Every Monday morning, I participate in a tried and true 15 minute practice for increasing communication in any type of workplace - whether you are a manufacturing plant or a software development company. Our communication exercise is simply titled, Weekly Highlights. My Highlights are a brief summary of what my department, Quality Assurance, and I achieved the previous week and what we look forward to accomplishing in the upcoming week. This takes about 15 minutes to write and then I submit it for compilation by noon. By about 2 p.m., I receive the compiled IQMS version.
Randy Flamm, president of IQMS, started the Highlights program several years ago as a form of internal communication between all departments. Managers, supervisors, Professional Services Group (PSG) employees and sales personnel submit their Highlights for compilation. In turn, these same employees receive the compiled version the same day. It allows us to keep a finger on the pulse of the principal activity at IQMS.
This 15 minute exercise has three parts: Highlights, Lowlights and Looking Ahead. Highlights includes what projects and issues we've worked on. Lowlights does not usually contain many items because even if a goal isn't completely met, as long as we've made progress, that's still a Highlight. On occasion, someone will submit a Lowlight and we all jump in to attempt to help each other out. In my case, if I can't seem to get past an obstacle and I've exhausted my known resources, I'll post it to Lowlights. Often, another manager will respond with a suggestion or help me to get past the obstacle. Looking Ahead is a list of our upcoming projects.
Highlights don't replace our utilization of CRM. We still enter all support call notes, sales cycle information, implementation trip reports, etc. into CRM. Highlights direct our attention to what's important that week and then we rely on CRM to give us the details.
I look forward to the opportunity to see where our salespeople are in the sales cycle with their prospects. Our salespeople generally include an overview of the type of manufacturing the prospect performs, who their target customers are, how EnterpriseIQ will fit their needs and what competition we are up against. I also pay close attention to implementation notes, gap analysis and issues our PSG team has submitted. Reading the sales and PSG Highlights reminds me how diverse our customers' needs are and how important it is to provide them with world-class manufacturing ERP software and support. Sometimes, I'm able to jump in and offer a suggestion or act as a conduit to another department if I am familiar with software development that fits the needs of the customer or prospect.
The Highlights program has been successful at IQMS because we take the time to submit and read them. It benefits our employees and our customers and it only takes 15 minutes a week.
What other quick exercises are out there to increase company communication?