As a performance improvement and change consultant, I am contacted by business leaders when something or someone is perceived to be lacking. After an initial intake and exchange of information, my first question is often, “Should things change?” or sometimes, “Are you ready for change?”
If the answer is yes, I strive to help them do just that.
My posts here at The Chariot Group are about my “ah ha” moments as they relate to how The Chariot Group, and the various products and services they offer, can improve communication and collaboration. There have been many such moments during my tenure here!
This post, however, was inspired by a memory of my client’s “ah ha” moments.
First, some backstory:
I do “process improvement” work.
The “process” for “process improvement” is this:
1. Flow out current process, in detail, identifying when decisions are made, when paper is created, when approvals are needed, when wait times are necessary, etc.
2. Identify how many times the process occurs each year.
3. Measure the process in terms of time it takes and the quality of the output.
4. Quantify the cost associated with the process, which would include labor costs, physical resources, spatial resources, etc.
5. Brainstorm on ways to improve and propose a new process.
6. Train applicable stakeholders and implement changes.
7. Measure and quantify the new process to compare the differences.
Now, here’s how the client’s “ah ha” moments came to be:
One day, I was speaking to a client who was interested but weary of making an investment with me until they were “convinced” the outcomes were beneficial. I suggested that we start with a small, encapsulated process first. The client agreed and a few weeks later, had identified such a process they believed to be inefficient: the “room scheduling process.”
The process started when a need for a room was identified, and ended when the meeting occurred.
The client had a total of 13 rooms in four different buildings that were used by all employees. In addition, business partners and subsidiary company employees used the rooms. All rooms and their schedules were managed by one employee, who I will refer to as E1; E1 used MS Office to schedule the rooms.
On the face, the process appeared relatively simple:
- E1 received calls or emails from individuals requesting to use a room.
- E1 would look up the room’s availability and book it if possible. If this occurred via phone, it was quick. If it occurred via email, it took a bit longer, which often resulted in conflicts.
- At the end of each work day, E1 would create an MS word document depicting the reservations for the next day. This document communicated who reserved the room, his/her contact number, the subject of the meeting/event, and when the reservation was made.
- Each morning, E1 taped the schedule to each room’s door.
- E1 would make a trip back to the room to change the paper if the schedule changed throughout the day.
This process, when flowed out in detail, was 32 individual process steps. The process step that included posting the schedules on each door of the room was timed at approximately 12 minutes (direct round-trip route).
An analysis of the process revealed these problems and/or inefficiencies:
- Posting the documents on room doors often took more than 30 minutes and sometimes nearly an hour.
- Schedules would change, on an average, three times per day. (E1 would change the paper on door.)
- Papers on doors often disappeared. (Guess what, E1 would replace it.)
- The company spent significant amounts of money for paper disposal (it was burned) due to what they perceived as risk.
- Sometimes, too many people showed up for a meeting and there wasn’t room for all of them. They would call E1 and last-minute shuffling would begin.
- E1 didn’t necessarily “mind” the work but nonetheless, spent nearly half of the workday “in this process.”
- Nearly everyone who offered an opinion on the process articulated a desire and need for something better. (They were frustrated with and sometimes even embarrassed by their rudimentary system.)
I know what you’re thinking.
- You’re thinking this event occurred many years ago. You’d be wrong; this was in 2014.
- You’re thinking E1 was an intern or someone with very limited job duties and responsibilities and, likewise, was receiving a wage commensurate to those duties. You’d be wrong; E1 was a supervisor with a loaded labor rate of about $62 per hour.
- You’re now thinking this company was uniquely ridiculous. You’d be wrong; this company is like your (most) company.
Actually, it is like any company who hasn’t yet imagined a better way of doing things.
Thankfully, the “process” of “process improvement” encourages people to imagine a better way of doing things. Hence, when I asked this team, “Should you change?”, the room became pretty darn active.
Many solutions were offered but only one of them could solve nearly every problem or inefficiency identified: Digital Room Signage.
Just as email totally disrupted the external and “inter-office” mail processes in the 80s, Digital Room Scheduling Signage has wonderfully disrupted an archaic room scheduling process.
Digital Room Signage often offers:
- Direct scheduling of rooms via the client’s own network (Said another way, if a company uses MS Office, Google Calendar, ICalendar, etc., the system can too.)
- “Walk up” room scheduling (meaning a user can do it directly at the touch panel outside the room)
- Inter-connectivity among rooms (meaning that if one room is booked, the system will suggest other rooms that are available)
- Electronic reminder systems
- Meeting check-in, business rules, and abandoned meeting tracking
- Internal communication (meaning it can be used to publish content, announcements, RSS feeds, etc.)
- TOTAL elimination of paper
- TOTAL elimination of time spent physically posting room schedules
Digital Room Signage can also offer:
- Occupancy sensors so if the room is unoccupied during a scheduled time or occupied during an open time, the system will change the status accordingly.
- Multi-language support
- Streaming video or web browsing from the touch panel
- Audio feedback
While The Chariot Group only has three rooms that are used by less than 40 employees, Digital Room Signage has been a Godsend to us and our administrative staff, saving both physical and human resources, as well preserving sanity of those who use the rooms!
We work with some terrific manufacturers of cutting edge, versatile, scalable and affordable Digital Signage Room Solutions!
Do me a favor, ask yourself just how much time, energy and frustration your company experiences in scheduling and managing conference rooms and then ask yourself this:
“Should we change?”
If the answer is yes, give us a call.