Sometimes it’s just amazing how the approach to the usual work can change just because we looked at the situation from a slightly different angle. We begin to make decisions and act in a completely different way, sometimes diametrically opposed to the established rules.
This also happened to one of our marketing projects. We just decided to approach project management in terms of production management. And this means that the management method should not be a design, but a production one.
What is the main difference between these methods?
When managing a project, we track the timelines for completing tasks, trying to prevent them from lagging behind and complete the entire project on time, managing resources. And managing production, we have a fixed processing time for each product (or batch) and try to maintain the rhythm of work necessary to complete the entire order, focusing on the possibility of a “bottleneck” (limitation). Well, now, in order, what have we changed in managing this project.
It so happened that the described project was almost a complete analog, except for some minor changes that we had already carried out the project three years ago. And although the fact that we repeatedly received the order indicates the successful completion of that project, we really did not want to repeat the problems that we encountered the last time.
Basically, the problems were related to the constant rush-offs, as a result of which it was necessary to urgently add additional resources, because sometimes it was necessary to hold more than 80 meetings, with a plan of 19. Moreover, at the beginning of the project, meetings were practically not held due to postponement of meetings with companies at a later time.
The customer sent a project schedule with accurate quantitative indicators for each task.
Several databases were required, where the companies are divided into different profiles, that is, grouped by market segments of interest to the customer. For example, a profile is selling furniture, a profile is a house, a garden, a kitchen garden, etc., a total of 18 profiles.
Telemarketing profiles, i.e. those who agree to answer questions by phone required about twice as many meetings as presentations, where an interviewer came to the company and conducted product presentations following the profile. As a result, it was necessary to recruit a certain number of companies that agreed to participate in a two-day event, during which it would be possible to conclude the maximum number of contracts between the companies.
From the experience of the previous project, it was known that the time required to create a database to start the telemarketing task was not so much. During the project, the base can be replenished by agreement with the customer. Therefore, this task can be considered as a production warehouse of materials (companies), which simply needs to be replenished on time.
And the task of holding the event, in general, is a separate mini-project, which is associated with previous tasks only in that it may not happen at all if the previous tasks are not qualitatively completed. So, it can be imagined that after the meeting-presentation, the company falls into the “finished goods warehouse”, just like in the production working at the warehouse. Now redraw the chart a little differently:
In this form, there is no doubt that this is a direct analogy with production. To effectively manage production, you must first determine the restriction on which the flow rate in the production depends. And then build the work in such a way as to maximize the use of this restriction and subordinate everything else to the work of this restriction.
In our case, the limitation was interviewers who were able to conduct quality presentations. In the course of the previous project, we had to attract up to 30 interviewers. In this project, it was decided to use no more than 7 people, but to choose the best, having their own transport and available at any time. In fact, it turned out that five constantly working people are quite enough, and 2 people were involved periodically.
We proceeded from the fact that one interviewer can hold 3-4 presentation meetings per day. This means that 6 people are enough to hold the required 19 meetings a day, but to provide a buffer for any unforeseen situations, it was decided to schedule 21 meetings a day and distribute them among 7 interviewers.
Related article: How to Select and Manage Projects in Digital Marketing
To subordinate all work to the maximum use of restrictions, it was required to adopt several additional rules:
- The work of telemarketers every day ends only when 21 meetings are scheduled the next day.
- Make appointments taking into account the time for the presentation itself and the time for the road. To do this, sheets were hung out that clearly showed the time already taken by the meetings for each interviewer, highlighting each with a different color. This seriously helped telemarketers in the conversation to set the time for the meeting, trying to evenly distribute the work of the interviewer for the day.
- All telemarketers must work in one database, where each company is assigned a unique number, profile and a specific person who works with this company is assigned. During the last project, a lot of time was required to combine information from several telemarketers, and this led to additional errors.
An important criterion for production management is the duration of the production cycle. The production cycle is a calendar period from the moment the raw materials and materials are put into production until the finished product is completely manufactured. The duration of the cycle was calculated and amounted to 4 days, although during the project it decreased to 3 days. To ensure that the duration of the cycle, and therefore the rhythm of work of the restriction, does not increase, telemarketers were given a strict instruction – to schedule an appointment no later than the third day from the moment the first call to the company was made (taken from the “material warehouse”). In fact, in the vast majority of cases it was possible to arrange an appointment the next day, but sometimes every other day, thereby the cycle was almost 3 days.
Thus, we could respond in time to the need to replenish the “stock of materials”, that is, to look for additional company databases for “lagging” profiles.
What we got as a result of such an organization of work:
- There was not a single rush and even the ecological disaster that happened in the city, which struck out a whole working day, did not affect the results. We easily passed all the control points with a large margin.
- The required number of meetings, presentations, and questionnaires were made and submitted 4 days earlier than the schedule sent by the customer. On the last project, we had to finish this work already during the final event.
- The director was practically not distracted by this project. During the last project, he often had to intervene in the work and resolve serious issues with the customer.
Today, after receiving such successful results, we plan to carry out all projects related to a large stream of repetitive tasks according to the developed methodology. This is not just a way to do the work on time and in high quality, but also during the project it is easy to manage the process without fuss.