The client’s perspective
A quick organizational ramp-up brought growing pains to the FDA Office of Management’s new Management Services (MS) division. Created to provide oversight and administrative services for 25 FDA offices that had been administering such services internally, the new MS division was seeking a clear structure, role, goals, and success metrics. As MS leaders looked to the horizon, they wondered whether the MS division should continue growing to become a truly centralized administrative office for all of FDA or concentrate on providing a few select services.
Eagle Hill Consulting began an organizational assessment in September 2016 to clarify MS’s role and purpose; identify customer’s needs and MS service gaps; and provide recommendations for an organizational structure and process improvements that would help the division meet its aspirations.
A new view
Our work with MS ran in three concurrent streams: organizational design, process improvement and program management. Eagle Hill knew the cornerstone of MS success would be to clarify the organizational mission and goals and make sure all staff understood their roles and responsibilities within that context. Working closely with leadership, we first established a preliminary set of goals for the organization. Then, through interviews with dozens of MS stakeholders and staff, we rated the timeliness, effectiveness, and accuracy of existing MS services and compared them to best practices across the entire FDA.
Our current state assessment found that a history of staff at local offices handling the same processes in different ways led to inconsistent quality and timelines when individuals came together in the MS division. From a process improvement perspective, Eagle Hill worked with executive leadership to prioritize approximately 30 processes, which we then standardized and documented with the help of internal subject matter experts. We worked methodically, developing a detailed description, current state process map, and future state process map for each identified process. Solidifying how MS delivered its services gave staff sure footing for their daily work and brought associated improvements in management’s reporting ability and in employee and customer satisfaction.
We made two major organizational design recommendations. The first was to recommend transition to a centralized, full-service organization over a period of four years. This centralized model would be the most likely way to reduce administrative burden, minimize duplicative work within the FDA, and improve overall operational effectiveness.
Our second recommendation was to move to a customer-focused service delivery structure. Under the existing MS structure, process flow was organized by function. In other words, customers needed to know multiple points of contact and processes depending on the service needed. Under the new model, the customer has one point of contact within MS, who then pushes the service request on to the appropriate subject matter experts internally. We also inventoried existing staff capabilities in light of this new model, and identified training needs—not only related to specific functions or technology tools, but also the less tangible, but equally critical, skills of customer service, leadership, and innovation.
All of our work was tied together by EHC’s rigorous yet collaborative approach to program management. Communication was essential, and we implemented regular strategy and staff meetings to discuss strategy, needed training, and challenges and successes on the front lines of customer service. We built relationships and became an integral part of the team—validating and encouraging people.
Unconventional consulting—and breakthrough results
Eagle Hill’s work helped the Office of Management’s MS division turn a page. We established a set of goals, objectives, and performance measures for the office that have become a guidepost for everyone who works there.
By implementing structured communication and feedback processes, we have helped the MS staff feel like a more unified team. Standardizing processes has brought new rigor and consistent results. Crucially, after running our new customer-focused model in pilot we saw immediate improvements in customer satisfaction scores of 16 percent. For future improvements, we highlighted where the MS division could incorporate automation for even greater speed and quality control
Our introduction of status reporting into processes means executive leadership now has a much more accurate picture of what is happening at all levels. MS leadership is using the results from our organizational assessment to make more informed decisions about how to grow in the future.