The usual suspects of inefficiency in a field force organization and how to put them behind bars

Long lead-times, high costs, chaotic processes and unclear roles are some of the usual suspects of unnecessary problems many field force organizations face. To get these issues under wraps it’s important to create common structures, find ways to reduce your lead times and identify potential cost overruns.

Creating common structures
Often the local operations of a field force have evolved stochastically over time, under the mixed influence of strong local customer requirements and personal management styles. In many cases there are little, or no interest from top management to get involved in daily field operations, as long as the overall financial result is satisfying to slap on the boss’s desk in the end of the month. These aspects lead to field forces applying their own methods when doing their jobs, making it highly complex, or even unfair, to compare and reward team efficiency. Who’s to say one team is performing better than another when they’re doing completely different jobs?

By creating common structures, on a relevant level, you can form a solid starting point for driving learning and performance through comparability – making it impossible for any team to slip through the cracks. Through comparisons or benchmarking within the corporation, but also across different teams, projects and accounts, a fair and factful view on performance levels and ways to improve in the future can be generated. This requires rigor and determination, a task not for the faint-hearted.

Reducing long lead times
Issues with long lead times can originate in many places; the order process, invoicing or shipment and results in high levels of working capital, invoices bouncing and customer quality complaints. Long lead times are most often a result from finger pointing – nobody in the product stream wanting to take accountability for a job done too slow (or not at all), which in the end provides your organization a steady stream of unhappy customers.

Don’t fret though, all you need to do is make the decision to tackle and deal with your long lead time issues and once again enjoy the fruits of freed up capital. To do this you need to identify the root causes to your issues, not just start taking action in areas you believe are causing your problems. This sounds like a big task, and honestly, it is. It requires conducting thorough data driven analyses of lead times throughout the entire value chain. Inefficiencies, waste, waiting times and bottlenecks need to be visualized and lastly you need to formulate mitigating actions.

Identifying potential cost overruns
However, problems are not always related to the issues underlying the lead time challenges outlined above. Another problem is systematic, common and severe cost overruns during operation versus the budget and targeted margin set at the time when the contract was signed. Cost overruns can originate from anywhere in the process, from the scoping and contracting stage to various steps within execution. In other words, it could come down to a sloppy negotiation, a fear of saying no the boss or trying to overdeliver to impress a newly founded team. Regardless of the reason, there are tools to help you overcome your problems.

So, are you ready to get your usual suspects under wraps and behind bars? Reach out to us with your specific problem and we’ll do our best to help you out.

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