Written by Deanna Flanagan
I interviewed Aubrey Johnson from Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) and learned some interesting things that talent development professionals can leverage. After almost two years of manually adding new hire information to a spreadsheet, the TMNA Onboarding Team used technology to automate roster management for attendees scheduled to appear at New Hire Orientation sessions.
TMNA used the Salesforce platform to build an application called Session Manager. This application automatically populates a roster of scheduled new hires, based on their start date. It also contains details of each orientation session: from the agenda, to catering details, to subject matter expert (SME) and guest speaker information, and more.
The application also allows audience metric tracking, such as number of new hires in the past quarter, new hires starting in each department, and summary counts of new hires by month (to capture trends). It has opened the door on many new ways to report and display performance data. The number of "one-off" telephone calls and emails have dropped. In contrast, where managing the roster using the manual spreadsheet method took 17 hours of work for a month; the Session Manager app reduced that work down to only five hours.
What was the most challenging part of this project? and how did you overcome it?
The most challenging part was gathering data from the “current condition” to present to leadership as a legitimate problem for the proposal, (and ultimately their approval) to launch the project. To present and visualize the current condition to Managers, data had to be captured from a multitude of places, from emails, instant messages, several different reports, and even post-it notes.
Productivity time is also part of this data. All the required tasks (before the project) were performed by different people and going to each person to get a time estimate for each of their tasks was part of this challenge. Most people don’t run a stopwatch on their tasks; and some even perform tasks concurrent to others, or sporadically, which can add to the challenge. This challenge was overcome by running a “task-time study” with the team. To prevent creating new work, we did this leveraging an upcoming [existing] work cycle.
What was the most impactful part of this project?
The most impactful part was the time reduction, and the additional benefits that we discovered the solution/tool provides. The original objective for the solution was to cause a reduction in time (i.e. roster management). During the pilot phase, we uncovered the amazing potential to provide not only time reduction, but other features such as dashboard reporting, key performance metrics, and more.
What has your team done with the extra hours?
The time saved by the reduction has allowed the team to redirect their focus to other time critical tasks to meet our customers’ expectations.
Are sprints new to your work group? Are you finding them effective? Any advice to others as they use sprints?
Good question! It’s fairly new to our group, but there were two “stigmas” we had to work hard to shake: 1 – SCRUM, and working in sprints is only for IT or Tech Groups. 2 – Working in sprints isn’t restricted to project work but can also be applied to daily work. Our team sprints are in 2-week intervals, and the beauty in this for us, is the pattern of our work (with Onboarding and New Hire Orientation) has always been in 2-week intervals, which makes working in sprints more relatable when discussing with the team. As for the effectiveness, we are still in transition, but the team does see the early value of working in sprints and sprint planning. This has helped us not only organize our work, but VISUALIZE it, making it much more measurable for team performance.
Is this being utilized by any other groups now that it is so successful?
Well, other groups are indirectly using this – meaning that now we are also capturing additional data for these groups for reporting, etc. By and large, this tool was designed be used internally (within our group) to reduce time, increase efficiency, and better serve our customers.
Any additional advice for others?
Yes. Never diminish the size and success of your project, and the positive impact of its results. I feel some teams may hesitate at submitting their work for an AXIS nomination because they feel it may not be as significant as what people are looking for. There is a tremendous amount of talent and skill in our DFW ATD community, and everyone is making a big difference in the learning and development space. Also, you want to have a “sky is the limit” mindset when it comes to creativity and innovation. Go into a project shooting for the moon to determine the innovative “what”. The perseverance, skills, and hard work of the team will drive the “how”!