With customer data staring them straight in the face, Mark Hoffman and the executive team at TCGRx quickly agreed on digital transformation priorities.
About a year ago I sat in our board room with the rest of the executive leadership team debating (okay, arguing) about what needed the most attention within our product suite.
I lead the technology and service function for a privately held company that produces software and robotic solutions designed to make pharmacies faster, safer and cheaper to operate. There are two other functional heads reporting into our CEO and we all had our own perspectives on what was ‘broken’. We had opinions, but we didn’t have facts to present to each other.
I had spent the previous few years working out the major kinks in our products and then adding additional features and functionality to propel us to be the number one distributor for Panasonic Health Care robotic devices in North America. Now we were catching our breath and looking to the future. We all understood that in order to continue our successful growth, we needed to be in agreement on the direction we were heading. That was turning out to be easier said than done.
Having spent the last several years focused on my company’s products, I determined at that moment that I would divert some of my team to look inward.
For years we had been recording information gathered from customer service calls. In addition, we have an ERP system that records the dispatches of our field service techs and the movement of our parts and material. We were sitting on an untapped gold mine of information.
My career has been focused on leading IT teams through times of change. Whether this was creating new products, implementing new technology solutions, upgrading infrastructure or introducing governance and change control, I had learned to guide my teams through the chaos by following a simple formula of setting a vision for where we needed to be, developing the action plan to get us there and then monitoring and revising the plan to ensure we stayed on track.
Harnessing the Power of Data
This time was different – yet it was the same. As I sat there with my peers I realized I had to be the change agent again, but at a different level; and in order to do so I needed to harness the power of our data.
Immediately following the meeting I sat down with someone from my R&D group and adjusted his priorities. We reviewed the systems we could mine for information and developed a plan to harness data from our phone system, our ERP system and our service tracking/ticketing system.
It didn’t take much time to come up with a few KPIs we could cull from our systems and present to the executive leadership team to show us where our problem areas were. In true ‘skunk work’ fashion I worked directly with the reporting team to mine and tweak how to best display the results. The insights were incredible.
At our next executive team meeting I introduced a set of crude but interactive web based data summaries complete with drill down capability that allowed us to get into the details where needed. It was not a perfect solution, but it was a start. My peers and I had had the first glimpse into the facts of what was happening with our customers and within our organization. More importantly it broke the log jam we faced in our previous meeting by helping us understand that each of our perspectives was correct.
- Our CFO/COO contended that we were leaving money on the table with our customers and being inefficient with our resources.
- Our EVP of Sales and Marketing stressed that our product was not as intuitive as it should be and as such we lost sales to simpler products.
- My assertion was that some basic recurring issues needed attention.
Now, with the information staring us straight in the face, we realized that we were all right.
Acting on our Data
We took the information and set our goals. There were certain repeat calls that my R&D team was tasked with eliminating. We could also see through percentage analysis that the support team was not documenting every service call into our ticketing and ERP system, which amounted to money left on the table for lost time and material billings. Based on the recurring questions our customers had immediately after their installations, we created programs to improve our customer training, our onsite installations and the overall user experience with our product.
It was like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. We had possessed the power all along, but we had let other distractions divert our attention. By taking the initial step of extracting the information from our systems and presenting them in simple ways for my peers to see, we could all align and agree on our priorities. This quickly rippled through our organization as our teams became focused on the top issues and began fixing the easy things first.
Fast-forward one year and now we are working with much more sophisticated data analysis. We can see where our hot spots are with our products and our customers and, more importantly, use this information to quickly attack and resolve problems. Before, we pored over crude reports and distilled from them the key problem areas and then took action to fix these areas. Now, I am guiding the executive team through the next level of transformation as we migrate towards true dashboard and exception based management.
With the successes over the last year, my peers agree on the strategic importance of using this information because they experienced firsthand the positive effects of driving improvements by taking action on our data.