Group 8 Written Report
Before the project, Le Chateau Apartments had several serious problems relating to the ordering and organization of supplies. Management realized it was spending too much money on materials that it already had and did not need. After this project, the apartment complex has a detailed inventory system, an organized storage warehouse, and has seen a decrease in the purchase of unneeded supplies. These results did not come easily. The success of this project was the result of a detailed process, which involved changing many of the daily operations of the management. This process can be grouped into five basic tasks; Determining and understanding the problem; devising a solution; obtaining input from the management and maintenance staff; implementing our solution; and evaluating changes resulting from the project.
Our first task was to develop a thorough understanding of the problem and to familiarize ourselves with the operations of the apartment complex. To do this, we met with the senior manager, Deanna Williamson. She informed us that the most serious issue with regard to the supplies problems was cost. She explained that costs were simply too high and that money was being wasted on unneeded supplies. We learned that much of this waste was the result of reordering supplies that were already on hand. We also learned that many supplies that were in stock would disappear in the back of some of the maintenance personnelís trucks. Much of the apartment complexís inventory would be missing without any explanation. This was the result of Le Chateau Apartments not having an inventory system of any kind. The missing and misplaced inventory caused the maintenance personnel to waste time searching for inventory that was not there. The lack of an inventory system also caused maintenance personnel to purchase inventory that they had, but could not locate.
After we had a good understanding of the nature of the problems, our next task was to begin developing a solution. After using fishbone diagrams and other methods to chart the problems discussed with Deanna, our group was all in agreement that the root cause was the lack of a functioning inventory system. We reasoned that if both the maintenance staff and the management were well informed of what supplies were on hand and when ordering was necessary, inventory costs would decrease and maintenance personal would be able to work more efficiently.
We decided to first organize the inventory in the inventory shop so that maintenance personal would be able to know the exact location of all the inventory items. To help the maintenance personal we decided to clearly label the inventory where appropriate. Our next step was to place two dry erase boards in the inventory shop. One would be used for checking out large items and the other would serve to constantly keep track of inventory. The dry erase board designed to keep track of inventory will have the items name, a place to record the amount of inventory remaining, and the reorder point. As a worker takes inventory, they will replace the number in the remaining inventory column to reflect the amount remaining. The dry erase board also has a list of the reorder point, which will alert the worker to notify management to reorder that inventory item.
Once we had devised what we believed to be a realistic and practical solution to many of Deanna's headaches, we interviewed many people who were affected by the supply problems in order to obtain their input. Andy Williams, a maintenance supervisor, expressed great interest in our ideas. He mentioned the frustration he experienced with he searched for supplies and tools. He explained that all the members of the staff would willingly participate with our planned solution, despite our concerns that checking items out or subtracting items from the boards would be tedious. Another member of the staff, Jackson Buell, explained that he would be willing to check out a hammer or a drill, but "would not be too crazy about counting out a handful of nails." Other employees we interviewed where also supportive and interested in our ideas, and their input helped us greatly in making small alterations to our plan.
After speaking with employees, we were confident in proceeding with the implementation of our plan. Our first task was to organize the maintenance shop. Upon examining this shop, it was clear that while the maintenance staff may have been adept at fixing toilets or stoves, their organization skills were far less than perfect. Shelves were cluttered and their existed no apparent method of organization whatsoever. We developed a general system of placing together similar items, and made use of the many small-unused boxes in an attempt to establish some order on the large shelves. After accomplishing this task to our satisfaction, we began the inventory. We decided, thanks to Jackson's advice only to include items that would realistically be counted and we were sure to include items for which shortages often existed. We also developed a sign out board that listed items that were often lost or not returned after use. This board included items such as drills and hammers and was designed to show when the item was used last and who used it.
After our solution was implemented, our next task was to examine the changes in inventory expense, if any, to determine if we were successful or if further changes were necessary. We obtained from Deanna the purchase orders from each of the last four weeks as well as an average weekly expense total for the previous year. The previous year's weekly expenses were approximately $500. The weekly expenses of the previous four weeks were also approximately $500. After the inventory was put into place, expenses rose to $635, which resulted from bringing all inventory items up to the recommended reorder points on our inventory. The next week's expenses saw a dramatic decrease to $378. We also talked to many of the maintenance personnel whom we had spoken with before the inventory. Jackson was very satisfied with the results and said, "Now you all need to come organize my apartment" and after gracefully declining his request, we proceeded to talk to the other staff members who shared Jackson's gratitude.
After analyzing all data and talking to the employees of the apartment complex, we believe the project was a complete success. Not only was everyone happy with the results, the success of the project was also evident in the purchasing data. The decline in supplies' expenses that existed after the inventory system was put into practice is expected to continue and our hard work has appeared to have paid off.