Phonovation is Ireland’s largest Automated Voice and Business SMS software provider. In 2016 we processed in excess of 150 million calls and text messages. We are the market leaders in our field and use this position to constantly strive for the maximum possible Return on Investment for our customers. We provide innovative solutions using great technology and our high standards have been recognised with Microsoft Silver Partnership status.
Quote – “Our Lean experience has had a dramatic effect on our culture, our staff and our bottom line. We are getting through 2.2 times more work with the same team which has given me the confidence to expand. We will have grown the team 40% by the end of this year with increased profitability and a more robust technical and operation offering. We have opened a UK office with a full-time sales person there and are engaging with a Global Mobile Operator on a multi country SAAS offering. This has only been possible through our engagement with Lean and its enthusiastic implementation from everyone in Phonovation“
Lean Plus Project Objectives
- DevOps lead time improvement
- DevOps Standardisation and cross skilling
- Reduce Waste in DevOps
- Introduce Lean into the Wider Company
- Establish a culture of continuous improvement
The main challenges encountered 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.
- Introduced a monthly whole company Operations Review
- Introduced weekly queue replenishment meetings and business ownership of prioritisation of work
Aligned to the objectives :
- DevOps Throughput has more than doubled.
- The “teach not do” experiment has shared the knowledge of core systems across the teams and reduced the dependency on critical resources.
- 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
- 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.
- 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