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Perfection in Simplicity – Process Improvement that Inspires Everyone in the Organisation

Background 

Carte Blanche, the award-winning creator, distributor and licensor of branded gifts, cards and apparel, is best known for Tatty Teddy, the cute grey bear with a blue nose who is the signature character of the much-loved Me to You brand. The Chairman of Carte Blanche Group is Stephen Haines, who founded Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd in 1987 with a dream and a collection of just 12 greetings cards. More than 30 years on, design and innovation are at the very core of the Carte Blanche business. 

Tatty Teddy and Skore

In 2019, Carte Blanche embarked on a sustained period of change and implementation with a view to enhancing the company’s organisation and productivity. The successful implementation of two new software systems (MS Dynamics and Perfion) plus personnel changes and diversification of product offering meant Carte Blanche recognised the need to reevaluate and review operating procedures and approaches. 

Stuart Morgan, a Process Engineer with over 20 years of experience in the organisation, was tasked with leading this initiative. Aware that Carte Blanche would benefit from greater clarity and understanding of their processes he was clear from the beginning that before they started changing anything they needed to comprehend the current state of the organisation.

To successfully achieve this,, Stuart was looking for an effective solution which met the business’s needs:

‘Process mapping in the past has fallen down for two reasons – it’s been produced on sticky notes, which is laborious and inevitably wrong when you revisit it, or it’s been mapped on archaic software for which only one person in the organisation has the expertise and access. We recognised that our processes are living things – they evolve and change – and people need to be able access and understand them and easily change them when needed’

Stuart Morgan, Design Engineer, Carte Blanche

Finding the Simplest Solution 

“We chose Skore as our solution because it’s perfection as far as simplicity goes… Everyone can look at a Skore map and understand it. It’s a very simple system. Everything can be broken down into two types of boxes – what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.’

Carte Blanche used Skore initially to simply record and clarify what happened in their everyday business. A visual tool, the team used Skore to facilitate workshops and map at the speed of conversation whilst allowing their colleagues to focus on the realities of the process being recorded. At this point it became an integral tool in the business to achieve analysis and improvement. The team used Skore to note any issues or queries whilst mapping the processes. Everything was easily logged as a simple attachment in the process map. This enabled the team to carry on capturing information and engaging with colleagues whilst documenting important information. At the end of the exercise the team could export all the extra details as issue logs and use them as a checklist to resolve any issues to improve and enhance the current processes. 

Engaging the Organisation

‘We began to understand that we could use Skore as a way of engaging with a significant number of colleagues. We have the opportunity for colleagues to understand how processes work and how they can be improved. We can map technical processes and system interactions. A huge bonus is that it shows people that our processes are robust and we can dispel myths around technical issues.’

Using Skore meant they could visually display how complicated some parts of the process were which enabled them to discuss collectively in a team how to improve and make things easier. 

‘It made us start thinking differently and challenged us, we realised we could make different choices and we couldn’t have done this without Skore.’

Analysis and Improvement

With a long history and great depth of experience, Carte Blanche are proud of their diverse range of products servicing many customers with their own individual needs. When reviewing processes Skore allowed Carte Blanche to recognise what areas could be improved, record specific issues and most importantly empower the team to make changes. It enabled Carte Blanche to continue to take this diversity into account and effectively tailor processes to the individual needs of customers. 

When focusing on the Sales Process for UK Independent Customers – a vital part of the customer base, they were aware of the complexity involved with servicing them. With so many variables built in it was a good example of a complicated process. In addition, the team needed to engage with a wide audience and a range of tools, including the Operations team, the Sales team, systems used by Sales Reps, internal software systems and the introduction of new products. With Skore they were able incorporate all this information and clearly document it to whittle away perceived issues and misunderstandings. 

‘We really understood through Skore that we could clean up a messy process. It has saved us a huge amount of time by streamlining our flow of activity and understanding that, by resolving issues earlier on in the process, we could make it easier for our people to do their jobs.’ 

An Innovative Future with Skore. 

To date Carte Blanche have focused on Procurement & Inventory, Sales Orders & Fulfilment and Product Management, but recognize the potential for the rest of the organisation. Their objective is to build an even clearer and more complete picture of the business. 

‘There really is an amazing human centric benefit to Skore beyond the mechanics of process mapping’ 

The next venture for Carte Blanche is to explore the possibilities of using responsibility matrices through Skore. Using the RATSI method they will be able to define who is doing the work, who is signing it off, who is helping and who is informed. This will help everyone understand what people do, create job descriptions, understand workloads and how they can help each other. 

They also see the opportunity for employees to have complete clarity over their roles. Employees can use Skore to navigate and understand their roles. They can understand what is expected of them, where they fit in the process, to whom they speak to understand an issue, to learn how to do their job and appreciate why their role is vital. 

‘Skore has become the place to hold all that vital information. It’s so much more than we imagined at the beginning. As Carte Blanche expands and diversifies, it’s great to know we have Skore at our centre to help support all our staff to do their jobs and to keep delivering fantastic customer experiences to all our clients.’

Skore is the Process Improvement Software designed to be used and understood by everyone in your organisation. Our reporting and analytics, plus a simple two shape system, creates powerfully simple processes.

More than 30 years on design and innovation is at the very core of the Carte Blanche business and as well as growing and nurturing the Me to You brand and complementary ‘Blue Nose’ brands, My Dinky Bear for four to eight year olds, toy brand, My Blue Nose Friends and nursery brand Tiny Tatty Teddy, Carte Blanche now boasts award winning humour brand, Violent Veg, sentiment brand, Wishing Well Studios and a fast-paced, trend-led offering from Hotchpotch. Carte Blanche are also proud to license and distribute designs from Blue Mountain Arts giving customers a uniquely comprehensive offering of some of the best brands the industry has to offer. Please visit www.carteblanchegreetings.co.uk for more information. Follow us on Twitter @CarteBlancheGrp and Instagram @carteblanchegrp

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Succeed in Business Analysis

How to make sure you hit the ground running in your next project. 

A seasoned professional, Mark Jarvis has offered his consultancy services to businesses of all shapes and sizes from process-mapping in large multinationals to team building days for fledgling start ups. A natural enthusiast who believes people learn and develop best when their environment allows them to thrive, his fundamental values and approach have ensured a successful career in transformation projects. We sat down with Mark to get some of his top tips and advice on how he ensures satisfaction and successful outcomes in the projects he takes on. 

Get the right people in the room

For Mark one of the biggest challenges in any project is getting the right people in the room. Whether physically or virtually – this is vital to the success of any project. Mark is acutely aware that the people you need are inevitably the busiest. He recommends that you always ensure that your project has buy-in right from the top.

‘If the MD or a high level project sponsor gives your initiative some clout then you have momentum. Make sure you can identify if this is the case from the beginning. Projects without tend to drag on and on – wasting your time and the organisation’s.’ 

Don’t overcook it

For some in an organisation there will inevitably be some resistance to change, or a feeling that this has been done to them before. Mark appreciates that it’s part of his role to ensure that those who attend a workshop are going to come back wanting more. His advice: be prepared for your first workshop, make sure that you finish early and most importantly, that everyone gets something out of it.

‘Remember, people will talk about your workshop’ warns Mark ‘it’s up to you to ensure that it’s favourable. Make sure they go back to their colleagues understanding the value of what they just participated in, that’s going to mean future buy-in and attendance at the next workshop’. 

Facilitate other people’s success

Having worked on many software implementation projects, Mark helps organisations to capture their current and future state processes and examine the gaps between them. In Mark’s own words he thrives on helping people do the work themselves;

‘My role is to be the catalyst in the room that enables the journey for them. I allow them to discover that yes, they can do this. My role is all about facilitating success.’

Understand that your role isn’t necessarily to do the work for people but enable them to achieve it themselves. 

Make sure you have the right tools ready to use. 

Facilitation of a workshop can sound simple to the inexperienced but Mark knows that ensuring you are ready to take on the challenge is really key to the success. For Mark there are two tools that spring to mind to assist him in his endeavours. Smartsheet – a project management tool is one example. ‘It works for me every time’ says Mark, ‘it’s cloud-based and easily prompts people to do their tasks’. Alongside Smartsheet Mark uses Skore, process improvement software, in all his workshops –

‘Skore doesn’t get in the way’ – It’s really simple and easy to use. People get it, they understand it because it’s a simple, straightforward way of displaying what they are talking about. It gives me an opportunity to highlight parts of the process and engage people in a conversation’.

For Mark the conversation in the workshops are the most important aspect and these two tools really help ensure that the conversation flows from the start. 

Embrace the complexity 

Mark views the changes in his industry as challenging and exciting. Software implementation projects are becoming more complex and interconnected and this poses different challenges to business analysts. He would argue that it is harder to be definitive in this different world. ‘A lot of our work will become more nuanced’. He sees projects becoming more trial and error and seeing smaller steps of incremental change rather than the dramatic changes of the past.

‘It’s becoming a different beast and people are going to have to accept that they cannot be 100% right 100% of the time. That’s an uncomfortable place to be for many of us. We need to make sure we are ready and we have the tools ready to adapt and accept this.’ 

Leave every project well

For any of those considering a career in the industry, Mark offers up his experiences and tips to help get started. His advice is clear – stay interested. Mark observes – ‘generally people like talking about what they do. Be interested in everything. If you are a generally curious person  then that is always going to help you in this type of work.’

And his final piece of advice? Leave well.

‘Whatever the outcome of the project, even if it wasn’t as expected or didn’t finish on time, make sure that you leave on good terms. Never forget that people really buy from people. Virtually all my work comes from referrals and that is something you can’t put a value on.’

For Mark, his career has led him to experience variety and learn more about organisations he’d never considered before. Definitely an unexpected advantage, Mark considers himself really fortunate to have discovered so many interesting roles and organisations.

‘I never knew that was a thing!… is a phrase I utter a lot. I love that everyday is different and that I have learned so much from so many people – it’s truly been a fascinating journey so far!

Skore is the Process Improvement Software designed to be used by everyone in the organisation. Why not take a trial and find out how easy it is.

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Partnership Announcement – Skore and Softools

Skore is delighted to announce a partnership with Softools – the no-code development platform for enterprise quality DIY apps.

Softools is an advanced zero code web application platform that enables users to build and deploy business process apps in hours. They will be recommending Skore’s process mapping software to their partners and customers as they firmly believe understanding a process is essential to successful digitisation.

Vipul Lakhani, Chief Commercial Officer, said

‘Historically we know that great application solutions have always involved our partners mapping out the process. It is vital for our customers to understand their business processes so they can identify opportunities to improve the process before digitising and then use this understanding in their training to increase adoption. Skore’s easy intuitive software platform enables us to achieve this effectively’.

Softools will use Skore as part of their offering as the simplest way to map out processes and together are considering further platform integrations. That future would enable Skore customers to not only identify but also execute digitisations. For Softools, the benefits would focus on enabling their App Builders to better understand processes that they are digitising and to support training and change management.

Chris Green, Chief Commercial Officer, Skore, said

‘Being able to create business applications in hours is hugely powerful, yet we still see teams spending far too long discovering and defining the problems to solve. Using Skore, you can now engage all people in an easy to understand methodology that takes hours, not days. Coupled with the Softools platform, customers can now deliver rapid results across the whole project lifecycle.’

The partnership between Softools and Skore presents the opportunity to ensure clients wanting to digitise their processes are offered a solution that not only looks at the implementation but also furthers the success and adoption of any application.

Vipul Lakhani added,

‘Having an understanding of your business processes is a vital element to success. Our shared values of collaboration, enabling visibility and governance ensure that this partnership will pave the way for a prosperous and successful relationship between us.’

Craig Willis guest speaker on Improvement Nerds Podcast

Skore’s CEO, Craig Willis, had the great opportunity recently to be invited on to the Improvement Nerds Podcast. Talking about the power of process mapping as a communications tool, Craig explained how capturing a process opens up so many opportunities for discovery and reflection. Of course using Skore as a model means that this process revolution is collaborative and easy too!

Find out more about what he had to say here.

Service Issue 20th January 2021

We are aware that some users have reported experiencing issues whilst using the Skore platform.

Our internal systems alerted us to this issue at 13.33 (GMT) and full service was restored by 14.26 (GMT). 

Some users were unable to connect to the server and some other users may have lost recent edits within this time window.

We are currently performing an investigation to understand the cause of these issues. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may have caused you.

Craig Willis, Chief Executive Officer.

Skore Co-Founders Feature on Podcast

This month, co-founders Chris Green and Craig Willis were invited to speak on the Rethink Productivity Podcast.

Chris and Craig had the opportunity to elaborate on how Skore makes Process Mapping and Improvement simple. Discussing how a structured and interactive approach to process discovery is the way forward, they demonstrated how easy it can be to map a process at the speed of conversation.

You can listen to the podcast in full here:

Ending 2020 on a high with a Skrum.

Our Skrum networking and learning event in December sparked lively conversations and generated some great networking connections.

Skore ran their final event of 2020 on Tuesday 8th December. Skrum has been a constant in the Skore event calendar for several years and in 2020 has successfully moved online in response to the pandemic.

For the team, one of the greatest advantages of this has been the larger numbers we have been able to welcome to the event which previously were held face to face in UK venues such as in London or Sheffield. In the most recent online events we’ve had attendees from the United States, India, South Africa and Nigeria, to name a few.

Skrum event

This time our theme focused on Cloud Computing and the impact it has had on Small and Medium Enterprises. Craig Willis, one of Skore’s co-founders, kicked off the event by elaborating on the size of the SME market and the potential for Change and Transformation professionals. Craig discussed what steps could be taken to aid SMEs on their growth strategy and how to position yourself in the market. A panel discussion followed. Hosted by Skore’s Angus Sim, our two guest speakers Lucy Beck from A2Z Cloud and Rowan Van Tromp from App Advisory Plus, provided their expertise and views on the topic.

Skrum Guest Speakers

The event finished with a lively networking session and an opportunity for all our attendees to contribute and comments on the points raised. In a time of remote working it was great to see so many people get involved and contribute. We are already excitedly planning our next event in February. Watch this space for more details soon.

Sign up for news on all our SKRUM networking events here.

Skore Community November Update

It’s been a rewarding month for our new Community as our membership grows. Additional content has been included and it’s become a useful conduit for problems to be shared. It’s also been an opportunity for the Skore team to receive more product feedback and easily access requests for help.

Weekly Drop Ins on Friday mornings at 9.30am have been a great way to address issues that members have raised during the week. So far these sessions included:

  • Procure to Pay template  – Craig Willis, Co-Founder and CEO shared his P2P template. The group learned how to use colours to highlight specific steps in the process, for example – when a control function takes place. We also learned more about the power of Custom Field boxes. In this case how they can be used to identify exceptions, improvement ideas, control points and risks. 
  • Colin Claverie, Co-Founder and CTO ran through the new Quantify module. Feedback from this session greatly assisted the Product team in creating a new guide and three comprehensive how to videos. These guides and videos are available through the Community and on Youtube. 
  • Finally Colin was back again in our last Drop In Clinic to take users through how to organise processes in a workspace. The feedback from these sessions is also invaluable to the Product and Technical team as they continue to evolve and develop Skore’s comprehensive Product Roadmap. This will include new ways to help users organise processes and create links between them making it easier to run analytics especially when there is a complex hierarchy. 

If you’d like to learn more about these particular sessions you can find the output and recordings in the Community. To get involved in our next Drop In sessions and be able to suggest future topics then please get in touch and make sure you are signed up to our Community. If you would like a call to run through any aspect of your use of Skore please contact Angus Sim [email protected]

New Quantify Module Released This Week

Skore will be releasing the new and improved Quantify module on Wednesday 25th November 2020 at 12am (GMT).

The enhanced version enables users to:

  • Understand how long and how much it costs to perform a process 
  • Understand roles utilisation in terms of time, costs or FTE (Full Time Equivalent)
  • Identify bottlenecks in your process (in terms of time, FTE or costs)
  • Simulate volumes of activities and FTE availability for a given role
  • Simulate different scenarios (e.g. as-is, to-be)
  • Configure work conditions (number of working hours per day / per week) for your simulation

If you’d like to learn more we’ve created this handy guide to show you exactly how new Quantify will improve your Skore experience. The PDF guide can be downloaded here.

If you have any further questions about using Quantify you can always access our online Skore Community to post questions or find out more about Skore Features and use cases. You can join the community here.

Skore collaborates with local Process Automation company.

Based in Portsmouth, UK, Skore, the Process Improvement Software company has welcomed the opportunity to work with another innovative local start up in the same industry.

Skore have now joined forces with Intelligent Actions. This Portsmouth based company provides customised automated workflow solutions to clients.  Its founders, Steve Humphrey and David Blagden have over twenty years experience of business process automation and project management. Intelligent Actions allows small and medium sized companies to justify the cost of automating business workflows.

Spotting a great fit between the two companies, Intelligent Actions will use Skore’s intuitive and user friendly interface to easily map out, understand and document processes. Flexible and adaptable to any business, Intelligent Action’s product complements the advanced and versatile approach that Skore has to any organisation.

Chris Green, Chief Commercial Officer of Skore, commented:

‘Working and supporting local businesses is always rewarding. Being able to potentially join forces with another process led, leading edge organisation is not only great for business but also further champions the growth of technology based organisations in the region.’

Intelligent Actions offers Skore users the chance to take the next step in Automation. By identifying and quantifying the opportunities in their organisations they can drive efficiencies and growth across their business.

‘If you can capture a business process with Skore, we can build you a custom automated business workflow system’

said David Blagden, Co-Founder of Intelligent Actions.

The complementary product offerings mean that by working together, Skore and Intelligent Actions create a comprehensive enhanced picture of the actual process performance. Using Skore to define the process and build a viable business evolution means Intelligent Actions will be able to create a truly scalable solution to clients that is not available anywhere else.

To find out more visit the Intelligent Actions website here