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  • Joe Wichowski 2:28 pm on November 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business,   

    With operation metrics, putting the cart before the horse can really pay off… 

    Often companies stall to create metrics to measure team performance because the operating data they have does not exactly match the numbers they want.  However, as Jeanne Ross, director of MIT Sloan School’s Center For Information Systems Research points out in this weeks InformationWeek article, creating a single-vision of data within your company “doesn’t have anything to do with accuracy – it has everything to do with declaring it” as the central go-to number.

    Her view is that teams spend far too much time “collecting, cleansing, and perfecting what they think is “the right data” to measure, instead of actually tackling the underlying business problem itself.  The real value is therefore in starting with some number – any number – to begin to understand how likely you are to run out of stock, how often you fulfill orders “on time”, how long does the average customer service request take to resolve, and so on.  In other words, it does not matter if you cannot simply calculate those numbers.  Instead, you may need to look at several other, related or relevant numbers, that you have access to right now in order to make proper inferences towards the business challenges you seek to resolve.

    As a driver of the Management By Exception philosophy for our customers, we at Traction agree that it is always better to “start measuring now – something, anything” instead of the continual discussions that take place, which focus more on the topic of “the measurements that we don’t have” versus the one’s we actually do have.  By shifting to a “good enough to start with” mentality, companies can break free of this cycle, and instead of waiting for data they don’t have, they can focus on the data they do have – and create new ways right now to drive improvement, innovation, and performance.

  • Joe Wichowski 10:42 am on November 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business,   

    Top 3 initiatives to leverage CRM as a key business-enabler 

    Set the expectations

    “[A] root cause of CRM failure is looking at the projects as software deployments when, in order to take full advantage of the systems’ capabilities, a substantial reorganization must be performed on virtually every operation touching customers.” – John McCormick, Baseline Magazine, ‘A Cheet Sheet For CRM Success’

    Too often, companies do not focus enough attention on “what” they would like to achieve.  If the goal is to drive more sales, then how many cold calls each week would make a difference to the bottom line?  If you want more customer intimacy, then how often should your customers be proactively called or visited?  How quickly should a customer service representative resolve an issue for a customer, and what follow-up behavior will best ensure a high-rating on your next customer survey?  By defining clear, quarterly objectives that will help drive sales and ensure rock-solid customer service, it is easier to measure staff on their effectiveness, and ensure your expectations achieve the results you desire.


    Make it easy to achieve

    “The challenge in CRM is really specific to the sales and marketing applications. Much of the software on the market today helps automate process, but doesn’t necessarily provide incremental value back to the user. Sales people often complain that CRM or SFA is just an administrative burden, and does little more than prove to their boss that they are doing their job. So adoption wanes, and users go back to using familiar tools like spreadsheets, databases or even just Rolodexes.” Robert Bois, AMR Research, ‘CRM Spending Up, but User Adoption Still A Problem’

    The common misconception companies make is that a CRM system will allow them to achieve their objectives out-of-the-box.  CRM software is just a tool.  Without a simplified user interface, automated data integration to reduce effort, and custom workflow to automatically move the ball down-field, your CRM investment serves more as a “folder” of information, instead of a proactive business system.  Our vision of CRM is quite simple:  Ensure every management expectation has a defined process, and program those processes into your CRM solution to ensure no one drops the ball.  This is done via workflow agents, system notification, email alerts, and custom reporting.  The goal is to help users meet your expectations, with as little busy-work as possible.  After all, their job is to support and service your customers – not “work” with software.


    Create metrics to inspire and challenge

    “What gets measured gets done, what gets measured and fed back gets done well, what gets rewarded gets repeated.” – John E. Jones, Organizational Universe Systems

    The final key in transforming your CRM initiative into a strategic business enabler is to regularly measure and publish your team’s results.  By making your business processes visible – not just the “wins”, but the losses as well – you create a mentality for continual process improvement.  After all, most employees are winners.  Too often however, they don’t know the score.  Metrics and Dashboards provide a continual set of information for teams, showing them where they are strong, where they are weak, and where they are most effective.


    Get Started Now

    Everyone has a success mechanism and a failure mechanism. The failure mechanism goes off by itself. The success mechanism only goes off with a goal. Every time we write down and talk about a goal we push the button to start the success mechanism  – Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, American Motivational Speaker & Author

    Turning CRM into a true “business enabler” requires focus, hard work, and a solid kick-starter.  So, if your CRM implementation has failed, or you are in the process of getting started, here’s three ideas to get the ball rolling:

    • Book a Strategy meeting today with your Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Operations Manager, and President.  Set the tone – “reset” your ideas for CRM, and hold a blue-sky session.  If you could view 3 years out, where would you like your company to be?  What would you need to “sell” to get there?  How many sales staff would that require?  How many operations people would be necessary to support the new initiative?  Write it down as a “shopping cart” list.
    • Determine where your teams are functioning well, and where they could improve.  If you don’t know, then now is the time to put some stakes in the ground.  Build a scorecard for each of the following topics, and rate them from 1 to 10 to get a better understanding on where you currently are:Cold calling – Leads / Prospecting
      Repetitive Account Management / Visits
      Quoting – Response time, Follow-up, Proactive proposals
      Education – Communication of Products/Services – For both Sales and Customer Service
      Information – Reacting to reports/metrics, Providing proactive information
      Customer Service – Response time, Follow-up/Documented closure of every request
      Product Quality – Overall quality, Perceived Value/ROI
      Product Delivery – On time / As-expected, On budget
    • Based on the output of the Strategy meeting, and cross-referencing with the lowest scoring team functions, select 1 or 2 items to work on and improve this quarter.  Then next quarter, select 1 or 2 more.  After 12 months of improvement, re-score yourself again, celebrate the improvements, and re-focus on another year of change.
  • Joe Wichowski 12:16 pm on October 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, , , , ,   

    What exactly did I do last month? 

    In this month’s Wired magazine, Clive Thompson talks about how Daniel Giovanni utilizes 4SquareAnd7YearsAgo to mine his 4-square check-ins.  He then gets a daily summary of where he was last year.

    What a simple idea, and a great concept.  Sales teams often forget about the repetitive nature of sales – they end up focusing on “This Month’s Deal” instead of also making progress and touch-points on ideas and connections in the past.

    This offers a great opportunity for our daily alert streams that we create for our customers.  By sending Sales teams a summary of where they were, who they talked to, and what they talked about – 1 month, 1 quarter ago, or 1 year ago “today” – we can help remind them of the conversations and activities of the past, to continually “work” the opportunities of the future.  (The Daily Alert streamer is one of the custom tools we’ve created for our customers – if you need additional details, please email me)

    If you don’t have our daily alert streaming system (or some other alert-type system), you could also facilitate this via a simple report or view in Microsoft CRM, Salesforce.com, or SugarCRM.  It won’t “push” to the user, but you could add it to your “Monday Morning Process” and train sales teams on how best to utilize it.

  • Joe Wichowski 4:55 pm on September 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, ,   

    Social CRM – Avoid the traps of non-structured data 

    All the rage at Salesforce.com these days is about “social“.   It should be – Chatter is a great tool, that can take tech-savy sales and operations teams to the next level.  But be careful before Social takes control of your day-to-day structured data.  In the end, users are smart, lazy, and are always looking for the easy-button.

    For example, a recent customer of ours didn’t catch that most salesmen started using the Chatter “What are you working on” status change to post visit reports with their customers.  To them, it was far easier adding the details inside the comment box, instead of making  a traditional appointment.

    30 days later, and the reporting dashboard was not telling the complete story.  The sales manager “read” all the appointments within the Chatter activity feeds and assumed they were making appointments inside Salesforce.com.  The report, however, didn’t reflect that.  Instead, they lost a month’s worth of metrics and accountability.  And salesmen had to go back and re-update their appointments from the previous month – quite a waste.

    I think there are great reasons to roll out tools like Chatter.  Just make sure you have a strategy to train them on “when” they should be using Chatter, or more importantly, when they “shouldn’t”. And have an auditing plan to ensure users aren’t replacing structured tools with unstructured ones, especially if reporting and metrics are important to you.

  • Joe Wichowski 10:30 am on September 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, ,   

    Part 7: Setting Up Worklists for Smart Goals 

    (If you missed the beginning of this series, click here)

    Now that we have our framework for our SMART collection, we need to add some sub-tools to get the work done.  For this, we will be adding three tools within the collection:  A Scope Check tool, an Action Plan, and a Metrics table to capture the before/after measurements.

    First, we will add a Checklist tool, to let us list the initiatives or corrections we could put in place, then utilize the checkmarks to define which are in-scope, and more importantly, out-of-scope.

    Add a new Checklist tool by using the “Add Tool – Browse Tool Catalog…”, then on the “Basic” list, select “Checklist”.

    This time, instead of “moving it to the bottom” of the canvas, we are going to add it to the collection instead.  To do this, each tool has a “More Actions” option.  In that menu, you should see “Move To Collection…”

    Here, we will move it to our SMART Goal #1 collection.

    At this point, your canvas for your template is getting fairly complicated.  Please note that on the left-side of your template, you will find the “Work Items” section.  This section essentially lists out your tools in the template (or when live, an actual activity).  It is simple to just navigate down the tool list by clicking on the focus item you wish to review.  For example, if we click on the SMART Goal #1 collection, we will see the list of sub-tools within the collection.  Here we see our newly added (unnamed) checklist.

    Click on the Checklist in the canvas, and rename it to “#1 – Brainstorming / Scope Check”.   Then add 2 Action Items to the tool:  one for Brainstorming, and another for scope check.  Your final tool will look like this.

    Next, we want to add a Timeline tool to the collection.  Again we use “Add Tool – Browse Tool Catalog…”.  The Timeline tool is located in the Coordinating section.

    Remember to move it to the collection:

    Rename the Timeline to “#1 – Action Plan”, and add an Action Item to prompt the team to create the action plan.

    The final tool we will add is a simple table to keep track of our metrics.  Again, we use the “Add Tool – Browse Tool Collection…”.  Tables are located on the “Basic” list.

    Move your table to the Collection.

    Finally, setup your table with 3 columns (Metric, Before, After), and delete the 4th through 8th rows (3 metrics are usually fine).   Rename your table, and create an Action Item for the team to fill it in.  Your SMART Goal #1 should now be complete.

    Finally, we need to duplicate our efforts for SMART Goal #1 to create SMART Goal #2 and SMART Goal #3.  There is a “copy” function of each collection that will help us achieve this.  The Copy function is located under the “More Actions” menu of the collection.

    This will copy the items within the Collection to a new collection within a template.  Be sure to select your Six Sigma template.  Now, you simply have to rename all of the items within the collection.  (NOTE:  You may need to refresh your browser window in order to see the new collection within your template)

    You can move the new collection to the bottom of the list by selecting the grey-bar next to the collection when you hover over it.  When you do this, you can click-and-drag the collection down to the bottom of the canvas (after the #1 goal).

    Now, rename the collection and the tools to represent SMART Goal #2.

    IMPORTANT:  There currently is an issue (or feature?) with the Copy function.  It DOES NOT copy any action items.  So, this means that you will have to go back through every tool within SMART Goal #2, and re-create those action items within the template.  Kinda a bummer!

    Finally, copy the SMART Goal #1 one more final time, and make it SMART Goal #3.  Remember to rename all tools, and re-create your Action Items as above.  You should end up with a template and a Canvas that looks very much like this:

    That’s it.  Your StreamWork Six Sigma template is now complete.  This template should help define a winning process to focus teams, and tackle any form of challenge within your company.  In the next section, we will walk you through an example project, to see how all the pieces come in to play.

    • Ronald gomez 4:32 pm on November 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Sorry, but my question is – is it possible to make a gantt diagram with sap Streamwork? thanks

      • Joe Wichowski 9:14 am on November 8, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Unfortunately, no. The closest tool is the Timeline tool. But for us, it functions more as a “milestone” tool than a true Gantt Chart.


  • Joe Wichowski 7:22 pm on September 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, ,   

    Part 6: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Defining Smart Goals 

    (If you missed the beginning of this series, click here)

    Now that we have our possible solutions defined and prioritized for our Top Driver, we can let the team focus on 3 of these, define them as S.M.A.R.T. goals, and work the resolutions to the problem.  To do this, we are going to utilize a couple of tools, encapsulated inside a StreamWork Collection.  The collection will let us group several tools together, collating them.  Each of these grouped toolsets will represent a SMART goal – so all in all, we will have 3 collections.

    We will create the first Collection, then use the StreamWork “copy” function to copy the first collection 2 more times.  So, for this part, we simply want to add a single new Collection.

    To do this, we again use our “Add Tool / Browse Tool Catalog” button, and in the list, select “Basic”, then “Collection”.

    Don’t forget to move it to the bottom of the canvas.

    We will now name our collection “SMART Goal #1”, and we will add some instructions on how to use it.

    Finally, we will add a single action item to “assign” the setting of the goal to the team when a new project is kicked off.

    Essentially, we will be adding 3 tools within this collection – a Scope Check tool, an Action Plan tool, and place to define Metrics to be sure our corrective actions have paid off.

  • Joe Wichowski 11:06 am on September 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, ,   

    Part 5: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Brainstorming Drivers & Assigning Priority 

    (If you missed the beginning of this series, click here)

    Now that we have given a place for the team to identify the key Drivers, we need to give them the ability to brainstorm ideas to resolve the Top Driver, and assign an overall priority for each idea.  This will help them decide which items to focus on – not just that it is a “driver”, but that the overall priority of the possible resolution (how hard, versus how big a payoff) is reasonable and valuable.

    To do this, we will add a PICK matrix to our template.  There, the team will be able to identify bullets of opportunity, prioritized along an Effort versus Payoff scale, to better visualize which quadrant of change they should focus on.

    Use the “Add Tool” button, and select “Browse Tool Catalog”.  Then, under “Analyzing”, select “PICK Matrix”.

    Remember to move the matrix to the bottom of the template.

    Next, rename the PICK matrix to “Brainstorm Drivers – Priority Matrix”.  You can then add a single Action Item to assign to the team to fill in the matrix.

    Finally, lets add some instructions for the team to give them guidance on how best to fill in the matrix.

    That wraps up our priority matrix.  We now have given the team the capability to visualize their proposed resolutions to the top-driving issue.  In our next section, we will create 3 sections to allow the team to identify the top 3 they will focus on, and capture their process within each section.  To do this, we will create a StreamWork collection.

  • Joe Wichowski 7:50 pm on September 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, ,   

    Part 4: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Relationship Diagram 

    (If you missed the beginning of this series, click here)

    Now that we have our Affinity Diagram created, we need to allow the team to identify the Drivers and Outcomes as each item relates to each other.  This will help us prioritize our Affinity Diagram, and give us 2 to 3 clear items to focus on and drive the most change within the process improvement stream.

    To do this, we will add a DACI Matrix to our template, and customize the choices.  As usual, we select “Add Tool”, but this time we need to “Browse Tools Catalog” to find the DACI Matrix.

    Remember to move your new matrix to the end of the template stream.

    First, we can rename our Matrix.  In our template, we renamed it “Relationship Diagram – Define the Drivers”.  We also setup our columns and rows to be equal (The matrix only defaults to 3 rows.  We simply add a category row to match the corresponding category columns).  In the end, the user will change the category (both row title, and column title) to match the categories created within the Affinity table.  This just serves as a placeholder for now.

    The second thing to set up is to limit the amount of options within the Row/Column pairing.  By default, all options within the DACI matrix are available.  Since we only need to define the Drivers, we will limit the drop down selection in the matrix to just that value.  Click on the “Edit Properties” option within the matrix, and only specify “Drives” as an option.

    Finally, we will make sure our Relationship Diagram has action, so we will create an action item that will later be assigned to the team to fill it out.

    That’s about it for our matrix.  We will just add some quick instructions on the About tab to be sure users know how to fill it in.

    In our next part, we will allow the team to brainstorm these driving categories for possible solutions, and prioritize based on difficulty and payoff.

  • Joe Wichowski 6:18 pm on September 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, ,   

    Part 3: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Affinity Diagram 

    (If you missed the beginning of this series, click here)

    In our next section, we want to further dissect our 4m.  Usually when you make a 4m, you will often have several “like” ideas within the different M’s.  For example, you may have a an issue listed under Man which states “Sales staff don’t often know the cutoff quantities for the various discount levels during discussions with the customer”, and you may have similar issue under Materials which states “Management hasn’t provided updated breakdown tables for discounts on the various product families”.  To that, you may want to bind those two ideas into one single category called “Discount Training & Documentation”.

    We do this with an Affinity Diagram.  In StreamWork, we again use a simple table where we can lump these “like” issues together from the 4m, then give it a “category” that encapsulates the general idea or topic.

    To add our Affinity Diagram to the template, we again use the “Add Tool” button, and select “Table”.

    The table will again pop up to the top.  No worries, we can use the “Move To Bottom” button to put it at the bottom of the canvas.

    Now, we will title the table “Affinity Diagram – Categorize Your 4m”, and leave 2 columns – “Category” and “Items From 4m”.  (Note:  We usually leave 8 rows, and in the instructions, we try to “limit” the number of categories to no more than 8.  We feel this is best-practices when categorizing your 4m.)

    Next we have to remember to give our Affinity Diagram some accountability, so again we will build an Action Item to have someone fill it out.  (Remember to make it unassigned for now)

    Finally, we will add our instructions into the About tab.

    That wraps up our Affinity Diagram.  We can now move onto the next section, and define a Relationship Diagram to help the team identify the Drivers and Outcomes in relation to these newly defined categories.  Click here to read the next part.

  • Joe Wichowski 9:25 pm on September 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, ,   

    Part 2: Creating Your Six Sigma template – 4m 

    (If you missed the beginning of this series, click here)

    Next, we will add a 4m section to our template.   We use the 4m to get a good understanding of where the team feels there are issues within the current process.   It also lets them focus their thoughts within a single category at a time – meaning we fill in the Man first, then the Machine, then the Materials, then the Methods – ensuring we document everything within the current category before moving on to the next category.

    For us, the 4m (Man, Machine, Materials, Methods) translates more to the business categories “Sales staff/Operations Staff/Admins/Management/Production”, “Computers/Servers/Phones/Technology/Software”, “Collateral/Presentations/Instructions/Catalogs/Website”, and “Processes/Tasks/Required Action/Expediting”.  We feel this provides the team with a good definition of “what” to put inside each category.

    To add this to our template, we will add a simple Table tool to our template-in-progress.  First, click on the Add Tool button, then select Table.

    This should insert a new table into your template.  However, StreamWork always adds a new tool to the “top”.  No worries, we will simply click on the “Move To Bottom” option, which will move it to the end of the template.

    Once at the bottom, we will retitle the table “4m – Identify All Current Pain Points”, as well as rename the column headers “Man”, “Machine”, “Method”, and “Materials”.  The final table should look like this:  (Note: on a few occasions, the column-rename function wasn’t working as expected.  You may need to play with it, but in the end I double-clicked on the column headers, typed in my new title, then clicked on the cell just below it to “save” the change)

    Finally, we want to setup an Action Item to make sure the team can keep track of “when” it gets filled out.  We can do so from the Action Items sidebar on the Table (like before).  Remember to make sure it is unassigned.

    Finally, give your users any specific instructions on filling out the 4m by using the “About” tab.

    Thats it for the 4m.  You can now move on to the next section, the Affinity diagram.

  • Joe Wichowski 9:59 pm on August 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, ,   

    Part 1: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Project Vision & ROI 

    (If you missed the beginning of this series, click here)

    At Traction Consulting Group, we have created our own custom process to improve sales and operations processes, while ahering to the Six Sigma toolset.  These series of posts will not only walk you through it, but also give you a good background in StreamWork and how you may be able to apply it within your own process improvement initiatives.

    Create a new StreamWork template

    Log into StreamWork.  Once there, click on the “Activities” tab.

    Once there, click on “My Templates”, then click on the “New Template” button.   This will initiate the creation of a new blank template in StreamWork.

    Once you have the New Template screen, give it a name and a description.

    You should then be taken into a blank “work canvas”.

    Here, we want to add our first Tool, the “Decision”.  To do this, click on the “Add Tool” button, and you should see it directly in the list:

    Once the Decision tool is added, you need to change the description, and add the “template” text to define the Problem Statement.  To do so, click on the title of the tool “Decision”, and it should automatically turn into a Edit box.  Here you can see I changed the name of my box to “Problem Statement”.  Next, you need to define “what” needs to be decided.  Here, I have added some default text to frame the problem statement – essentially I want to make sure that for every project we are defining the problem, as well as tie it to some form of ROI.

    Once done, click on the “Save” button to save the Problem Statement section.

    Now that we have our Problem Statement section created, we need to make sure it has “action”.  You see, in StreamWork, the primary Activity is just a placeholder – maybe someone comes here and fills it out, maybe they don’t.  Instead, each Tool within StreamWork can have “Action Items”.  These serve as the To Dos of the system.

    So, in this case, I am going to make a two Action Items – one noting that we need to define this problem statement and the ROI, and a second assigned to the management team to “approve” or decide on this project.  To do this, I need to click on the Action Items tab next to the Problem Statement, and click on the “New Action Item” button.

    For the first action item, I am simply going to ask a set of users to finish this section, and mark it “complete”.  However, since this is a template, I do not want to assign it right now – so I will make an “unassigned” task.  (When I kick off a live project later in this series, you will see how the “assignments” come into play).

    Next, I will create a second Action Item which will later be assigned to the manager to approve this project scope and projected ROI.  (For this task, note how I left the “To be completed by” person.  This is due to to the fact that I approve all of the scope and ROI statements before sending to the customer.  So, no need to do additional assigning work later – we can take care of this now in the template).

    Once this is done, you should then be able to see both tasks in the Action Items list of the Tool.

    The final step is to give your Tool some detailed instructions.  This is mostly helpful in providing “self service” instructions to your users.  We can do this on the “About” tab of the tool.

    That’s it!  Your Template is now under way – you have the first section done.  Next we will add a way to document the 4m for this project.  Stay tuned!

  • Joe Wichowski 9:13 pm on August 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, ,   

    SAP StreamWork & Six Sigma – the TCG Process 

    We have been working with SAP StreamWork for a few weeks now.  One way in which we are starting to leverage it is in our Six Sigma efforts.

    At Traction, we apply Six Sigma methods to sales and operations problem solving.  It helps us visualize a clear picture, and ensures we are targeting the most cost-effective path to resolving the problem.

    As such, I will be documenting how we have StreamWork set up to do this.  In the process, I feel you will then get a good understanding of the tool, and how it might be useful for other processes like decision management and project management.

    Intro to SAP StreamWork

    I won’t waste too much time describing StreamWork in this series of posts, except to explain the “idea” of StreamWork, and what its core focus is.  If you wish to dive deeper, you can do so on the StreamWork  web site to watch the demo:  About StreamWork

    StreamWork is an ad-hock “decision support” tool.  It has a bunch of widgets that you can essentially assemble together to form a documented stream of discussions/ideas/topics.  For example, you may want to track strategic initiatives within your company.  You can create a new “activity” in StreamWork that contains a collection of tools like a SWOT analysis, a decision matrix, agendas, pros/cons tables, and more.  The activity stream holds these tools together to allow you to document the process, and track “where” exactly an initiative is in its life-cycle.

    Each tool within the activity can have a set of “action items”.  These become the “tasks” of the system.  So, I may have a tool (as above) where we identify the pros and cons of health care packages for my company.  Within this tool, there may be several tasks.  In this case, I make a single task for my executive team to review the packages, and list out all available pros and cons.  I give them a deadline of the 15th.

    The task is then trackable within the Activity itself, as well as on the overall Activity Dashboard.  (They also get reminder via email, and there is an Outlook connector to sync the task into Outlook).

    To us, this presents the case for tracking our Traction Six Sigma (TSS) project efforts for our customers in a more collaborative format.  Since our TSS processes require a lot of decision and analysis points, we can capture these within StreamWork, as well as keep track of what activity relating to the key decision points is still open.  StreamWork also allows us to extend visibility to the customer using its built-in security functions.

    About This Series

    I have decided to create this post as a “series” of posts over time.  There will be a lot to document.  Each week I will add a link or two to the series, so bookmark the page and check back often.  (Also, each new page will link back to this page, so you can always get back to the “table of contents” if need be).

    Finally, if you have some projects coming up soon, and can’t wait for the whole write-up, feel free to shoot me a call, and I will do my best to help you out.

    Part 1: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Project Vision & ROI 

    Part 2: Creating Your Six Sigma template – 4m

    Part 3: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Affinity Diagram

    Part 4: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Relationship Diagram

    Part 5: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Brainstorming Drivers & Assigning Priority

    Part 6: Creating Your Six Sigma template – Defining Smart Goals

    Part 7: Setting Up Worklists for Smart Goals

    Part 8: Example “First Six Sigma Project” (coming soon)

  • Joe Wichowski 1:43 pm on July 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business,   

    EBIZ Technology has changed its name to Traction Consulting Group! 

    Joe Wichowski
    248-679-9454 x111

    EBIZ Technology Changes Name to Traction Consulting Group
    New Name Is Evolution of Its Service-Based Business

    WIXOM, Mich., July 1, 2011 — Wixom, Michigan-based EBIZ Technology announced today that it has completed its name change to Traction Consulting Group. The goal of the name change is to better reflect the company’s capabilities in helping clients leverage their Sales and Customer Relations initiatives through mentoring, training programs, custom analytics, IT development, and support.

    The company, founded in 1999, provides a unique blend of people, products and processes with expert services in business process engineering, information analysis, systems development, and data integration. The core focus of helping people “Get More” out of their sales and service processes is now better reflected within the company name.

    “’Traction’ for us says it all,” said Joe Wichowski, President of Traction Consulting Group. “We help people gain traction in their processes: to improve, to respond faster, to sell more.  EBIZ as a name did not really reflect that. That name was more related to the type of work we did back in 1999 as opposed to the work we are doing now.”

    Along with the name change, the company has initiated a new Website, which can be viewed at http://www.tractioncg.com.

    The change is effective immediately, and all future business will be undertaken with the new name. For more information, please visit http://www.tractioncg.com or call 248.679.9454.

  • Joe Wichowski 10:03 am on June 24, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business   

    Skip the drama, and help your team get to work! 

    We’ve all had it before. Something happens at the office, “The Event” – a customer has a complaint, a project gets off track, or employees aren’t getting along because “so-and-so said such-and-such”.

    As an entrepreneur, I believe that my teams’ healthy reaction to these events is critical to the success of our company. These events need to be self-healing, self-resolving. I cannot ignore them, yet I cannot be the person to drive the change necessary when they come up.

    Recently, John Drury, from The Inside Out Edge (http://insideoutedge.com), provided me with a tool that I found extremely useful in helping my team understand the Event process, and how best to skip the drama and get to the Work that will truly resolve the Event.

    Event Resolution
    Event Resolution

    Essentially, around everything we do, there is an inevitable “Event”. This could be a project that is not being delivered up to standards, a customer complaint, co-worker’s not working together, and so on. The Event almost always leads to the “Reaction” – complaining, explaining, criticizing, blaming – none of which is healthy or helpful. The Drift of this Reaction takes us away from something that can truly help resolve the Event – documenting “why”, improving on the process, and moving forward.

    Although it is difficult to totally eliminate the Reaction phase, I believe it is possible for teams to “squash” it, and instead quickly get to the “Learning” phase – the place where we are open to the information the Event is telling us. It allows us to get as much data as possible, and process it, in order to move on to the most important part – the “High Impact Work”. The Work is the place where we actually make the improvement, on behalf of ourselves, our customers, and our co-workers.

    I think it has great implications in our everyday work environments. I have coached my team to use this tool anytime they identify an event occurring – to be aware of it, and learn from it quickly. It is posted in everyone’s work-cube; it is reviewed at every project closure meeting. I feel it gives my team a good process to focus on what is truly important when an Event occurs within my company, and allows us to rapidly get to The Work, for the benefit of our customers and our work environment.

  • Joe Wichowski 7:54 pm on June 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Business, Support   

    Information Week had an article this week  detailing the present rate of Legacy Support (75%) versus New Services/Capabilities (25%) that enterprise budgets face.   Its sad, especially when you consider the fast rate of change IT has seen in the last few years – SAAS, PAAS, Cloud Solutions, and so on.  How can companies leverage these technologies if over 75% of their budget is locked-down just dealing with everyday support?

    Now more than ever, I think it is important for companies to review their overall IT budgets and ask the question “could we outsource this support”.  What level-of-service agreement would we require?  What turnaround time on issues would we demand?  What would it cost for someone else to do this?

    At EBIZ, we do just that.  By partnering with our customers, we not only help them take advantage of new technologies and capabilities, but we also off-load their legacy support of systems; often with a higher rate of service to their users, for less than the cost of dedicated on-staff resources.

    As we leave the “Great Recession” behind, I believe it is now more important than ever for all companies to find solid partners – one’s that will step-up, commit to a high service level, carry these legacy costs on their back, and allow companies to focus on what really matters most – growing and expanding market share.

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