MCA Management Awards 2009: Operational performance in the private sector Winner

TRINITY HORNE WITH EIRCOM

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Eircom is Ireland's leading fixed-line telecoms company with 1.2 million customers, and its main internet service provider. But in just five years, the firm has undergone three changes of ownership and experienced a number of changes in direction and structure. Amid all this uncertainty, Eircom knew some things for sure - that to compete, it had to reduce the length and variability of delivery lead times, increase productivity via a capacity uplift and manage the growing demand for higher bandwidths.

The Trinity Horne project, 'Zeta', focused on 170 staff who worked in Eircom's core network services (CNS) division, with the aim of improving competitiveness and operational efficiency. Trinity Horne first laid down a process management operating framework - a series of tools and approaches to help managers drive the overall performance in their teams, from demand forecasting and supply planning to work management and operational reporting. This gave managers a consistent management toolkit.

Then, using its web-based Red Owl reporting tool, Trinity Horne put in place a 'lead-time matrix' to monitor how engineers perform day-to-day and week-to-week. But Red Owl also tracks the progress of each order: a traffic-light system alerts managers to glitches likely to jeopardise the timely supply of new data orders, and lets them take remedial action. This lead-time matrix monitors the delivery process from customer order to final sign-off.

A Delphi process tightened up the interface between demand for data order completions from Eircom's retail and wholesale sectors and the ability to meet that demand within CNS. The process brings together sales and operations teams to forecast demand and plan resource capacity, helped by forecasting and capacity simulation models.

Lean sigma methodology was used to help Eircom staff deliver continuous process improvements in both fibre and non-standard copper products. Designated employees were trained to make process improvements and cut costs, thus underpinning the sustainability of the project.

Finally, Trinity Horne introduced a cultural change programme using its own coaching methodology. Eircom managers were coached to adopt a more proactive attitude to improving team performance. They were trained to use tools and techniques with which to challenge team and individual underperformance. One-to-one coaching sessions were supplemented with support in the field to ensure that the new behaviours took root.

Project Zeta lasted nine months, after which lead times for high-speed IP data products improved by 97%, well ahead of target. CNS staff productivity improved by 12%, and the variability in order lead-time and due-date assignment was much reduced. Sales teams from the company's wholesale and retail divisions are now working successfully with CNS to forecast demand and plan resource capacity.

Among the more intangible benefits of Trinity Horne's engagement, Eircom managers are now more rigorous and disciplined in approaching their own work and the performance of their teams. They are also showing more confidence, enthusiasm and willingness to share best practice with their colleagues, and teams on the front line have a better understanding of their own performance too.

'Trinity Horne worked in partnership with our management team to deliver an excellent solution with very tangible benefits,' says Eamonn Walsh, general manager of Eircom's core network services. 'We now see CNS as leading-edge and demonstrating operational best practice.'

TAKE-HOME TIPS

Trinity Horne tailored Project Zeta to raise competitiveness and efficiency at Eircom. Selected staff were trained to make process improvements, while managers were coached to take a more proactive attitude to team performance. Being able to track the progress of orders from start to finish brought the sales and operations functions closer together, making for better forecasting, planning and operational efficiency. After nine months, lead times for Eircom's high-speed IP data products improved by 97% and staff productivity was up by 12%. Greater rigour is now part of the company's culture.

- Give managers a consistent management tool-kit;

- Make changes sustainable by training employees to carry out their own process improvements;

- Coach managers to challenge underperformance - in their own work as well as that of others.

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