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DB&A Project at Bioreliance

DB&A Project at Bioreliance

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Published by Fred Apple

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Published by: Fred Apple on Apr 21, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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DeWolff, Boberg & Associates
is a managementconsulting firm specializing in helping companiesof every description achieve their objectives throughimproved performance or resource utilization.
BioReliance Case History
That legacy of excellence continuestoday, as BioReliance provides ser-vices for high-profile customersworldwide, including a recent con-tract with the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention for 40million doses of smallpox vaccine.As BioReliance Chief ExecutiveOfficer Capers McDonald said,“Quality assurance is held as oneof our highest values. It is a part of our brand, our legacy and companyculture. It cannot be weakened.”So what was a strong, quality-driven company like BioReliancelooking for when it enlistedDeWolff, Boberg and Associates?A perfect balance of scientificreasoning and business sense.
Transforming Science Into a Business
Heavily anchored in a scientificculture, BioReliance’s top executivesknew that their business processesneeded fine-tuning. Although thecompany was recognized as aleader in quality and science, manyof its PhD-educated managerslacked the business experiencenecessary to improve internalprocesses—and the bottom line.One of McDonald’s primary goalsin enlisting DeWolff, Boberg andAssociates was to find ways toreduce cycle times and better keep
is a company that really has itsscience “down to a science.”
A leader in biological testing and productionservices for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceuticalcompanies, the company has been an industry leadersince 1955, when it supported the development andproduction of the first polio vaccines.
Today, it’s not enough to have the latest technology, the most highlyeducated staff, or even the best quality product. To remain competitive,the successful company must constantly evaluate its business perfor-mance—from managerial skills to fundamental processes. With somuch to consider, it’s not surprising that more leading-edge companiesthan ever are seeking outside help for training and development.
deadline commitments for custom-ers. He was also aware that lack of supervisory skills was resulting inincreased turnover, and that track-ing and recording some proceduresneeded improvement.Based on recommendations,McDonald knew that DeWolff,Boberg and Associates would workone-on-one with staff at differentlevels of the company to achieve aninternal culture shift. “We neededperson-to-person engagement atmultiple working levels. I didn’twant someone to come in and onlyconsult with me and the seniorstaff,” said McDonald. “And that’swhat DeWolff, Boberg and Associ-ates offered, more so than the otherfirms we considered.”
Working Toward a Common Goal
DeWolff, Boberg and Associatesoutlined two basic areas of financialimprovement for BioReliance: first,to increase revenue through betterutilization of existing capacity, andsecond, to improve cost-effective-ness overall. The improvement goalwas set at just over $2 millionannually (BioReliance’s 2000 rev-enue was just shy of $56 million).DeWolff, Boberg and Associates’clarity on goals gave McDonaldconfidence going into the project.“DeWolff, Boberg and Associates’guarantee is a well-communicated,visible commitment to work to-wards specific kinds of savings,”said McDonald. “Everything wasvery well documented.”
Uncovering the Issues and InitiatingSolutions
The 22-week engagement beganwith an in-depth examination of cycle times. BioReliance has twomeasurable cycles: the front-endcycle, which starts with the cus-tomer placing an order and endswith lab initiation, and the back-end cycle, which begins with labcompletion and wraps up withreport completion and invoicing.Most lab processes at BioRelianceinvolve incubating various biologi-cal materials, with testing timesdependent on biology or regulatedby the FDA, making it impossible toshorten cycle time. When DeWolff,Boberg and Associates performedcapacity studies, however, they didfind that some existing equipmentwas only about 60 percent utilized.“The perception was that they wereat 100 percent capacity,” said BrianPhillips, Chief of Operations forDeWolff, Boberg and Associates.“The salespeople were being toldthat they couldn’t bring any morework into several laboratories.”Better use of capacity combinedwith other factors resulted in a 16percent improvement in front-endcycle time overall. But most impres-sive was the back-end cycle timereduction. By streamlining reportingprocesses, DeWolff, Boberg andAssociates was able to show per-sonnel how to reduce back-endcycle time by a stunning 65 percent.“The reduction in cycle timeswasn’t only a money issue, it wasa customer service issue as well—to make sure that the reports weregetting out on time,” said ChristineMcDowell, Project Manager forDeWolff, Boberg and Associates.The most significant change inback-end cycle involved makingquality assurance a built-in part of the cycle, rather than a separateactivity. In addition, processchanges were put into effect thatprevented final reports from goingback and forth multiple times.“Interaction between quality assur-ance and the operating laboratoryhas seen a marked improvement,”said McDonald. “DeWolff, Bobergand Associates looked for ways tobuild in the QA process fundamen-tally, as opposed to just auditingreports at the end. They gave us areal momentum in terms of improv-ing that communication.”
Building a Better Company with theRight Tools
Prior to the DeWolff, Boberg andAssociates engagement, few mea-sures were taken at BioReliance toquantitatively analyze performanceat the laboratory level. DeWolff,Boberg and Associates introduced
specialized “key indicators,”enabling employees to measuredepartment performance and giv-ing them information they coulduse to work more efficiently.BioReliance now measures indivi-dual laboratory productivity inrevenue dollars per labor hour.They also measure factors suchas cycle time, error rate, deviationrate, percentage on-time, and back-log. “We took them from lookingonly at monthly revenue dollarsto looking at specific key businessmetrics on a two-week basis ingreater detail,” said Phillips.Key indicators continue today as anintegral part of communication atBioReliance. “They are reviewedat our monthly business reviewmeetings, discussed at the vicepresidential staff meeting every twoweeks, and are part of the monthlyreporting that’s ongoing,” saidMcDonald. “They’re used in thelaboratories both by individualsand by the managers, and they’reeven a part of the goals and incen-tive plan for our vice presidents.”Other systems implemented toimprove communication includedaily plans, barrier logs, and actionplans. Said Phillips of BioReliance’snew approach: “There’s a lot of measuring going on, a lot of identi-fying problems and asking ques-tions. Follow-up on issues is a lotquicker now.”
Empowering the Workforce with SolidBusiness Skills
A series of workshops introducednew business concepts and manage-ment techniques to directors andmanagers. One-on-one coaching atthe vice presidential and directorlevels provided further reinforce-ment for the BioReliance team. Inaddition to managerial training,DeWolff, Boberg and Associatesuncovered areas where theworkforce could be better utilized.“People are being cross-trained andare able to support different labora-tories with similar technologies andwork processes,” said McDonald.“We’re doing more of that than wedid in the past.”DeWolff, Boberg and Associates alsoreinvigorated BioReliance’s interestin new employee training. “Becauseof the nature of our business, weoften hire expert technical peoplethat lack a strong business back-ground,” said McDonald. “Before,we weren’t providing adequatetraining in areas such as supervisorytechniques. Now, we’re more awareof what new hires need and we’reproviding training that addresses allfacets of our work.”
Even In Science, Business Sense Pays
With the help of DeWolff, Bobergand Associates, BioReliance was ableto substantially improve cycle timesand productivity. Based on progressto date, BioReliance should yieldmore than $3 million in savingsannually—far surpassing the initialgoal of $2 million.Changes for the better can be seenacross BioReliance’s operations.Using key indicators has improvedmeasurement and reporting and hasclarified priorities to workers,making employees a part of the

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