Longstanding readers may have noticed that I’m a bit of a process nerd. I really enjoy figuring out how to do something, and then figuring out how to do it better and faster.
I was therefore fascinated to read about Starbucks plan to overhaul the processes their baristas follow to make coffee. Take a look at some of these planned changes:
- Line up all the ingredients for a Frappuccino on the counter – for easy access and to avoid bending down
- A new machines that will make drip coffee on-demand (rather than making a batch every 30 minutes, and throwing away any undrunk coffee)
- A brand new process for making cold brew, thanks to a huge R&D effort.
As a result a Frappuccino can now be made in 36 seconds, down from 87 seconds today. And cold brew? Cold brew used to take 20 hours to make (obviously this was done in advance…), but can now be made on-demand in a matter of seconds.
How did they make these improvements?
If you look at the three examples I’ve given above, you’ll see three different approaches to improving operations:
- Process Improvement – At least part of the Frappuccino improvement simply comes from a better process – organizing the workspace so all the right tools and ingredients are easily available, so that the workers can make the drink with fewer steps and more quickly.
- Investment in Technology – Starbucks is spending money on new equipment which works better than what they have today. They’re spending money on these new machines, but they’re saving labor (and coffee) costs and providing a better customer experience through this capital investment.
- Investment in R&D – For cold brew, their researchers have patented a brand new approach to providing a cold coffee drink – the end result is a new process, but rather than incremental improvements (as with #1) they’ve totally changed how they go about providing that product.
What does this mean for us?
At Award Consulting, we often work with new hosted PBX clients to improve their processes – particularly around provisioning. Even without any special tools, following best practices for Persistent Profiles, Endpoint Packs, MetaView Web templates and import spreadsheets can significant boost quality and efficiency.
As owner of the business, I often spend time improving our HR processes, our sales processes, and our marketing processes. Some of this is through tools, but as a small business you can get a lot of benefits simply by writing down the best way to do things, and using templates for common activities.
What do you need to improve?
As you think about your areas of responsibility, can you think of any process or product that is poor quality, unreliable or time consuming?
Really. Take a moment and think. What do you wish you could change / fix?
What will it take to fix that thing? Do you need to spend some time on incremental process improvements? Do you need to buy a new tool / invest in some new technology? Or do you need to totally rethink your approach?
I love talking about this stuff – so feel free to send me a note and share what’s on your mind. Maybe we can help, or maybe I can just throw some ideas out to help you brainstorm. Either way – I’d love to hear from you.