When faced with particularly stubborn technology issues, some IT companies might be tempted to apply workaround solutions and call it a day. The problem is still there, but at least the end users can somewhat do their jobs. Workarounds are usually not ideal resolutions, which is why MIS focuses on finding the root cause of persistent problems.
One such conundrum was a nagging problem with a client’s barcode scanner guns. Employees of World Technology Ingredients (WTI) use these scanning devices in their warehouse and shipping departments to maintain accurate data on their inventory and to streamline shipments to their clients.
WTI, Inc., a leader in the food safety and ingredient industry, was founded more than 40 years ago by Wolfgang Ludwig, who dedicated himself to providing the food processing industry with the very best ingredients and equipment. Headquartered in a world-class facility in Jefferson, Ga., WTI provides natural ingredients to those companies that process fresh meat, poultry, seafood, deli items, fruits and vegetables. They work closely with their customers to make food safer for consumption. WTI relies on advanced technology – including scanner guns – to continue the tradition of delivering high-quality ingredients and superb customer satisfaction.
But the scanners weren’t cooperating. They would freeze several times a day which impeded their employees from working efficiently. Workers had no choice but to manually enter inventory information into their system – a time-consuming and costly process. It was a huge source of frustration for everyone involved – employees, management and the team at MIS – and it was certainly putting a strain on the relationship between WTI and MIS.
The Buck Stops Here
By all accounts, the issue did not seem to be related to WTI’s network. When MIS was brought in at the end of 2017, the MIS projects team jumped in and began addressing several urgent network issues that had not been resolved by the previous IT provider. Upgrades and changes to the core infrastructure were made to stabilize WTI’s network and prevent future disasters. MIS successfully resolved a spotty Wi-Fi problem, configured workstations that were not previously set up correctly and addressed a load-balance issue that was causing network latency. All-in-all, MIS got the network to a safe, secure and stable state.
Nor did the scanner gun issue seem to be a problem with the guns themselves or the actual software. But what was it? Bound and determined to make the client happy, MIS made it their mission to get to the bottom of the cause once and for all. They became laser-focused and leaned into the things that separate MIS from other IT companies: high accountability for the networks they manage, a strong emphasis on creating healthy relationships, steering clear of Band-Aid fixes and using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) framework to tackle issues straight on.
But getting to the root cause of the scanner gun saga proved to be a tougher nut to crack. Compounding the problem was the fact that the person at WTI who knew everything about the software applications the company used in many of its processes had just retired, leaving no documentation or information about those applications or their vendors. Nonetheless, something had to be done to fix the scanners. The employees were frustrated and the executive team was downright fed up with the whole thing. They wanted answers.
Before any steps could be taken to rectify the issue MIS needed to first find out who the software vendor was. As it turned out, there were several third-party vendors involved in the scanner guns’ functionality which complicated the matter even more. Everybody held a piece of the puzzle and it was going to take a meeting of the minds to bring it all together.
Dimitry Saknovsky, Vice President of Finance and point of contact for all things IT, joined WTI right about this time. On his third day on the new job, Dimitry sat at the large, round conference table along with Mike Brodziak, president of WTI, and the other members of the executive team; several representatives from the software application vendors; and Derek West, MIS’s account manager. It was a long, three-hour meeting, but by the end of it, everyone in the room walked away with a better understanding of what needed to happen and who would be responsible for getting WTI’s application issue fixed once and for all.
Seek First to Understand
Before the scanner gun issue could be resolved, the team at MIS needed to understand the process in which the employees were using the guns and exactly what was happening when the scanners stopped working. Was this a problem with the network? Was it a problem with the application? Or perhaps it was a problem with how the employees were using the technology. “MIS came in and documented every step of the process our shipping department staff took in using the scan guns,” said Dimitry. “By doing this, they were able to understand the workflow and take this information back to the application vendors to get the ball rolling.”
Prior to MIS coming in to get a clear picture of the process, each application vendor, working in silos, had tried different things pertaining to their respective piece of the software. Each attempt had failed to fix WTI’s problem. It wasn’t until the MIS team took a step back to see how all the pieces worked together that they were able to assemble a team of top-notch engineers from all parties involved to finally put an end to the persistent problem.
“MIS really took a leadership role as if they were a part of our company,” said Dimitry. Working together, the engineers were able to determine that it wasn’t an issue with WTI’s network; it wasn’t an issue with the vendors’ applications. Rather it was an issue created by several factors including backups and processes the employees were using that was causing the scan guns to shut down – and that would happen four or five times a day. Once that was figured out and a solution implemented, the problems stopped.
The EOS Framework
Using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) to manage client accounts is how MIS Solutions is able to quickly identify, discuss and solve any issues – whether they be people-, process- or technology-related. EOS is a set of business concepts, principles and tools that help business owners and executives run more successful businesses.
“What I like about the EOS process is the level of accountability for getting things completed successfully,” said Mike. “You don’t have to continue to revisit issues. Prior to hiring MIS, there were lingering issues and there didn’t seem to be a clear process. This fostered a feeling that balls were getting dropped. With MIS, I feel like there aren’t dropped balls; processes are documented. And I like how MIS has methodically gone through and solved our issues. MIS doesn’t give up” when looking for solutions.
One of the most useful tools of EOS is the Level 10 meeting format, which MIS uses with its clients to conduct highly efficient and effective meetings to solve the most crucial issues. The L10 format allows MIS’s account managers and our clients to cut to the chase in identifying problems and come up with permanent solutions. There’s no dead-horse beating, no finger-pointing, no time-wasting. Nothing is too big or too small to address in L10 meetings with clients. The idea is to tackle even the seemingly small items before they turn into big problems. Regular L10 meetings keep everyone on the same page and keep relationships with clients on track and healthy.
“MIS is really on top of things,” said Dimitry. “They see every ticket that’s been submitted and know what’s going on with our account. They send an agenda to me beforehand so I already know what we’re going to discuss. In the beginning, our meetings were every week and we’d have about two or three pages of stuff to go over. Now we meet monthly and our calls are about five minutes because MIS is on top of everything.”
Back on Track
The partnership between WTI and MIS has been restored to a healthy stable relationship mostly because both companies committed to doing so. They also share many of the same values.
- High accountability. Check
- No Band-Aids. Check
- Healthy relationships. Check
- Open communication and strategic problem-solving through EOS. Check.
“I can go home at night and rest knowing that if there are any problems, MIS will be there,” said Dimitry. “Our dedicated on-site technician is a rock star and everybody knows him. He is helpful, knows what he’s doing and never leaves until everything is finished. During our holiday party, I got a call from MIS telling me our servers had crashed but not to worry because an engineer would be there the next morning. It was the weekend, but he was there with one of MIS’s servers to use while he got our server back up. MIS’s service is better than anything we would be able to provide internally. It’s just phenomenal.”