quality fables competition
You are Suspended!
eClerx Services

"November 2016, ISIS militants shot dead 52 people in east of Mosul city, Iraq." – read the morning newspaper.

Depressed, I flipped over; Dear Zindagi had released a second trailer.Will the movie be a hit? Being King Khan’s movie, they will sell it and people will have the cash to buy it!

Talking of cash, I started pondering over how terror groups would be financing their missions? Unlike legitimate businesses, terror enterprises cannot rely on loans or issue stocks to fund their activities; it definitely must be any system’s loophole.

I, Shubham am associated with the Account Suspension team of eClerx and our client is a global multinational bank that deals with various investment products and financial services.

My team is responsible for closing accounts or relationships that have been inactive in the last 18 months to stop money laundering. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Anti Money Laundering (AML), and Know Your Client (KYC) regulations are considered while account deactivation. An inadequate suspension activity may lead to terrorist mishap.

Account Suspension is one of the oldest processes with us and has matured through continuous improvement.

Over a period of time, even biggest and best-equipped ships run into trouble and it's the same in the world of busi                ness. As the wind outside was so turbulent, we promised to do something new, provide even more secure and better option to the client. Now it was either "You are Hero!" or "You are Suspended!"

We were on a mission to redesign the entire process with Prerna, our Quality POC, senior management, and few other cross-functional teams. We designed a new process flow and shared it with the client. It was a lot like crossing the ocean in a freighter — survival was uncertain. There were days of smooth sailing, and of course, the rogue waves that hit without warning.

Unfortunately, Abhishek,our Client Operational Excellence manager wasn't happy with the solution. He suggested to quit the drive and move ahead with the current flow.

“We are already in middle of ocean. Going back to the original process flow would be safest route. But would that be best for you and team?” With eyebrows raised and a witty smile, asked Ajay, our program manager.

“Definitely Not!” I gave a loud whisper. I turned back to my team and mustered courage to give it another try. With the help of our top management we could now involve Abhishek’s team from the Client side in resolving the issue. Leaving no stones unturned, we gathered their suggestions, carried multiple iterations and studied response and implemented the solution.

At the end we were at the peak of happiness with a robust process design, pleased customers, a satisfied team, proud management, and maybe reduced number of sorrowful columns in the upcoming newspapers.

Peels and Meals
Sample with Video

Once upon a time officers had separate canteen facilities to that of workers. Two decades ago the Earthmoving Equipment plant of a major auto unit in South India was no exception. A large workers’ canteen was operational, on a three shift basis, on the ground floor and a neat compact officers’ mess was designed for the floor above. The latter was also the regular venue for entertaining national and international visitors.

So what was the problem? The staircase leading to the officers’ mess was a challenge for the nasal system of the sophisticated visitors! Polite handkerchiefs partially came to the rescue. Why? The garbage containers were placed under the staircase and they chronically overfl owed! Quality was certainly not a way of life in the vicinity of the canteen.

The new President of the plant, who was a quality enthusiast, questioned the volume and cost of garbage. A key piece of information was that the local municipality refused to shift all the garbage, resulting in the daily rental of private dump trucks. These dump trucks cost the plant Rs 7,000 per day. Over and above this was the cost of wasted food. Collectively, we refer to this as Cost Of Poor Quality (COPQ).

A management team was appointed by the President to solve the problem.

In order to understand the situation the team set up two types of bins; one for avoidable waste (such as cooked food) and the other for unavoidable waste (such as peels and packaging). Avoidable waste accounted for two-thirds of the total canteen waste.

The team then embarked on a diagnostic journey, interviewing workers at meal time (remember, the plant worked three shifts). Here is a fl avour of responses to the question “Why do you waste food?”

“We are in South India and you serve us North Indian food.”

“The meal break is only 30 minutes, and the lines are too long. So I pile up food.”

“The ladles are too large. I could do with smaller servings.”

“The ‘thalis’ are much too large. So I pile up food.”

The remedial actions involved:
1. Inviting a team of wives, by rotation, to set the menu and supervise the same.
2. Scrapping the large ladles and ‘thalis’, and replacing them with smaller ones.
3. Investing the saved COPQ into worker welfare.

The workers canteen now doubles up as a recreation club with facilities for table tennis and carom. The walls are sparkling white and adorned with paintings done by the children of the workers. In fact they even published a calendar that showcased 12 of the best of these paintings.

Reducing Waste, Improving Efficiency
P.D. Hinduja Hospital and MRC

When the Senior Administrator was reviewing the quarterly activity reports, he was perturbed by the report from MRI. Recently the hospital had installed two new state-of-art MRI machines when the earlier single MRI could not handle the patient load. It was expected that the case load would double with easy appointment availability. However the numbers had not increased as per expectation.

So he decided to make a surprise visit to check the facts. Was he in for a surprise!

He went to the MRI at 11:00 pm and there were two families waiting in the MRI lounge. At first he dismissed it thinking they were emergency patients. However, on questioning the staff, the response was casual ‘these are appointment patients…you know how busy we are na?  It’s like this every day Sir!’

When he spoke to the patient relatives he was even more astonished. Mrs. Khatija told him ‘we waited for more than a day for an appointment for my son and still got only a 10.00 pm appointment! The doctors says there may be a brain tumour, so what choice do we have but to take whatever appointment was available at the earliest, even so late at night!’.

 This was also the case for Mr. Mehta. His doctor suspected a spinal cause for his back pain. Mr Mehta explained,  ‘I have difficulty is sitting for so long, so the MRI team has kindly offered me a stretcher to lie down, but I am still waiting for my turn and it is not very comfortable. It seems there is a delay of 30 minutes but what can I do? I will wait!’

So in spite of 2 MRIs it seemed the problem of appointment availability was also not resolved!

Lessons Learned:

  • Delay in performing scans lead to patient dis-satisfaction
  • This was adversely impacted the hospital referral base and in turn was limiting future revenue opportunities
  • This also generated patient loss to outpatient diagnostics

The management reviewed the case and the main question was “Is underutilization of MRI machines because inefficiency on the part of our staff, doctors, and technicians?”

A detailed study using Lean Six sigma methodology was done wherein monthly volume and available time (based on available working hours) was studied to understand the underutilization of the resources, namely, manpower and equipment, with an aim to improve utilization of MRI.

The daily working hours were reduced from 32 hours to 30 hours with a reduction in average MRI time from 74 minutes to 60 minutes.

We were successful in reducing one manpower requirement by re-scheduling staff shift timings without hampering departmental functioning.

The patient load increased from 650 to more than 700 per month with changes.

A Deal with Winter Blues
eClerx Services

On a cold and windy winter night while Kapil looked out of his office window, he realized that the weather inside was no different. Endless work had made everyone unresponsive and frosty. The situation would only worsen with the upcoming high volume season.“Our work is not specific and does not follow any kind of set procedure. Only the experienced people in the process are able to complete work on time” said one of the newly hired resource. The work was monotonous in nature, and consumed significant amount of time.

This winter was nothing new. Many other team leads had tried in the past to deal with this problem and had failed miserably. To lead his team out of this dark night, Kapil decided to involve the Quality team that had helped them in fighting these winters, in the past.

With help of his project mentor Pratikesh, Kapil developed a quick action plan that included the use of internal framework for process improvement, 'WiSE', for waste identification and solution development. Looking at the increase in restlessness of the team members working in the process, Kapil decided to include the technology team to speed up the solution phase.

The process was scoped for robotic process automation. This solution was equivalent to setting up a fireplace in this cold winter night. The solution was proposed to the client, but Kapil had not anticipated what was coming next.

The client refused the solution due to high cost of implementation.

Not ready to give up, Kapil and Pratikesh conducted multiple discussions with the team, which resulted in generation of possibilities like standardizing deal names, development of a deal name repository, tool enhancement, etcetera.

Solutions were proposed to the client one-by-one. Only to be rejected one after the other.

Sitting by the office window, Kapil felt that he had not done anything to fight the chill. Once again, he called the project mentor to discuss if anything that could be done to help his team. This time Pratikesh proposed to combine multiple solutions that were identified previously. They sat together and decided to build an internal repository of deal patterns which were then coded in an autonomated (automation with human intervention) solution. This tool had the capability of extracting the deal name based on deal patterns.

This gave birth to the 'Auto Deal Identifier' tool. This solution was able to draw customer buy-in. Further, the team was able to reduce manual efforts in the process by 92%. The solution drew more synergy amongst the teams and generated the heat that was required in such chilly nights.

Tales of their deed were communicated so that it would become a source of inspiration to sustain their legacy.