Asked Questions about
What Is AIM – Activity Information ModelingTM?
AIM is new management tool. It achieves new results by providing managers with new information that is more effective than any they've ever used. It’s both an information system and a management methodology. The information system collects, files, analyzes and reports data about your operation, your service/products and your customers. The management methodology achieves new results by helping you make better, smarter decisions using models of your operations and what you can do to improve them.
AIM simply makes you smarter and more effective than you’ve ever been before because it shows you what’s possible.
Why are managers more effective with AIM?
AIM gives managers a double loop approach, explained and promoted by Peter Senge in his bestselling book The Learning Organization.
The common management review and adjust activity is supplemented with the ability to precisely predict performance, before it occurs. Knowing what will happen allows managers to avoid poor performance by making small, incremental changes. This approach is also much easier on the organization. Changes are small but constant. Without models to predict performance, organizations are forced to wait until the corrective change is large scale and tumultuous.
What kind of information does AIM provide?
AIM gives you:
activity time and activity costs
What's unique about AIM?
AIM is the only system that automates the collection, filing, and reporting of your time and its cost. It will collect and measure any operating variable that you can define. One client determined the metrics of 22 different call outcomes, pinpointed the most expensive types of calls and quickly eliminated them.
Why is AIM better than the way I've collected this information before using surveys, meetings, observations and process mapping?
AIM has proven to be superior to all other methods of collecting and analyzing operational information in many ways because it is:
Surveys are very expensive to design and compilation can take weeks. Meetings are time consuming and prone to group perceptions rather than facts. Desk logs are subject to inaccurate information. Observations are limited to a few people during a short interval and will have the "Hawthorn Effect" (people do what they think you want to see). Some information, such as "the total cost of my services for a specific industry", are impossible to collect using existing methods because the needed data is dispersed throughout many departments.
Process mapping is very valuable but it only depicts the superficial sequence of activities. It lacks the metrics and depth that make it a decision making tool. We often combine AIM with clients’ process maps to create process models.
How does AIM collect the data?
AIM uses a data collection system that collects information from people at their desks as they work. They see a pop-up window on their computer screen with drop-down pick lists. They select their activity and other information by clicking their mouse on the items listed. With 3 or 4 mouse clicks in 3-4 seconds, they’re finished.
The data is collected by randomly sampling each person. The sampling frequency is usually set between 1 and 3 times per hour, depending on the nature of their job. For instance, customer service personnel who handle activities that average 15 to 30 minutes would be sampled 2 or 3 times an hour.
Underwriters who handle activities that average 1 hour would be sampled once an hour. The person does not have to complete the window form and the system records this as a “miss”.
Don’t the pop-up windows bother people?
People are never bothered by the pop-up window because it’s just like any other window they use all day long in opening, editing and filing all of their other work. They’re used to pop-up windows and they don’t find them intrusive nor time consuming.
What if they’re not at their desk?
When people go to meetings they tell the system what they're doing and for how long. The system will not sample them again until they return.
Is it hard to learn the system?
It’s only a pop-up window that is used with mouse clicks so they already know everything they need to know. The introduction and training takes less than 30 minutes. They’re given a reference guide to keep on their desk.
What about people who travel?
The system is used on laptops for people who are out of the office for 2 or 3 days at a time. When travel is high, they use a PDA such as a PalmPilot.
How do people react to the system?
They welcome it. They're glad management recognizes that they, the employees understand their work best. They also realize that their input is much more accurate because of the sampling system. They're happy to help management improve operations because AIM makes it easy.
How do you work with me?
AIM is implemented by expert consultants
with extensive operations research, improvement and re-engineering experience.
We design your studies with you, based on your specific needs and goals. You need
only tell us what you want to know and what you want to achieve. We prepare your
final reports with you to make sure they’re exactly what you need.
Our approach makes it easy for your managers to actively participate. We work closely with them to make sure their study is valuable and exactly what they need. We teach them what the model data affect and show them how to achieve improvements.
What if my managers don’t have the skills to make changes to their processes and employees’ jobs?
We will provide training workshops, if you need them, on topics such as these.
Ø Process analysis and design
Ø Staffing models and organization design
Ø Integrating technology
Ø Managing customers’ needs and expectations
Ø Quality management tools
Ø Using metrics, benchmarks and performance models
These workshops combine half-day classroom training sessions with hands-on implementation projects in managers' own departments.
Is AIM a one-time study or long-term program?
AIM is a permanent management tool that permanently improves your effectiveness and performance. Models of your operation will be built in about 6 weeks. These models will show you where your opportunities are to improve your performance. After you’ve made your improvements you’ll want to update your models. You then have models for your daily management decisions, such as pricing and staffing. We recommend you turn the system on again to update your model every 12 months or when there is a significant change in your operation, such as a new processing system.
Deliverables & Benefits
Ø Triple your BPR (business process re-engineering) results. "BPR projects that incorporate the use of ABC (activity based costing) will achieve average benefits of three or more times those of projects using only traditional cost accounting." Gartner Group, Activity Based Costing and BPR, Nov. 26,1996.
Ø Comprehensive. Imagine having 3 teams of 10 consultants working with 5 departments in different cities at the same time... observing every thing that occurs and recording it in a powerful database! AIM collects and analyses quantities of data that have never been considered possible. Yet this is achieved with only 1 or 2 consultants. Our technology and operations research methodology makes this possible.
Ø Quick. Within weeks you will have; activity costs, process information and insights into your staff's skills and job assignments. AIM studies can be completed in as little as 3 weeks, most take about 5. This is a fraction of the time it takes a team of consultants using traditional methodologies or your own staff.
Ø Highly Accurate. Because this methodology encompasses hundreds and usually thousands, of activity records, the findings are extremely accurate. In follow-up tests for accuracy, staffing models were within 3%, activity costs were 1.5 to 3% and completed operations/product costs were within 3%. No other method, or combination of methods, comes close to this level of accuracy.
Ø Non-intrusive to staff. Personnel complete a pop-up window on their computers to record their activities. They only have to make a few mouse clicks to make their selections. This is very different from the traditional method of consultants interrupting staff by interviewing, watching, logging, sometimes for many weeks, to collect activity and customer data.
Ø Data is collected when employees are out of the office. The studies collect all activity data, even when personnel are out of the office, working at home or traveling.
Ø Versatile. Data can be collected on every operational aspect and dimension including venders and customers. If you can identify it, we can collect, analyze, measure and model it.
Ø Powerful reports. AIM reports analyze your operational information, compare your information and summarize the findings and conclusions. These reports are prepared with you on a customized basis based on what you want and need... they are not canned.
Ø You retain the information. We provide you with the database we use with all of your information. You will be able to reference it for baseline, benchmark, cost and other reports long after the project is over.
Ø Event analysis. AIM provides an easy and quick program for improving events. Operations have many events that aren't routine processes and can't be improved with process analysis, often in sales, management, legal, engineering, etc. While process mapping and process analysis are good tools and are common in most businesses, they are only effective for routine, frequent and similar activities. Only AIM can tell you about both your processes and events and how to improve them.
Ø Results can be guaranteed. The management team assigned to an AIM project can guarantee the quantitative and qualitative improvement opportunities. All the numbers are certain, accurate and thoroughly understood. This allows your ROI (return on investment) to be accurately projected and rapidly achieved.
Ø Your managers implement changes with confidence. AIM provides your managers with their optimal opportunities and goals. They see their possibilities. They quickly implement their changes with confidence and conviction because AIM eliminates the “blind-spots” that could snag their change program.
Ø The findings are impartial. Your findings and information about: costs, quality, productivity, capacity, etc., are impartial. You need the truth… not employee perceptions, to effectively address your problems.
“Measurement turns vision into strategy and strategy into fact.” Fredrick F. Reichheld, The Loyalty Effect