Phonovation, Ireland’s largest Automated Voice and Business SMS software provider, carried out a leanplus assignment and are the 100th case study to be published on Lean Business Ireland Web Portal

The main challenges encountered by the company were:

  • A self-acknowledged, deeply ingrained resistance to change
  • The pace of learning and improvement of processes has been a challenge for Phonovation – sometimes this caused confusion. Constant re-enforcement of Lean Principles has been needed. Wider education and application recommended.
  • Conflicts of Interest between departments, recommended the company establish a clear “True North” not just within but across departments

 As a result of the LeanPlus assignment the company introduced the following key changes:

1)            Introduced a monthly whole company Operations Review

2)            Introduced weekly queue replenishment meetings and business ownership of prioritisation of work

 The Outcomes of the LeanPlus assignment are:

1)            DevOps Throughput has more than doubled.

2)            The “teach not do” experiment has shared the knowledge of core systems across the teams and reduced the dependency on critical resources.

3)            As a result of making the devops capacity allocation visible, and committing to refocusing capacity to project work, reallocation and waste saving has been put in place to substantially increase the DevOps capacity to deliver projects

4)            Wider Company. Lean Plus has introduced a monthly Operational Review where all the departments in the company share key metrics, progress and discuss areas for improvement. This has brought a shared awareness of key business challenges and improvements, and started the process of collaboration across boundaries to solve business challenges.

5)            Culture of continuous improvement

In addition to the established PDCA / Experiment approach by DevOps – Lean Plus has introduced a formal monthly improvement Kata to drive Continuous Improvement (along with the Ops Review above)

One staff member presented improvements aligned to observed wastes and their reduction:

 Transportation and Waste

The fine tuning of how we work has done away with most of the unnecessary movement of people within and between processes. There is now far less need for people to “doorstep” and interrupt work as there is a means to achieve what they may require or to gather information that they may need.

 Inventory

The introduction of the projects room and queue replenishment meetings means that only the work with the most value added is given the required resources and time. There is very little work undertaken, or at times even accepted as worthwhile, which will not meet the specific goals that the company has at that moment.

 Waiting

The pre-scoping process has led to an increased understanding of which resources will be required to finish a project. This in turn has meant that there is very little waiting for one skill set to be applied to a project before the next skill set is applied. The projects are not started unless we know the requisite resources/skill sets are in place to finish it.

 Over Processing, Over Production, Defects

We are no longer trying to always produce sooner/faster. There is a more realistic expectation of how long it will take to deliver a project that has inbuilt stability and value to the customer. We have also started to standardise some of our products which will lead to quicker turn around for the customer without loss of quality, as the standardised version has a track record of reliability. The more considered approach to each project has also led to less bugs and issues which in turn means that there is less need for reworking and gives more time to start new work.

 8th Waste: wasted potential of people

The idea of “teach not do” has increased the shared knowledge across the team and this means that team members are fulfilling more of their potential. The continuation of this will also lead to an unburdening of those in the team that may have a lot more to offer with regards to strategic planning and researching of new technologies to keep us ahead of our competitors.

Experimentation and continuous Improvement

Our experiments have led us to refinements in our processes and work practices. We may need to be a little more radical with them in the future but the “idea” of experimentation is now prevalent. When it comes to experiments there is no such thing as a failure……………..We win or we learn.

Everything that we do now is motivated by getting better at how we:

  • structure the work to be carried out
  • actually carry out the work
  • and ultimately deliver better value to our customers.

We still have a way to go to be anywhere near perfect but we cannot let perfect be the enemy of good, or in the words of Robert Browning :

“… a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”

Additional Benefits, as observed by Phonovation Staff

  • Identified and eliminated wastes
  • Experimentation has led to better processes
  • Striving towards continuous improvement
  • Improved Coordination, Communication and Team Work
  • We have created metrics that allow us to track and measure a good part of the work
  • Work is visible and its progress as well
  • Rules implemented shaped the behaviour between other departments and DevOps
  • We are actually delivering more
  • We have moved from poor to positive performance in a relatively short period of time
  • We have Lean engagement in every department / aspect of the business
  • We are meeting the challenge of implementing Lean within existing workloads / mindsets
  • We now have a clear understanding of sources of demand and are moving towards data driven decisions, rather than reactive / anecdotal
  • Faster delivery of quotes and finished products
  • More systematic query resolution and more accurate expectations

More Information

View Phonovation Lean Plus Case Study

LEAN in EUROPE visits to Ireland – EU-Japan Centre  16th Lean in Europe visit to Phonovation and Topflight Travel group 4 – 5 December 2017

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