Situation Analysis: The cash desk of a Fortune 50 company processed 1,000 cash transfers per day and approximately $170B per year to its customers and vendors. Improperly executed wire transfers resulted in problems for the company and its customers. One such misstep was significant enough to get the attention of senior management. A team was assigned to correct these issues, and upon review, the team found:
- No clearly defined processes
- Low morale affected all team members who felt not recognized despite their constant efforts
- Outdated tools and absence of metrics
Project Approach and Findings: The team had limited time and resources available to do it right first time. The team decided to focus on several key elements:
- Listen to what people had to say
- Focus on input metrics tracking late and incomplete requests submitted to the team
- Value Stream Analysis
Data showed quickly that the cash desk was set up for failure. Last minute requests created repetitive bad multi-tasking and unnecessary peaks of activity towards the last hour of the day. Incomplete requests created recurring rework. These issues originated upstream in the process from Operations, Account Managers and deal teams. To make things worse, defects would often be caught only at the last minute when the experienced and dedicated cash desk team was finding these issues and dealing with them diligently. Because of the timing, a small issue could escalate into a crisis. The separation of functional silos exacerbated the problem.
In the present case, for historical and legitimate controllership reasons, the cash desk was reporting into the Finance function, under the Office of The Controller. Data driven analysis of defects by the project team as opposed to emotional debates about one-off cases, enabled cross-functional collaboration and fast buy-in from the senior leadership team. Governance models were implemented around revised Service Level Agreements. A low-cost basic workflow was created to support these SLAs. This facilitated data collection by providing necessary time stamps and a reliable tracking mechanism to promptly send incomplete submissions back to their requestors. It also supported the redeployment of team members around bottlenecks. A blend of methodologies (Six Sigma, Lean, Goldratt’s TOC and GE’s Change Acceleration Process) was used to achieve the turnaround. CTQ drill downs, Value Stream analysis, Threat/Opportunity matrix, FMEA and Control Charts were amongst the tools used.
Results: A dramatic decrease in late and incomplete submissions resulted in a process performance above 99% on time and in full (5.2?). Beyond the turnaround in service delivery to customers, we also noted the following:
- The team was re-energized. They finally had data to evidence their commitment and efforts. Incomplete requests were sent back within minutes according to the SLA preventing last minute crises and creating capacity to work on legitimate late customer demands. Redeploying team members around the bottlenecks also created capacity. The result was the absorption of a 120% increase in volume with no additional staff.
- Processes were cleaned up of non-value added tasks or tasks that did not belong in the cash desk. The litmus test was to eliminate or transfer such tasks and activities that were not aligned with the freshly updated mission. For example, the cash desk stopped reviewing Tax documents that should be collected well ahead of cash transfers. In addition, manual processing decreased from 32% to 6%.
- Major system overhauls was clearly not required to fix these issues.
Conclusion: In Financial Services, leveraging a Lean Six Sigma data driven approach in general and input metrics in particular can be instrumental in turning around delivery to customers and promote cross-functional engagement. Simple data collections help deal with multiple moving parts at the same time because these moving parts are often interdependent throughout a unique cross-functional process.
Group50 utilizes a full set of analysis tools to optimize a company’s business processes. These tools include Value Stream Mapping, Lean Six Sigma, Kaizens and a series of assessments and workshops that are part of our Company Physical®. We utilize these tools and workshops with the objective of transferring these skills to our clients so that they can continue to improve their business long after we have gone.
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