For six years, I looked at our kitchen tiles with contempt. The brown Bialetti accents would have been a perfect accent feature in a coffee shop, but not covering every centimeter of my kitchen wall with their dingy beige background. As they aged, some of them have shifted and misaligned. Still, the kitchen was functional, so I tried not to see them. There was always something else to fix or improve. Then one day, the ceramic sink cracked.
What’s hiding in the cracks?
Everyone has experienced this phenomenon in their professional lives. The big pitch that’s due tomorrow takes the focus off an employee who is struggling. The product launch captures the company’s focus, while the supply chain problems go unaddressed. The cash flow crunch hides poor quality deliveries that make the next sale that much harder. And who has time to update the servers which are five years old but seem to be working just fine?
Of course, it’s essential to prioritize. You wouldn’t get anything done in the workplace if you didn’t. The question is: will you miss the opportunity to improve something if it never gets priority in your workspace?
The evolution of timekeeping
At Mint, we’ve been allocating people to do work as long as the business has existed. In 2015, each team had its own Excel planning sheet with (hopefully) all team members assigned. We were confident in the next two week’s planning, and everything after that was a guess.
A little later, Microsoft’s Enterprise Project Management was introduced for timekeeping, and we added forecasting individual projects in MS Project. Then the sheets were merged to gain a division-wide view, with some additional tweaks to improve performance in key areas. Continuous improvement over the last seven years has brought us improved effectiveness.
Surely, it’s good enough.
Or is it? I recently asked this question after struggling to find an employee with a particular skill for a project that had just started. The current planning landscape is limited to a three-week view, and it doesn’t coordinate staff with their skills. So, I was asking who was available and who had the right skills. This was a moment when the sink cracked.
The right tool, at the right time, in the right way
We’re not reinventing the wheel; we’re evolving the tools we use to drive efficiency. Instead of forecasting in Project and planning in Excel, a few tweaks to how we use Project allows us to forecast and plan in one place.
Instead of week-by-week tabular views of planning, we’re going to visualize the planning in Power BI structured for as many weeks as we have securely planned. We’re going to integrate the employee data so that we can ensure that everyone is planned, and we can facilitate finding the right skills to solve the next client problem. We’re creating a better tomorrow for planning our Delivery business.
When our sink cracked, we saw the opportunity to make our kitchen work better for us. We engaged an expert to do the work and we have never regretted it. Making dinner tonight is going to be so much nicer than it ever was. When will you seize the opportunity to make your business better tomorrow?