The answer from most of those who have used IEs in the business improvement role is absolutely YES, and in many cases the speed with which the diagnosis is reached seems startling to the Board and Senior Managers in a business. Many IEs like myself gain much of our business based on an brief initial examination (usually free) and a 5 days scoping study, where the scope of what can be achieved is defined (usually charged). So how do Interims do this and can you use some of the ideas to give your business a health check?
IEs in the business improvement arena initially meet a senior member of the business, and are given an outline of the challenge—often management have had several attempts to resolve the issue already and have failed to be fully successful. IEs will always wish to verify the diagnosis themselves and often have a sequence they follow. A sequence I frequently use is:-
I. Management Accounts for last 2-3 years looking for discontinuities.
II. Ask as many people as possible to talk about what has gone well recently, what has not gone well and what causes problems.
III. Take a selection of sales and trace them through from quotation to payment (and sometimes to end of warranty) looking for inconsistencies. In a long sales cycle we may split this up to:
i) Quotation to Order (using a recent order)
ii) Order to Invoice payment (using a currently shipment)
iii) Shipment to Warranty end (using a current item in the field)
I & III can be applied by any manager within a business, what one looks for varies but margin to plan, lead time to plan, late changes, discounts/warranty charges are amongst the most common. Normally a selection of between 5 & 10 will be enough to identify the issues. For more information or to get some help contact Business Transformers Ltd.