The Challenge 

Our client was a Department of Energy agency. One of the divisions within the client sought to improve its customer satisfaction rating, which was based on a combination of timeliness and quality for a wide variety of services performed. Client leadership wanted to improve the rating to more than 90% of customer respondents being satisfied with the services provided by the division.

The Strategy 

The client chartered a project to utilize the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) process to reduce the cycle time to complete customer work orders. Management Solutions personnel facilitated the effort of a cross-functional team consisting of management and front-line maintenance staff.

One issue identified early in the Define phase was misunderstanding and inconsistency in measuring cycle time. Different work groups used different definitions (i.e., when did the clock start, when did the clock stop, etc.) to calculate cycle time. Some groups included all work, while other groups excluded certain jobs due to circumstances out of their control (such as unavailability of spare parts, customer requested work dates, etc).

After standardizing the operational definition of cycle time, the Analysis phase began with process mapping, identification of process waste and other barriers to successfully perform work in a timely manner. Multiple perspectives of the actual process were incorporated into a unified “future‐state” process that the team members and management agreed upon. Two issues identified by all the participants were the lack of an adequate scheduling tool and the lack of a reliable means to identify work in different phases of processing (new, ready to work, in progress, completed, etc).

The Outcome 

To remove the two specific areas of concern, the team developed and implemented a scheduling tool with multiple “views of work” to determine the best routing and assignment of division personnel to work orders. The scheduling tool also allowed the work groups to identify work in different phases of the work process. The scheduling tool provided an efficient means for workload analysis and provided management the ability to balance resources across organizational boundaries. Standard reports for feedback of the cycle time metric were also developed for timely performance feedback and comparison of best practices between groups performing similar work.

As a result, client teams were more efficient in processing work requests through the planning and scheduling phases of the process. The cycle time between the average work order creation date and work completion date was reduced from 9 business days to 3 business days. Customer satisfaction for timeliness of maintenance work increased to over 90%. In conjunction, over 95% of respondents indicated that they were satisfied with the overall services provided by the division.