*In order for organizations to thrive in the 21st century global economy, knowledge workers must be allowed the flexibility and discretionary authority to offload their non-core busy work to help propel future success. From business research and data analysis to the creation of documents and other routine support, pressing the pfizerWorks ez button unburdens employees so they can implement business strategy and seek innovation *Examples of this non-core work include: data searches (business or market); manipulating data, merging spreadsheets, creating dashboards, flowcharts or graphs; creating documents (presentations, posters, meeting materials); transcribing flip chart or meeting notes; and data entry to name just a few
pfizerWorks offers Pfizer colleagues customized, just in time knowledge worker support – available 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, on demand at literally the click of a button. Goal: to allow Pfizer colleagues to ditch their busy-work to focus on core knowledge work.
- In 2005, with the anticipated loss of patent protection for Lipitor and no potential blockbuster in the pipeline to fill the anticipated revenue gap, Pfizer was looking for ways to cut costs and increase efficiencies. They launched an initiative called Adapting to Scale, aimed at centralizing and standardizing processes to improve operational efficiencies. Much to their credit, senior management empowered employees to help find solutions to increasing productivity and find smart bottom line savings
- Like most organizations, managers at Pfizer spend a great deal of time attending meetings and it’s only after hours that they can dedicate significant time to think critically, develop strategies and pursue innovation. In particular, I noticed one of my employees Paul, an MIT graduate, routinely spending time after hours doing mind-numbing work or tasks that were not only below his pay grade, but not core to his role. I knew there had to be a way to unburden him from this ‘lower value’ work so he can increase his productivity and have greater work/life balance
- At the same time, I was reading Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, a book that discusses the interconnectedness of the world’s economies and the rising access that developed nations now have (thanks to the internet), to lower cost support. This led me to consider taking advantage of the global marketplace to address the needs of Pfizer’s knowledge workers and set them free to focus on core responsibilities while also providing the opportunity to do the more innovative and stimulating work that makes coming to work something to look forward to
- So I thought, why couldn’t this work be transferred to others in or outside of the US, on a task by task basis? I decided to implement a study over a six month period, recruiting colleagues to track how they spent their time in a typical workday. This study revealed that colleagues were spending upwards of 20 – 40% of their time in non-core work, taking them away from the collaboration, networking and strategy development they are so valued for. Offloading these tasks would be a huge driver for engagement and productivity
- Q4 2005
- What started out as an idea quickly became an obsession coupled with relentless self-learning. I immersed myself in reading everything I could on business excellence and innovation and networked with anyone and everyone to expand my knowledge of the industry and come up with early strategies to position the idea for success
- Q2 2006
- The alpha prototype was built and tested. Q4 2006 enhancements addressed what didn’t work
- Q1 2007
- A pilot program was implemented to test if the concept worked on a small scale to build the business case in which to secure approval and funding
- Q1 2008
- This low-cost system allows individual employees to leverage global vendor capabilities at the click of a button (literally) to secure support for business research, data analysis and creating documents in a ‘one-stop-shop’ manner. This offers each colleague the flexibility to custom tailor support to his or her own needs. This type of ‘support-sourcing’ at the employee level, while not without challenges, it is slowly becoming the new normal at Pfizer
- When an employee needs help with a task or a project, they simply click the pfizerWorks ez button or icon on their Outlook tool bar which brings them to the Task Management System’s homepage where a service line is selected. A request form presents, which the employee populates with project details and attaches supporting documents. The submit button sends the work to a partner who responds with a follow up phone call within an hour, to make certain they understand the scope of work to be done. A project cost estimate is calculated and sent to the customer who can then either accept or reject the work based on a personal cost-benefit. Once the work is completed, the customer supplies feedback through the system which allows us to track and measure the effectiveness of partners as well as track users and usage trends. This not only allows for continuous improvement along the way but also allows employees to easily secure and assign resources, manage projects to a timeline, deliver output, be invoiced, pay for the work direct from their cost center and provide feedback on the deliverable as well as their total experience (an all new concept)
- While initially meant to provide support for ‘lower value’ needs, pfizerWorks has proven that it can take on some high value work traditionally given to highly skilled, external consultants and vendors. For example, in addition to extracting thousands of pieces of data from a database and preparing Excel pivot table reports, pfizerWorks analysts can also develop code to turn the workbook into an automated tool for high level analysis; and similarly, in addition to searching for the market data to determine if a particular business need exists, pfizerWorks professionals can organize the data from which to build the business case and prove its viability. This ‘high value’ work magnifies savings exponentially because it has the potential to reduce the traditional need for high cost external vendors and consultants, offering great savings
- Consider Tom’s pfizerWorks experience: Late one Friday afternoon, Tom, Director of Strategic Planning and Analysis, got a call from his manager, asking him to prepare a complex business analysis for the following Wednesday. Before pfizerWorks, Tom would be planning weekend work and engaging the efforts of high-priced consultants. Instead, he placed a pfizerWorks request from his laptop before catching the train home, followed by a phone conversation while en route. By Monday morning, the information was delivered via email for Tom’s analysis and by close-of-business Tuesday, the analysis was ready for his manager. pfizerWorks gave Tom the irreplaceable gift of time, cost less in terms of money and management energy, and helped him finish the work more quickly than ever before
- Consider Maryann’s pfizerWorks experience: As part of ongoing continuous improvement efforts, Maryann, Director of Continuous Improvement, needs to perform a facilities and services customer satisfaction survey of approximately 15,000 – 20,000 Pfizer colleagues worldwide. This feedback data, which will gather information on all facilities and lab maintenance, security, food services, housekeeping, mailroom, document, meeting space and fleet services across multiple locations globally, will serve as baseline information for gathering trending data moving forward and ultimately help guide decision-making for senior leaders
- Maryann’s core responsibility is to further continuous improvement efforts across all departments. For this project, her group designed and implemented the survey but then was able to hand the raw feedback to the pfizerWorks data team to analyze and quantify for outcomes reporting and sharing of insights throughout the business. Most survey software will provide basic reporting along with a list or report of feedback comments to be further analyzed. At the Continuous Improvement group’s direction, the pfizerWorks team was able to categorize those feedback comments and include them with the scoring data for greater impact. They then performed an in-depth analysis and summary of the data for reporting purposes, saving the CI group from having to do this non-core work themselves
- Above and beyond that though, because pfizerWorks offers a range of integrated services, they were able to provide Maryann with a complete end-to-end solution. She not only needs to collect the feedback data, she needs to share the insights gathered from the survey throughout the organization to help guide the continuous improvement efforts at the site level. At this point, in steps the design team. They quickly take the reporting data and create a professionally designed, bi-annual report, which was then ushered through production. “In what seems like a blink of an eye, the final printed reports were delivered and I didn’t have to get bogged down in dealing with an agency or coordinating with a printer.” In addition to time and costs saved, pfizerWorks’ ability to work as a complete end to end solution allowed Maryann to focus on her core work and made her life a lot easier
Challenge: Securing support services in a large corporation is typically fragmented – no one place for knowledge workers to secure the bundled support necessary to drive an entire initiative to completion Fix: pfizerWorks, a one stop shop for knowledge worker support.
Challenge: The model for knowledge worker support in the way that I envisioned did not exist Fix: Identify a vendor who would partner in this new way (on demand, 24/5 at highest quality and lowest cost)
Challenge: The inertia in large organizations to resist change – help employees to overcome the barriers that exist (risk, fear, trust), to step out of their comfort zone and do things differently Fix: Make it EASY, ensuring QUALITY results and provide a delightful customer EXPERIENCE
Challenge: Make it EASY Fix: Build a ‘one click’ system to access support
Challenge: Ensure QUALITY results Fix: A quality program for continuous improvement was implemented in back office User training to ensure employees successfully detail their project for desired results. A gap often exists between an employee knowing what he needs and describing those needs The contract with the partner was heavily weighted toward ensuring a good result project by project and penalties were built in for outright experience failures
Challenge: Ensure a delightful customer EXPERIENCE Fix: pfizerWorks partners must undergo rigorous customer service training in order to realize the importance of and how to handle the Pfizer colleagues with care
Challenge: Personally drive the change to help usher in ACCEPTANCE Fix: Ask colleagues to rate each experience Leveraging existing colleague relationships to get them to try the service Hold colleague hands to ensure results Ask them to advocate for pfizerWorks in their internal network Challenge colleagues to put us to the test by offering a risk-free trial period where they could perform their own side by side comparison
Challenge: Drive overall program SUCCESS Fix: Refocus knowledge workers to do what they do best Free them from work that saps their productivity Give them back the joy that comes with doing the work that excites them. committed, and productive colleagues are Pfizer’s most precious resource Stay true to the idea that highly skilled, committed, and productive colleagues are Pfizer's most precious resource.
Benefit: Increased worker productivity to refocus knowledge workers to do what they do best Metric: After less than one year, pfizerWorks has given colleagues back 66,000 hours of self-reported, productive time that can be re-focused on high value work Benefit: Cost savings Metric: pfizerWorks has delivered substantial savings in external vendor spend (work that would have been sent to higher cost, external vendors) Benefit: Give colleagues back the joy that comes with doing the work that excites them Metric: PRICELESS!
- Know what is critically important vs. important vs. nice to have (prioritize in this manner)
- Use your informal network just as much or more than the formal hierarchy
- Know what is important to you personally and never lose sight of your strengths and weaknesses
- Be passionate and show your excitement – if not, the audience/customers won’t get excited either
- Energize and motivate your team – then get out of their way
- Don’t wait until it is perfect
- Seek leadership support at every level
- Persevere, persevere, persevere!
Jordan Cohen, Seth Appel, Tanya Carr-Waldron
Entel, Traci. The Empathy Engine (http://strategyand.pwc.com/media/uploads/The_Empathy_Engine.pdf) Friedman, Thomas. The World is Flat Godin, Seth. Unleashing the Idea Virus Hamel, Gary. The Future of Management; The WSJ Blog Joachimsthaler, Erich. Hidden In Plain Sight Miller, Paddy; Wedell-Wedellsborg, Thomas. Jordan Cohen at pfizerWorks: Building the Office of the Future (http://insight.iese.edu/fichaMaterial.aspx?pk=73043&idi=2&origen=3&ar=14) Peters, Tom. Re-Imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age HSM World Business Forum and World Innovation Forum