Maher is a firm that has always valued process; it’s one of our key strengths. At the same time, our clients expect us to be flexible and responsive to changes in work flow and their business priorities. Our Private Sector team came together in April to work on bringing the best of our agile workflows into consistent practice while maintaining client-specific flexibility in our process.
We met at our corporate offices in New Jersey to reflect on the growth and expansion of our Practice and the firm as a whole. We’re proud of how we’ve launched innovative learning solutions for our clients and for our peers’ public-sector clients, cross-pollenating new methods of learning born out of private sector initiatives.
It was also a chance for us to review and evaluate the way we serve clients. We wanted to take the best ideas and make them consistent across the practice. Our clients would all benefit from the best practices, and our staff would be able to cross over to other clients and projects smoothly without having to learn a new way to work. In the case where specific nuances relative to workflows were unique to a client, we identified opportunities to collaborate with those clients to clearly understand why such processes were required and if they were open to change to expedite workstreams without sacrificing quality.
We started our efforts with visioning: why is this important to our clients and to us? Then, we followed that with workflow mapping, using value streams to drive our client service delivery models. Several key client relationships and projects were highlighted during this session, as they clearly offered up Kaizen (continuous improvement) opportunities.
Part of our discussion was centered on how we could make it easier for our clients to achieve more, more quickly. As Change Management experts, we know change is hard work. We see this in working with clients who are trying to maneuver constant shifts in their markets and their organizations. Our session was informal and peer driven. I am fortunate to have an extremely talented team – committed to excellence, but not too proud – they’re genuinely excited about opportunities to improve.
We used one of our Media and Communications clients as a model for the kind of change we wanted to implement. Their strategic business partners and subject matter experts are essential to the work we do. They help us understand new products, technologies and workflows, so we can build learning solutions that deliver results throughout the enterprise. On almost every project, we found ourselves working with incredibly tight timelines for building the learning modules, because the client was simultaneously building their processes, systems, and marketing campaigns – and incidentally, taking care of the business and customers, as well.
So, we asked ourselves: how could we shorten the cycle of review and revision and add value earlier in the process? The answer, we believe, lies in spending more time up front with our clients. We need the same information to build the learning solution that they do to build the process, so we could work together earlier if we were agile enough to make quick changes as the need came up.
We found with other clients that prototyping earlier, gives our clients a sense of what the final product might look and feel like. We believe that spending less time reviewing a concept document and spending more time on building a prototype will help our clients think differently about the solution sooner, making for a smoother workflow and less rework. Their questions will be different, their ideas more focused when they see where the project is headed. Reading about the concept is good, but being able to test drive the concept is even better.
Our clients are excited about shortening the cycle of review and revision and being able to maximize the effectiveness and time commitment of their key staff. Our staff will also benefit. We work on many different initiatives with many different customers, so identifying how we can balance creativity and processes across these audiences is essential to allow our small, but mighty, team to thrive.
Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in Neptune, NJ and in Washington, D.C. The Firm’s Private Sector Practice specializes in customized learning design and delivery for the Deathcare, Financial Services, Life Sciences, and Media & Communications industries, and partners with our peers to do the same for government clientele. For more information about our services, visit us at www.mahernet.com or call us at 1-888-90-MAHER.