Having a Coordination Map is one of the most powerful assets when delivering excellent service in environments where resolution requires hand-offs to other teams or third parties, particularly in the domain of reactive maintenance, where the type and volume of demand is unpredictable.

The Coordination Map will reveal blockages in the flow, ‘dropped balls’ misdirection. The consequences of these problems also become very clear.

Here’s an example where apparent simple customer requests, were actually causing delivery problems, and serious customer dissatisfaction.

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Customer Services – Understanding the Flow

The Background

In utilities, many customer issues need a specialist to visit their property and carry out work. There are thousands of reactive site works carried out each day by engineers - from locating meters, connecting services,  through to repairing major bursts or supply interrupts. Customers were lodging requests with this service provider, who in turn arranged for the relevant specialists to attend the customer’s site. Sounds like a relatively straightforward appointment scheduling-to-resolution approach, However, engineers frequently found that the nature and scope of the work changed once they got to site - they couldn’t find the location, couldn’t locate the asset, access denied, extent of works much greater than required, and so on. The result was multiple visits, extended resolution time, unsatisfactory work, backlogs of incomplete tasks, and seriously dissatisfied customers . The service manager relied on third party engineers, and was frustrated with the way things worked, and needed to resolve blockages and inefficiencies in what seemed like a straightforward working arrangement. And the third party bottom line was being eroded by repeat visits.

What We Did.

We undertook a rapid diagnosis, design and mobilisation approach, involving coordination flow mapping, scheduling alignment, and MI visibility.

The first step was to understand the As-Is workflow. We closely monitored the AsIis activities, and constructed a Coordination Flow map, highlighting where there were gaps in coordination. This first step provides the foundation for implementing good service - establishing where flow breaks down, or assumptions around what people are doing predominate (usually subordinating what should be being done!).

 Secondly, we tracked in detail several customer requests through to resolution, identifying where information flow, standards or practices did not support the completion of the task. We could now map the collateral flow and material flow onto the Coordination Map, highlighting a number of breakdowns in the flow. We could quickly see that the degree of variation in time that would be taken to carry out the remedial work rendered a single average time pretty well meaningless; not unusual in a reactive service domain. Se we remodelled the scheduling approach based on heijunke principles to provide a more realistic delivery timetable. 

Using this information we were able to prepare a new design - which in this case was just the As-Is with the coordination gaps corrected - and implement new standards and practices as part of the coordination. Mobilising this, supporting the staff with on-the-job training, significantly improved resolution, and margins.

The Outcomes

The new process and practices provided the manager with the control needed to give customers a realistic expectation that could be met, and allowed intervention in the individual, exceptional cases.

 

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Process Coordination Specialists