The Director of a Fortune 500 retailer wanted to increase the productivity of his development staff. He believed that the 25 employees in the Development Department were spending too much time on maintenance tasks versus enhancing existing systems and developing new systems. Mistakes were being made. Tasks often had to be redone. The Director was concerned that his staff, though qualified, was unable to meet the ever-increasing demands being placed on it. Sophelle was brought in to evaluate the department’s people and processes.
Sophelle identified four main problems:
- The specific skills of various individuals weren’t being put to best use. Instead, some employees were doing tasks and making decisions in areas for which they lacked experience and qualifications.
- Many of the department’s procedures were inefficient. Sophelle noted that most tasks were being handled the same way they had been handled for the last 10+ years, even though the company had grown significantly and technology offered more expedient options.
- Decisions were being made too casually, leading to mistakes that then had to be remedied. Furthermore, there was little, if any, documentation of these decisions, causing confusion, duplication of efforts, and quality control issues.
- Too many people were reporting to the Director. The Director was forced to oversee virtually every task and spend most of his time putting out fires instead of doing any long-term, “big picture” planning.
Sophelle set up an organizational chart that defined specific positions and responsibilities. Sophelle also recommended hiring a Senior Project Engineer who had a background in technology and a familiarity with best practices and processes. A Sophelle consultant filled the new role while the search for a permanent employee was conducted. At the same time, Sophelle helped the company establish systems, formalize processes, and document decisions to reduce inefficiencies and the incidence of mistakes.
Within three months after Sophelle began the project, the personnel and organizational changes had been completed. Productivity improvements were substantial, and the quality of the department’s work greatly improved. The department was more responsive to its customers and was positioned to meet the ever-increasing demands being placed on it. The Director considered the project a complete success.
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