level order backlog.  Carefree, happy days were ahead!

But Rob wasn’t happy. He was pretty glum and for good reason. Two factors created the huge backlog:

  1. lots of new orders (great)
  2. the company’s collection of clogged operational practices worked against timely order completion/shipping. It was taking forever to get an order out (not great).

ServiceCo was infested with weeds; they were Stuck in the Rough. Why?

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What is this thing called 9Stucks?
9Stucks is a dynamic business diagnostic tool. It identifies nine distinct yet interrelated business challenges that cause a company to underperform.

Part 4: Go with the Flow(charting)

 

This is the fourth post in The 9Stucks Boot Camp Series.  The third post (‘Logjam and the 80/20 Rule’) identified StorageCo’s two most pressing challenges:

  1. a business model that generated unnecessary complexity, added costs and caused tension throughout the company and the leadership team
  2. plants, equipment, and processes that were old and inefficient
This post will cover the inefficient processes found throughout the company.

What is a Sideways Review?

A Sideways Review was something I did with a team at StorageCo. Years ago a sideways review was called flowcharting; flowcharting was replaced with re-engineering. One of the current terms for understanding the effectiveness of systems and processes is lean manufacturing.

When trying to understand the linkages among business processes within a company, the analysis work should investigate the Ins, the Outs, and Everything in Between. In other words, what activities does it take to book an order, book a consulting project, etc., and then get the product or service made and shipped.

How did we organize the Sideways Review?

We set up a cross-functional project team from the company, got some big rolls of brown paper, hung the sheets of paper on the walls and started to document all the processes at the company. Remember this project was done a number of years ago; ‘brown paper’ was state of the art!

The following chart shows how we organized the overall operations; these were divided up to facilitate that detailed, ‘horizontal’ review of the company. There were four main segments:

  • order processing
  • production planning
  • production
  • distribution

These four sections were then broken down into even more detail.

Notice how this graphic is organized by PROCESS layers (or MAJOR FUNCTIONS), not by DEPARTMENT. The company had many long-standing departments that were contained both within each of these process steps and departments that overlapped the process steps. Given this was a very old company, their organizational structure seemed to be put together more like additions being attached to an old house rather than like an organized remoldeling effort.

StorageCo had a tremendous number of large and small process issues that needed to be changed, eliminated, or replaced with better technology.  They also had ongoing, quality breakdowns in most areas of the plant.

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