Ahmad is working at a progressive information technology company. Soon after his appointment, he was promoted to the position of digital content manager, where the entire content creation process was to be managed by him. His friends envied him for the abrupt promotion or jump to the senior position and he was also feeling extremely joyful. However, the happiness moment was shorter than he imagined. Despite putting all the available human and physical resources, his department was unable to meet the desired productivity level and required quality standards.
At the time of his appointment, the company was facing a serious gap between demand and supply of the content products, which compelled Ahmad to focus on the volume of the work. It was quite good approach for a couple of weeks or say a month; however, the problem aggravated with the quality complaints alongside rejections by the clients. The company lost many clients in a very short span of time and that crippled its financial and operational liberty. Adding fuel to fire, he had no idea of pending work, delayed projects and extent of missing work. Ahmad was being grilled by people in marketing, sales and senior managerial positions for his inability to meet expectations.
Ahmad was quite anxious, not about his job, but about what went wrong? He was convinced that he has done quite a handsome job, with regards to almost ending the gap between supply and demand of the content items. However, the loss of clients, excessive rejections, weak project tracking and poor reports on various projects were something, he could not understand the reason of. His CEO assigned him the task of finding out the key reasons behind all the mess and being some practical suggestions to get rid of the entire mess.
On a weekend, he took some time and spent a day long with few quality management books. The sole purpose of his study was to find the exact ‘bottle-neck’ and how to fix it? After spending a handsome time with books and consultations with good friends, he was convinced that “our learning process never ends and it should remain continue”. Put yourself in this situation and ask, what actually went wrong?
Efficiency & Effectiveness:
To understand this in an easier manner, I am quote a paragraph from Rough Guider’s ’40 Tried & Tested Ways of How to Become More Productive at Work’; “efficiency is doing something as fast as possible without making mistakes. For instance, you build a quality ladder as fast as possible, using the right tools, right materials and right workforce. Effectiveness is doing the right thing, also as fast as possible, without making mistakes. Let’s take the example further. Once you have completed the ladder you remember that you need to use it in the garden to pick apples. However, you have assembled it in your upstairs bedroom. As a result, you will now have to dismantle it and start again outside. You can see that you may have been efficient in terms of the speed by which you put the ladder together, but because you didn’t plan the activity properly, you were ineffective in achieving your ultimate goal of having the ladder completed in the right place at the right time.”
Ahmad has got his problem solved right here. He was building ladders in a closed-door room, which was eating up his double time. His sole focus on ‘quantity’ while bridging the gap between supply and demand cost him more and aggravated his problem. So he noted the point number one as to be an effectively efficient manager by putting focus on doing right things first and doing things right later.
His 2nd observation was lack of automation system in the organization. All the project reports, data and records were managed manually by data entry people. Yeah, that’s quite true that not a single qualified person was there to do the job of content management and reporting. The results were disastrous for the entire company as manual project tracking was a total mess. Ahmad noted the 2nd point ‘to be done’ was introduction of an automation system in project tracking and data management. Though investment in some automation tool would be seen as expenditure; however, the resultant higher productivity would earn the investment back within a very short span of time.
Training and Development:
This guy was convinced now that you can never grow with garbage. The quality of available resources determines the quality of output; otherwise the ‘garbage in and garbage out’ is the situation. The third suggestion that he noted was to introduce the concept of regular training and development and improving the hiring process. The studies have shown that an organization can improve its overall output by 200%, if it spends 10% of its annual budget on employee training and motivation. Training process has to cover the essential hard as well as soft skills, enabling managers to cope with the existing and possible challenges.
What Ahmad keenly noted was that the company was relying a lot on outsourcing. Whenever there is excessive work, they simply outsource it and get something that was not as per the applied standard within the organization. Of course, they can’t blame the service provider for the substandard products alone. It was important to standardize the outsourcing issue and the better approach would have been to hire qualified people to avoid anything for outsourcing.
Finally, management is not something complex; it’s just simplifying the process of doing things. In this regards, the focus has to remain on the output and its quality. Despite invention of latest technological tools, the essential need of sound management and leadership qualities is there. The discussed case study is also an eye-opener for many of us as majority of the corporate firms in Pakistan are faced up with the same or similar problem. Having said that, I thank you all for taking out time and read this post at “Diary of a Chief Executive“. Hopefully, this blog post has given you some fresh ideas or at least invited you to look at things in a little different way. You can always share your views and feedback in comments and can also follow me on Twitter at @Mtahirakbar.