Case Study : Market Research Company Experiment in Excellence
This global company is ranked among the top 5 research company in the world. Externally, competition is very intense and the costs of doing business are rising. Internally, productivity level at the operations level greatly varied across the regions it operated in and nowhere close to achieving the targeted productivity level.
With such challenging scenarios, the Global Management Team realized that they need to do things differently, constantly improve the management and operations system. They have heard of the concept of Lean Thinking and are unsure of the relevancy and applicability in their service environment. It is with great caution that the decision was made to check out the Lean Thinking concept and a Global Senior Manager was send to attend the 9-day Lean Expert training programme.
Getting acquainted with the Lean Thinking concepts and tools was challenging. But as the concepts and lean tools are being expounded in the service environment, it is clearly applicable. It can be used in the market research environment to achieve service and operational excellence. Decisions were communicated and made to the Global Management Team to kick off the lean implementation with a Lean Event pilot project focusing on productivity enhancement.
The same training / consultant provider was commissioned to facilitate the pilot project. An implementation team was set-up to work together with the consultant. Current baseline information were gathered and analysed. Productivity level averaged about 60% of targeted output. There was no customer demand and work capability analysis being carried out. As a result, there was constant requisition of additional manpower to fulfil demand.
Together the team worked on to identify wastes and was involved in the activities of:
- Determining work nature and its timing
- Analyse customer demand - peak and valley
- Establish takt time and rightsizing manpower
- Balance and re-distribute job loading evenly
- Standardize the work to eliminate variability
- Introduce daily accountability process
- Establish process capabilities and capacities
After 6 months of implementation, the results were conclusive and amazing. Productivity level was able to reach 100% level consistently. Manpower hiring was put on hold unless it is a new project. Long overtime work hours were gradually reduced and associates morale improved. Once the pilot project was stable and achieving its desired results, implementation was replicated to other product groups as well. The model that was established was not only applied in local operations, but was also replicated to the global offices and has also gained acceptance and success.
At the completion of the pilot projects, the local management team were sold on the benefits of the Lean Thinking programme. As a result, the local Malaysian team was selected as the role model for other global offices to emulate in terms of its productivity level and understanding of customer demands.
In conclusion, from such successful case study, Lean Thinking works and it’s concepts of wastes elimination and application of specific lean tools can be applied in any kind of industries and work environment. The challenge is to find the right tools and techniques to areas where they are most needed.