Integrated CRM Application and Data Retention Policy
Recognizing the importance of obtaining an upgraded and integrated billing and CRM system, I took charge of a stalled project and saw it through to completion. There were multiple occasions where the firm decision makers declared the project dead due to something it couldn’t do or needed to do differently and seemed impossible to achieve. I found a way around every roadblock that was erected—usually right at the meeting in which it was brought up. There was a point at which the sales side was complete, but it looked like there was no way we would be able to achieve flexibility desired in the billing side. Again, the firm wrote off the project as a lost cause. Rather than accept defeat, I built a program tailored to the specific billing needs that I could change on demand. The implementation of that system has allowed our operations team members to focus on servicing our sales team rather than constantly shuffling paper and manually entering trades. The sales team has been able to their administrative workload to operations which has allowed them to focus on revenue generating activities. Concurrently, the improvement in data collection allowed for the elimination of ~$2,000/month in now unnecessary leased equipment and supplies. Finally, the data collected by the integrated software has allowed for more strategic business development practices and accurate evaluation of promotional campaigns while also providing data to the proactive risk mitigation system described below.
Proactive Risk Mitigation System
In the ever changing regulatory environment, it became apparent that the firm's records management and documentation procedures needed to be improved to remain operationally viable. I designed a proactive risk documentation procedure which collects data on business anomalies and integrates with the firm CRM/Billing software. Concurrently, I called for the digitization of select firm documents to reduce recall times from 5 days to instantaneous. At the time these changes were proposed, I faced considerable resistance from key stakeholders which I fought to overcome. This integrated data system has recently been described as "industry leading" by a compliance expert.
Process Redesign/Cycle Time Reduction
Fighting against decades of organization and industry instilled habits, conventions, and customs, I engaged in a comprehensive business process evaluation to reclaim wasted time and energy. What I found was a patchwork of inconsistent policies, unorganized procedures, and a complete lack of comprehensive operational planning. I significantly reduced complicated processes (e.g. reduced one daily activity from 32 steps to 1) by integrating technology in conjunction with elimination of unnecessary activity. I observed workflow to identify and eliminate bottlenecks caused by legacy procedures and misguided assumptions (e.g. stopped production of duplicate documents which were being unnecessarily produced for, and hand delivered to, clients). Finally, I facilitated cooperation between disparate functional departments to reduce confusion, increase service quality, and the operation from degrading back into chaos in the future..
Facility Redesign and Construction
In an effort to bring the firm facility in line with the changes in business practices, we expanded and improved the firm operating facilities. I planned the expansion of firm facilities including the design of expanded area, temporary accommodations for displaced staff, and project cost control. Additionally, I coordinated the scheduling and interaction of architects, building management, tradesmen, and technical staff. As part of the upgrade in facilities, I designed operations work space to allow for a more efficient workflow and reduced communication barriers between operations and sales. This redesign and construction occurred concurrently with a managed services transition and technology upgrade which will be discussed later.
Vendor Relationship Evaluation
After discovering significant cost overruns due to inefficient vendor management, I engaged a comprehensive vendor performance and billing evaluation to assure the firm was receiving the best possible service from all vendors at a fair price. This examination identified several problem areas including over billing by one vendor in the amount of $40,000/year. Where it was possible, a compromised arrangement with vendors was negotiated. In the event a vendor was unwilling to participate in a negotiated arrangement, or where the errors were so egregious that we felt uncomfortable continuing the relationship, bids were solicited from other vendors and the service was moved. Finally, a system of on-going evaluations in conjunction with a RFQ/RFI bidding process was designed to prevent problems of this magnitude from occurring in the future
Outsourced Service Provider Transition and Hardware Upgrade
At the same time the firm facilities were being upgraded, we also engaged in the transition of IT managed service providers and complete overhaul of all IT hardware. During this time I assured that new provider was furnished with all necessary technical information, encryption codes, passwords, etc. by the outgoing vendor; coordinated cooperation between the facility construction vendors and IT vendors; and oversaw the transition of IT hardware which occurred with no interruption to firm activities.
Telecommunications Carrier Transition
After Hurricane Sandy decimated the New York area telecommunications infrastructure, the communications lines serviced by our vendor were some of the last to be repaired. This put us at a striking disadvantage to our competition and I vowed to prevent this from occurring in the future. After researching the options for a carrier transition, I determined that a transition to a larger carrier could be made with no switching costs and reduced monthly line charges Coordinated interaction between telecom hardware provider, the outgoing vendor, and the new vendor to assure lines were moved with no interruption to users on either end.
After discovering a cache of inventory that was no longer usable due to changes in usage patterns, I implemented a “Just-In-Time” inventory control system utilizing the Toyota Kanban model. A "Kanban card" indicating an order needs to be generated is placed within the inventory. When the item with card attached is used, an order for for that item is placed. In this system, inventory is replenished prior to reaching a critical minimum while also preventing unnecessary waste from inventory obsolescence which prevents the firm wasting both capital and space.
The combined impact of these projects has been revolutionary. While many of the results of these projects and the other changes I spearheaded defy quantifiable metrics (I cannot assign a realistic value to fines not levied, previously uncultured revenue, increased customer service, or improved reputation), a sample of the results I can quantify are included below.
Reduced process errors by 70%
Reduced operations process cycle times by up to 99%
Reduced non-salary operating budget by 35%