Successful Bid Proposal to Product Manufacture

Successful Bid Proposal to Product Manufacture

If you operate the type of organization that requires you to bid on work, you need to know how to compete the entire process successfully from bid to engineering to manufacture. This process is as much an art as a science, and cannot be taken lightly.  Just winning the bid is not enough.  The entire process must be completed in order to establish customer loyalty through the proof of competence, confidence and professionalism.

Making balanced decisions while transitioning from proposal to engineering and production is a concept to be kept in the forefront of any organization's mind.

Making balanced decisions while transitioning from proposal to engineering and production is a concept to be kept in the forefront of any organization’s mind.

In many cases organizations tend to focus on the bidding phase in this process.  Making the bid stand out from all the others is an important aspect of conducting a successful business transaction, but knowing how to manage the transition from winning the proposal to successfully producing the product is paramount.

There are three key areas to consider when approaching an entire process like this.  These are the understanding your customer priorities, managing the conflict in customer requirements and operations capabilities, along with providing for a seamless transition across the organization’s functional silo.

Capture customer priorities

In any process, organizations must capture customer priorities in a way that assures continued focus.  In many instances meeting customer priorities is defined as meeting customer needs and providing superior value.  In many ways this can be as simple as developing an approach to defining customer needs or requirements and translating them into specific plans to produce products to meet those needs.

Direct discussion or interviews, surveys, focus groups, going over customer specifications, and reviewing observation are a variety of ways to learn an organization’s priorities. These sorts of exercises can uncover the real or ‘root’ needs of customers.  This understanding of the customer needs can even be summarized in a product planning matrix. A matrix such as this can then be translated into higher level wants pointing at lower level product requirements or technical characteristics. In this way, the customer’s needs can effectively be satisfied.

Transition smoothly from proposal to engineering and production

Making balanced decisions while transitioning from proposal to engineering and production is a concept to be kept in the forefront of any organization’s mind.  Using a methodology that will support and advance the decision-making process across the life of the project is ideal.  Knowing the capabilities of your engineering function and your production function when applying this decision-making methodology will make the whole process better.  Not to mention that having this in mind during the bidding process will make that step much easier.

The greatest significance of having some sort of methodology in mind, when making decisions is that it provides a structure to guide organizations through an entire process. Criteria must be identified and considered systematically in the whole process. This will also visibly show and identify any pitfalls you may experience in the project.

Align a manufacturing plan

Integrating the many functional viewpoints into an aligned manufacturing plan is key to any successful project.  The need for the alignment of engineering and manufacturing with areas such as IT is absolutely necessary.  As the landscape becomes more competitive, companies must be more responsive to change.

There are many different methodologies and models to use as a guide for alignment.  As always, an organization must consider the culture of its workforce. Cross-functional teamwork must be reached in order to develop any successful manufacturing plan.  The right methodology can be applied to accomplish this.  Having a thorough understanding of all areas in an organization including business and IT functions can facilitate alignment.

These areas kept at the forefront when tackling any project is helpful. Creating proactive ways to manage the integration of bidding, engineering and operations of an entire process is important.  This will promote customer satisfaction when your organization delivers successfully on a project.  It also promotes departmental harmony, effective and efficient organizational operations, and an organization’s future growth.






Obtaining Profitability and Executability When Bidding Complex System Jobs

Road mapping the process “as is” and then brainstorming unique and varied solutions can be very beneficial when planning complex jobs.

Road mapping the process “as is” and then brainstorming unique and varied solutions can be very beneficial when planning complex jobs.

When bidding complex manufacturing jobs whether a factory process or administration process, such as coding, it is important to keep a few things in mind to increase profit margins.  Understanding the client, the job and the tools needed in bidding jobs can drastically improve the profitability of your organization.

Using the tools learned via operational excellence to confront the challenges inherent in any complex system can help overcome any adversity. Road mapping, value stream mapping and many other improvement concepts can make bidding each job one that is successful and profitable.

The key when planning and quoting is identifying the most common challenges and applying the proper tools.  Some fact-finding about the nature of the issues being faced and uncovering root causes can lead to the empowerment to discuss and address these issues.

One of the challenges encountered in any complex process is often the use of a single process to accomplish it.  The desire to simplify things often has unintended consequences.  Complex processes often require multiple approaches.  This is where organizational excellence concepts and tools come in handy.  Road mapping the process and then brainstorming unique and varied solutions can be very beneficial when planning complex jobs.

Another pitfall people often fall into is assuming that the customer actually knows what to tell you so that you can properly quote and bid on a complex item. Customers notoriously say they want one thing, but require something different.  The use of continuous improvement tools allows you to give them what they actually want.  It also allows you to do it in a manner that actually meets their needs without it being over or under engineered on your side.  These tools allow you the ability to hit on the exact amount of work needed to complete the job without bidding too much or too little. This only increases your profitability.

Finally, silo thinking in some organizations around doing bidding and quoting has many unintended consequences that show up later. This thinking is an attitude found in some organizations that occurs when several departments or groups do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals. Silo thinking reduces efficiency and reduces accountability for the results of a project.  Once again the tools of operational excellence can help this situation along.  These tools promote the sharing of information in an attempt to let the group function as a team thereby reducing misaligned objectives and helping you bid successfully.

Recognizing these situations and applying operational excellence thinking can provide solutions and roadmaps to solving these three big challenges. It helps diagnose the root causes of the issues the organization faces. It often creates and facilitates dialogue to help develop successful solutions and shows the way to implement those solutions.

By doing so the bidding process for complex jobs is easily defined and can lead to success in the job and success in your organization. It ultimately comes down to the ability to do your analysis to determine the relative profitability and executability associated with the jobs you™re bidding. It allows you to do it properly and efficiently.

— o —

Revealed – The Unintended Consequences Of A Single Approach To Quoting Complex Manufacturing Products. Free Webinar on May 21, 2014. 12 Noon ET.

Profitability for Complex Manufacturing lies in producing products the customer wants at a price that consistently yields high profit margins; and knowing before you accept the order it will erode your profit margins.

This month’s MetaExpert Webinar series is all about QUOTE TO ORDER and how to evaluate your process for optimal profits. Join us and benefit from this 55-minute Free Webinar from one the worlds top Operational Excellence Thought Leaders and Keynote Speakers, Ron Crabtree or MetaOps.

This webinar REVEALS how to:

1. Identify if your Quote to order system is losing you money.
2. Uncover solutions to challenges in your quote to order process.
3. Measure return on investment. If you improved the quote to order process.
4. Simplify a complex award to order system and set specific action steps for improvement.
5. Determine if you are accepting the right business (not all sales are equal).
6. Navigate the political landscape in your organization to create a win for all.

What you will Receive:

  • 30-minute Consultation with Ron Crabtree
  • Custom Webinar
  • Appraisal
  • Receive a recording of the event
  • Receive a PDF Version of the presentation
  • Gain access to the monthly MetaOps Magazine

Join us as we help complex manufacturers uncover roots causes for lost profits; and leave empowered to lead meaningful discussions around improving your quote to order process for optimal profits.

Date: May 21, 2014 WEDNESDAY
Time: 12 Noon ET | 11 AM CT | 10 AM MT | 9 AM PT
Duration: 55 Minutes

Registration Link:


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Kim Crabtree



The Big Picture of Big Data: Why using it is imperative

by Patricia Rae Linn

Big Data 03Organizations have or have access to plenty of data that can give them extreme differentiation and competitive edge, but most companies, government agencies and not-for-profits struggle with turning data into insights that enable timely, actionable, effective and measurable strategy. Even the organizations that do optimize enterprise, machine, social and other data battle challenges that make the Big-Data-to-Intelligent-Enterprise (i.e.) translation and application undesirably slow and expensive.


By the year 2020, IDC (International Data Corporation) predicts Big Data will reach “40 zettabytes (ZB), which is 40 trillion GB of data, or 5,200 GB of data for every person on Earth.” Currently only 1% of Big Data is analyzed.[i]


The “Big Data Imperative,” for organizations is to master insight-based strategic planning and execution using whatever elements of the massive data available apply to do what they do faster and better than their competitors, and their success in doing so requires that they understand and respond to the four “Vs” of Big Data:


  • Value — It’s imperative that organizations have the ability to identify what data has value to them, where to obtain it, what the value is, how to extract and analyze that data for actionable meaning, and how to implement its use in such a way as to create a data feedback loop that measures results.
  • Volume — With billions of meaningful transactions, communications and results of processes being generated every second, anyone who intends to use Big Data must have the facility and capacity to manage the data from storage through prioritization to analysis. Speed to insight is the key to this weighty process giving the organization their desired differentiation outcomes.
  • Variety — Variety is abundant in Big Data, in both source and content as well as multi-purposability; for example, any single data string may analyze out to indicate the resulting insights apply to more than one division, process, goal, etc. of a company. Consequently, variety occurs at both the input and output stages of the data-to-insight-to-action process, and organizations must have systems in place to complete the process successfully.
  • Velocity — The speed at which data is created and comes available is nothing short of daunting to both humans and information processing machines. Those who manage data have to make fast and tough decisions about the size of data samples needed, when the data stream starts and is shut off, how much integrity it has and if it is worthy of analysis, and even whether it has been compromised in any way that might put an organization’s decision making or system health at risk.


Ultimately, every organization that takes the Big Data Imperative to heart and recognizes it is the cornerstone of future business success must become an Intelligent Enterprise (i.e.) that culminates the best practices in people, process and technology for competitive differentiation. As such, the data management professionals in successful organizations must understand, be capable of acting upon and manage fast and accurate systems that deal with the following:


Why the Imperative


Every industry and every business function within each industry is influenced daily by big data.[ii] Leaders in every sector will have to grapple with the implications of big data, not just a few data-oriented managers. [iii] (McKinsey Group)

Simply put, Big-Data-driven insight will be what drives business by 2020. For every organization the core, fundamental, four benefits of using Big Data analytics for strategy-driving insight are:


  1. Customer Growth and Retention: Data-driven insight improves organizations’ ability to identify the right customers, attract them, convert them, retain them by preempting defection, transform them into brand ambassadors that sell the organization voluntarily… all by allowing company teams to hear exactly what customers want. how they want it, and what they thing of their experience with the company and reacting to tat information on a timely basis.
  2. Profitability and Sustainability: By selling the right value to the right customer the right way, every time, organizations reduce the waste of returns, unwanted inventory and doing customer dis-service damage control, increase volume, increase margins and keep products and services fresh and in demand based on customer feedback… all these profoundly and sustain-ably impact the bottom line in a positive way.
  3. Process Improvement and Change Management: Intelligent, data-driven enterprise virtually eliminates the guesswork in innovation, sales and marketing and creation of the customer experience, thereby streamlining those and other processes into ones where the pathway to the anticipated outcomes is clear, concise and the outcome results are predictable. When outcomes are clear at the outset and have inspiring dividends, and team members know what pathway will deliver them, getting them to align their efforts with the goals and processes, thus changing the ways they do things, becomes easy.
  4. Product and Service Innovation and R&D: The customer is (almost) always right. While great innovators develop products and services customers want, those consumers create data that makes their needs and desires very clear, and their disappointments tangible… a solid, communicative customer base can virtually do away with the necessity to manage and compensate high-end innovation teams.


About Big Data


  • Big Data comes from almost everything… Sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, transaction records, cell phone GPS signals, and more.
  • Each day, people create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, both intentionally and accidently; for example by  sending 1 bil. Tweets daily and 30 bil. messages on Facebook each month.
  • 90% of all data is unstructured, has a lot of noise built in, is frequently corrupted, and almost always has value.[iv] Organizations will have to have app-driven analytic infrastructures or access to them as a service.
  • Big Data Statistics[v]:
    • By 2014, 90% of Big Data was created in 2012 and 2013
    • In 2012 the Big Data market was valued at $10.2 bil.; it will be a $53 bil. market by 2017
    • 70% of Big Data is generated by people not machines
    • Organizations self-store about 80% of the data they create and use.
    • The Internet of Things experiences the addition of 570 new websites — data sources and generators — every minute of every day.
    • By 202, 33% of Big Data will be in the cloud.
    • A 10% increase in data accessibility translates into an additional $66 mil. in net income for the average Fortune 1000 company.
    • 65% of senior executives are basing management decisions on Big Data analytics insight.


Trends and Technologies


  • Data Storage/theCloud — With annual increases of 60% in data growth, storage demand is increasing too rapidly for technology to keep up. Cloud technologies, the current “big hope” for storage and dissemination of big data offers performance well below 30-minute-transfer times for 1 terabyte of data (considered good performance for single-drive read).
  • Ability to combine Big Data sets and still obtain insightful information via complex queries quickly because of increased processing capability and speed.
  • Open-source data-integration tools that allow diverse data types and sources to be blended into analysis-ready data sets of any scope.
  • “The emergence of the “industrial Internet” — GE’s term for the Internet of things — and big data platforms. The challenge, he said, is creating open platforms for ingesting and sharing high-scale data, and building applications while also ensuring security.” (Jim Fowler, CIO GE Water & Power)[vi]
  • 2014 will be the year of: What can I do with big data? rather than: What is big data? [vii]
  • Real time in-memory analytics, complex event processing and ETL will combine: Serial extract, transform, load (ETL) processes will largely go away in 2014. As the velocity of data increases, especially social data, theres more need to analyze data in real time as a stream.[viii]
  • Master data management (MDM) single-definition data, now exclusively internal, will become external as well. This data will define situations or dimensions the solve big problems.


Not Only SQL (NoSQL), developed to facilitate data analysis without strict parameters and concrete schema, will further develop into a master core system (or a few), thus consolidating NoSQL access/services.


In Summary… Business has entered and Information Imperative Age that is rooted in the massive data generated by people and the machines they use. Analyze or Atrophy is fast becoming a mantra organizations need to follow to compete on every level of business.

Join us on April 23, 12 Noon ET.

Free Webinar: How Big Data Becomes Insight for Intelligence Driven Enterprise


The Digital Universe in 2020: Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows, and Biggest Growth in the Far East by John Gantz and David Reinsel sponsored by EMC,[1] [ii] The Economist 2010, Data, data everywhere, A special report on managing information


[iv] IBM 2010,

[v] Surprising Statistics About Big Data, Dennis McCafferty, 2014,

[vi] 3 Trends Driving Big Data Breakthroughs: A CIO’s View, InformationWeek 2014,

[vii] Trends in Bg Data: A Forecast for 2014, Andy Walker, CSC,

[viii] Trends in Bg Data: A Forecast for 2014, Andy Walker, CSC,




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Getting Operations and IT to Mix

The Operations function and the IT function of most organizations are like oil and water. Due to the traditional roles these areas play, they often run into difficulty when combined on an improvement project

The Operations function and the IT function of most organizations are like oil and water. Due to the traditional roles these areas play, they often run into difficulty when combined on an improvement project

The Operations function and the IT function of most organizations are like oil and water. Due to the traditional roles these areas play, they often run into difficulty when combined on an improvement project.  It is critical that these functions work well together in order for you to achieve any success in your organization. Here are a couple of the common issues which organizations face when the Operations and the IT functions cooperate in an effort toward continuous improvement.

The first area of concern in your organization is the conflicting agendas and objectives of each function.  In most cases business operations must move very quickly. They must change business models, product / service offers and delivery of value-added activities.  Your operations people must continually improve customer care and profitability / cost controls.  The Operations department is generally aligned to the COO of your organization. This group usually sees IT as a vendor as opposed to a partner. They view IT as a road-block to innovation and speedy changes to business processes.

On the other hand, IT is often charged with managing access to your data and systems and providing the security of your information.  This is often a frustrating operation. For the most part, IT is generally aligned to the CFO in your organization.  They often function in the role of monitor and reporter. Most often they must comply with traditional accounting approaches.  IT usually sees Operations as another of your customers that they must please within your bigger objectives and plans.

In the end, this first area of concern can be narrowed down to a lack of common business objectives.  In an improvement effort, operation departments in your organization are usually tightly focused on delivery of value to the customers and reaching the bottom-line KPIs such as cost and profitability.  In contrast, your IT area tends to focus on SLAs, conformance to budgets and maintaining technical viability for all its customers, including those that are internal.

One way top management can get around this issue is by leading dialogs around creating shared objectives and shared accountability for specific business and IT outcomes.  Each area has a part to play in any opportunity.  Operations cannot develop KPIs about a certain process without IT developing an easy means of reporting this data.  In many cases, combined analysis of this data can lead to further revisions of this process and increased success.

In order to truly improve, top management in your organization must come up with strategies to lead each area in the discovery of the factors that can prevent optimal interactions between the Operations and IT functions.  Each area must be aware of the others role and pitfalls in this process and operate accordingly. The key is for both areas of expertise to act as partners in obtaining common goals.

Another issue that may confront your organization is the traditional miss-match of expectations and understanding of outcomes in both the Operations and IT areas. Many times, IT is faced with a continuing and universal problem: The demand for service always exceeds available resources by a factor of at least 2 to 1 in the short term.  It is common that due to the amount of time it takes to develop and deploy a new IT solution designed to dove-tail with an operational need that particular need will have changed before the new system becomes available.

On the other hand, your Operations department too often takes an “over-the-wall” approach to working with your internal IT organizations. This is not unlike the methods used with vendors for materials and services used by the organization to deliver its goods and services.  Your Operations department often expects the IT organization to “magically understand every nuance of its needs” and deliver services to support them.  The challenge is that because IT is not truly a”vendor”, your IT is not organized in the same manner most of your vendors are with all the marketing, sales, planning, engineering, accounting, HR and other support functions.  To be frank, this is a view you should not have.

The root cause is that this miss-matched manner of thinking results in very low or non-existent level of shared accountability in the outcomes your IT function provides to your operations function. You often have a lack of shared accountability from your IT and Operations functions for the overall outcomes. Due to Operations and IT often functioning as their own discrete entities, there is little or no incentive to work harder at the interoperability of your organization.

You may use Operational Excellence methods and techniques such as Lean Six Sigma, Value Stream Mapping, AGILE and world-class facilitation skills to build a bridge to increased co-operability between these functions.  As an example, a unified vision of the “custody of data” supported by your IT area in conjunction with the value stream mapping provided by your operations area can be very successful. A top notch leader uses a simple model for creating the alignment in thinking, language and communication shared by operations and IT.

Recognizing and addressing the basic issues of differing agendas and the miss-matched expectations inherently faced by your Operations and IT functions can help these two vital functions to mix.   Working to rectify these two issues fosters a sense of co-operability between them and is a great place to start your organization’s road to success.


Combining Operations and IT – Mixing Oil and Water with Operational Excellence For Success

Many companies struggle creating alignment of thinking, language and communications shared by Operations and IT. There are factors preventing optimal interactions between business operations and IT functions in your organization if you don’t see the results in your Operations and IT Organization efforts for improvement. Join us! – Register for a free webinar. Click Here.


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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
12 noon ET | 11am CT |
10am MT | 9am PT

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Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Gather Stakeholder Inputs

Your organization consists of much more than just your employees and managers. Clients and customers, providers, contractors and others are also included in the role of “stakeholder.” When you’re ramping up for a transformation initiative, it’s important to gather the inputs from all stakeholders, not just those who are most obvious.

Touch on topics like productivity, cost reduction, morale, diversity, product and service quality and employee turnover rates, and allow your stakeholders to address what you consider to be your most difficult situations and topics.

Touch on topics like productivity, cost reduction, morale, diversity, product and service quality and employee turnover rates, and allow your stakeholders to address what you consider to be your most difficult situations and topics.

Tools to Succeed

There are a number of tools for gathering stakeholder inputs, and many organizations will employ more than one. The “suggestion box” approach, while quick and easy for employees to submit, takes far too much time for management to review and evaluate. Instead, consider using an online survey to solicit suggestions, comments and complaints from employees, and offer your customers or clients a way to provide input in a digital format as well.

Key Components

When you’re looking for input, it’s important to remember a few key components to the most successful and useful systems. Remember to request actionable suggestions, and to use an open-ended question instead of a simple “yes / no” question format. You’ll also want to allow your stakeholders to submit their comments and ideas through an anonymous venue. That will alleviate any concerns as to speaking one’s true mind on difficult topics.

Ask the Right Questions

Put together a short list of the questions you feel would most immediately impact your organization’s policies, procedures and processes. Those questions will likely be specific to a certain type of stakeholder, with some questions designed specifically for managers, some for employees and some for clients or customers. Touch on topics like productivity, cost reduction, morale, diversity, product and service quality and employee turnover rates, and allow your stakeholders to address what you consider to be your most difficult situations and topics. You just might be surprised at what this type of input gathering reveals about your organization, its customer service and employee management style.


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Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

The Cycle of R.E.S.U.L.T.S.

Business Process Reengineering techniques are not just a fad. If you’re looking for empty corporate buzzwords, you’ve come to the wrong place, because implementing and reengineering business processes is an art and science, and creates real results. In fact, one of the best process systems out there uses the word “results” as an acronym as its base. R.E.S.U.L.T.S.

transformation initiative, change readiness state

No matter how hard you might work to implement change in your organization, there are factors that can completely derail the process and render you ineffective in your efforts

The R.E.S.U.L.T.S. model is a circle, not a straight line. You must think in terms of cycles in order to succeed with this process improvement strategy, and one of the best ways to get started is simply by reviewing what R.E.S.U.L.T.S. stands for.

The R is for Reflection and Vision, and requires management and team members who are able to identify and articulate what they envision their organization to become. If you don’t know where you’ve been, it’s very difficult to see where you’re going, and that’s why this first step in the R.E.S.U.L.T.S. process is so critical.

E is for Expectations and Alignment; in other words, how adept is your organization at identifying future goals and bringing all the players to agreement on the strategy? It’s up to management to identify the organization’s expectations and then align all teams and employees with those goals.

Selection of Opportunities is the focus of the S in R.E.S.U.L.T.S. Now that you know what your goals are and you’ve gotten everyone on board with the strategy, you can look for the gaps in your current plans. These gaps provide the opportunities for improvement, and while you won’t want to focus on all the gaps in the beginning, you can select the most important few to get you moving.

The U in R.E.S.U.L.T.S. is for Understand and Plan. Your plan is worthless unless your people understand it, and that means you need to be able to articulate your plan clearly and succinctly. Next, those who are tasked with carrying out the plan must also be empowered with enough authority to do so in a meaningful way. Ownership of an objective must be tied to the authority to achieve that objective.

L is for Leverage, Influence and Change. Who within your organization will be leading the charge for improvement in your business processes? Are these individuals able to positively influence others and do they have the power to leverage for change? It’s all well and good to have a plan in place, but if you don’t have specific leaders empowered to lead the adoption of the plan, you’ll likely experience only stagnation.

Transform Continually that’s the focus of the T in the R.E.S.U.L.T.S. model. It’s far too easy to become complacent when you see the first few positive results, but this is no time to rest on the early success. Instead, make sure that part of your process improvement strategy involves an ongoing monitoring system and continual change. There will always be a better, cheaper, faster and more efficient way to do things, especially as technology evolves. Your organization and employees must always be willing to look for those improvements.

The final S in the R.E.S.U.L.T.S. model represents Sustain and Reinvent. Much like the step just previous, this topic brings a focus to the necessity of continual improvement. Not only will you need to sustain the new processes and avoid reverting back to a more comfortable method, but you’ll also be looking for ways to improve upon even the improved processes.


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Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Drill-Down into Critical Processes for Gold Opportunities

call center improvement, call center consultant, operational excellence, contact center performance, contact center innovation

Methods to drill-down to the critical few processes that yield 80% of the GOLD opportunity.

Call centers are very dependent on robust processes, carefully designed and standardized to create a smooth work flow and consistent result. What happens when those processes break down, or worse yet, were never designed to work smoothly in the first place?

Leadership in the call center operations is the first place you should look when your critical processes aren’t up to your expectations. Once you have identified the key roles and the organizational structure of your call center operations, you can begin looking at the relationships forged between front line staff and management.

How are the lines of communication in your call center? I’m not talking about communication between the organization and its customers’ at least, not yet. Here, you need to focus on the communication styles and skills within the organization. How are issues escalated to higher-ups? What is the turn-around time on management responses and input?  Now it’s time to look at the micro-management situation within your organization. Do your call center employees have an adequate amount of authority to handle day-to-day issues and situations? If micro-management is a problem, it’s time to invest in training your managers how to delegate, evaluate and motivate employees, rather than constantly looking over their shoulders.

By mapping out the most usual and typical processes in your call center, you can more easily identify where the process is breaking down, where it is succeeding and where it could stand to be improved or modified in some way. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to monitor and analyze the results of your improvements; not all “first pass” fixes are the best solution for the given situation. There should always be a process in place to implement new and better processes as they are determined and identified.

If you have an interest in learning more on the methods to uncover opportunities within a Contact Center and Organization-Wide that quickly convert to GOLD, join me for my webinar Mining Your Contact Center for GOLD.


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Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified


Mining for Gold in the Call Center

Core / Root Causes of Under-performing Call Centers

In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s no longer enough to simply meet or even exceed your customers’ expectations. Your organization is facing tough competition and you need to learn ways to delight your customers with the products and services you offer.

What might be surprising to you is that you can look to your call center to find some of the easiest ways of adding value; this is a prime opportunity to reduce your waste and variation in performance.

Call center improvement, Call center consultant, Operational Excellence, Contact Center Innovation, Contact Center Performance

Methods Exposed to Uncover Opportunities Within a Contact Center and Organization-Wide that Quickly Convert to GOLD

The sources of waste and variation in call centers typically comes from one or more of the following classic problems in this area:

Rework and Correction

There are no “mulligans” in the real world, and when your employees consistently need to re-do or correct their work, you’ll be losing time and money on quality monitoring and escalations.

Minimal Human Involvement

Look out on the call center floor; do you see actively engaged employees, or mainly those who are working robotically, with their heads down? Getting your staff involved and engaged is key to achieving operational excellence in the call center.

Work Flow

If your call center staff is spending time waiting for work to arrive, waiting on call-backs or management input, waiting on escalation queues or maintaining a large email backlog, you’re basically throwing money away. Look for ways you can smooth out the work flow and keep everything and everyone running on time.

Knowledge Disconnect

Do you know what your customers and clients really want? How do you know for sure? Monitoring the customer complaints and common in-bound call reasons can point you directly toward potential improvements.


Diligence is one thing, but over-processing work leads to needless time and effort spent with no value return. Are your employees focusing on creating a “perfect product” that no one wants? Are they spending large amounts of time in duplicating documentation or record-keeping?


What does your inventory look like, if you have one? How about your labor scheduling? Stocking too much inventory and being over-staffed will cut into your profits and efficiency drastically, and is one of the biggest causes of waste in call centers.

By addressing these common causes of waste and variation, your call center can begin to move smoothly and efficiently. However, don’t think that you can simply “fix it once and forget it”; monitoring your call center should be an on-going exercise for your organization, in order to note and correct any emerging problems before they spread.

If you have an interest in learning more on the methods to uncover opportunities within a Contact Center and Organization-Wide that quickly convert to GOLD, join me for my webinar Mining Your Contact Center for GOLD.

Here is the registration link:


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Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Why Can’t Organizations Keep High-Performing Teams Working Consistently?

Having mentored hundreds of high-performing teams over the years, I have seen great successes. Unfortunately, I have also seen far too many failures. Obviously, my experiences bring up a big question: “Why is it that many organizations can’t consistently keep high-performing teams working in all areas?” Typically, the answer comes down to just a few basic reasons.

High-Performing teams, problem solving activities, performance management, operational excellence

Sometimes, team leaders set the team up for failure right from the very beginning

The first reason can be found behind the scenes when top management is not a believer in high-performing teams. If the organization’s leaders subscribe to more of a “theory X-type” style of management, as opposed to a more participative “theory-Y style” of leadership, the team members will not believe in their own abilities or performance. The worst type of manager is the one that listens to ideas and then tells the team what to do. This is a fatal step to take with a team and guarantees they will not reach the status of “high-performing.”

Another situation that hinders teams is the creation of a team that is either too small or too large. Three members or fewer creates the problem of no diversity and limited resources. Seven members is typically ideal for most projects. Teams with more than ten members start to be a problem because it’s too hard to keep everyone in-tune.

Sometimes, team leaders set the team up for failure right from the very beginning. This can happen due to several issues. For example, if a leader loads the team up with too many of one personality type, that team will struggle. To avoid this scenario, pick the personality profiling tool you like best and then try to select team members who bring different strengths and weaknesses. This may sound counter-intuitive on the surface, but it really does matter.

Unrealistic expectations can also shoot your high-performing team in the foot, whether those expectations are too low or too high. If given no or very low expectations, the team will go nowhere. Conversely, tasking the members with real or perceived expectations that can’t be met defeats and demoralizes the team before they can even begin. Finally, the team leader or facilitator may be the reason why the team fails.

Oftentimes, management is unable or does not know how to support the team. Either through not providing enough guidance, resources or support of good decisions, a team leader can destroy the chances of creating a high-performing team through inaction. Additionally, management that fails to give the right kind of leadership to the team guarantees a wasted effort.

Through establishing the correct size for your team, carefully selecting your members, providing measurable and realistic expectations for all involved, and effective team leadership, your organization can foster high-performing teams across all functional areas. If your organization is struggling to create high-performing teams, put these suggestions to the test and you will begin to see real results.

If you have an interest in learning more how the Code of Conduct can transform teams, join me for my webinar 3 tactics REVEALED to Crack the CODE on High-Performing Teams.  Here’s the registration link:

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Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

Leading High Performing Teams

The single most important skill you must have to be an effective leader of high-performing teams is understanding that your role is always situational. You may already be aware of the theory of a four-phase development for teams: forming, storming, norming and performing. While that theory will go far toward helping you learn to lead a high-performing team, it isn’t the only information that you need to do well.

The Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model, which states that leadership styles must change for people depending on their level of competence for the task at hand, is also very useful. People and teams of people exhibit the same kinds of behavior with respect to a task assigned. As mentioned above, these behaviors shift through four defined phases. What most leaders fail to understand is the type of leadership behavior needed for each phase. The most critical phases for leaders to establish a team culture are the “forming” and “storming” phases.

Phase 1 – Forming the Team

High-Performing teams, problem solving activities, performance management, operational excellence

Your role as a leader in HPT is always – SITUATIONAL

During the first phase, members of the team may be unwilling, insecure or unsure how to do the task. That means that the leader’s behavior must be very directive. Team leaders must be very prescriptive and almost dominating in directing the team as they get started. They must accelerate the members through the “forming” process and get them oriented as quickly as possible.

Tell them what the team will do, show them the steps to take, and then figuratively hold their hands as they start the tasks. Close supervision and providing a substantial amount of feedback on how they are doing is essential during this phase, just as if training a new employee on a job he or she has never done before.  Finally, make no assumptions until the team proves they are ready to move on as a cohesive group.

Phase 2 – Storming Development

In the second phase of the model, people on the team are beginning get committed, seem to be “getting it,” but may still be reluctant. Members may also be working through developing their relationships and trust with each other on the team.

The manager’s role shifts from being directive to helping people build relationships. He or she also needs to focus on getting members emotionally involved with the purpose of the team. Think of the leader as a salesperson asking a lot of questions, helping the team break down their disagreements and finding compromises with which the entire team can move forward.

Leaders should directly reinforce the kinds of “norming” behaviors they want and allow the individuals to begin taking on some responsibility for tasks as they demonstrate their ability to do so. A “team progress check” is appropriate at this juncture.

During the final two stages, norming and performing, team leaders will eventually be able to step back from the team, delegate more, and function as a resource for the team. When led successfully through the first two phases, your team will earn the title of “high-performing” and will have gained knowledge and expertise that will continue to work for the organization in the future.

Share your experience with these four phases that teams go through.  If you have some interesting story to share about how you handled a situation, I’m sure my readers would enjoy hearing.  Just comment below.

Here’s an FYI – I’ll be hosting a webinar on the 3 tactics REVEALED to Crack the CODE on High-Performing Teams.  You might find it interesting.  Here’s the registration link and more details about the content.

Connect with us in LinkedIn:


Kim Crabtree, President of MetaOps WBENC Certified

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