After investment in a new ERP system (SAP), Cadbury were experiencing significant business challenges with their product development ‘engine’. Inefficient processes were leading to delays in new products being delivered to market, and this ran the risk of damaging relationships with key customers. Hypotheses around data quality were being explored, but ‘broken data processes’ had become shorthand for issues around people’s understanding of how data supports the business process. It was time for a root cause assessment of what was driving the delays.
Ignite discovered that whilst improvements in the efficiency of the delivery engine for product development were needed, problems existed in processes elsewhere across the organisation. As a result, ‘Project Adrenalin’ – enabling Cadbury to build faster and more effective ways to deliver products and product changes to market – was launched with our support.
Project Adrenalin drove changes to ways of working across a range of areas – a more streamlined and cost-effective process for making minor changes to existing products, a focus on educating staff who needed to understand how their data was used across the whole product development lifecycle, and a clearer project management process for those most closely involved in product development.
The result was greater visibility (and predictability) of key milestones, so fewer unexpected issues, and a far reduced error rate in the information used to drive the product development process. This in turn improved relations with key customers who at last felt that they could rely on the new product information provided to them.
What made it successful
- Early engagement with those impacted by the delays – we met a wide range of internal stakeholders to get their views on the root causes of the issues
- A bold approach to collating those views – we ran a full-day workshop for 25+ people, most of whom had never before had the opportunity to talk about the challenges they were facing
- Use of insight – we used the idea of telemetry in Formula 1 races to show how in-flight data can be instrumental in spotting issues before they get too serious. We also talked about how low-cost airlines have found smart ways to optimise efficiency in their processes
- Keeping a relentless focus on outcomes – At the end of the first major workshop, we mapped all the good ideas for resolution onto a wall-sized matrix of impact and do-ability. We tackled the easier ideas first, but kept a clear eye on the big hitting ideas that would take longer to deliver
- Having an organised approach to delivery – We set up 12 workstreams, each focusing on a specific improvement area. We had light touch governance, but a heavy dose of stakeholder engagement, so as to keep up everyone’s interest in and contribution to the solutions.