Becoming Abaco: Six Months of Transformation
We have just crossed the six month threshold of our separation from General Electric and the creation of Abaco Systems. It has been an eventful, intense six months—at times, overwhelming and most definitely an opportunity to be inspired by the loyalty and support of our customers as well as the talent and dedication of our teams.
Looking back, I am most thankful for the tremendous support we have received from our customers. It’s clear that customers unequivocally want Abaco to succeed. In the past few months, I’ve been a part of multiple intense collaboration efforts with our customers, and continue to be overwhelmed by the positive nature of each interaction—even in difficult situations. In addition, customers have been very generous with their time and feedback. That feedback led us quickly to a transformation mindset around the following:
- Becoming an easier company to do business with
- Redefining “delivery” to align with what customers need instead of what we think we can do
- Adopting an RCCA mindset throughout … A culture of proactive learning
On “ease of doing business”:
- We have created an entirely new digital identity and are focused on creating and distributing content relevant to our customers. From a brand new web site that we’re updating and revising all the time, through wide-reaching social media engagement and a lively, informative blog, we’ve been listening to what our customers want from us—and delivering it.
- We have revised many of our inquiry-to-order processes to give customers the information they need much faster than before while providing better status along the way.
- We have simplified our terms and conditions process, so we can get to alignment faster with customers.
- We have improved our status notification processes, so customers get earlier notice of any deviations to schedule or content.
On “redefining delivery”:
- We have invested heavily in inventory, capital equipment and people to improve our delivery to customer request dates. As a result, from December to May customers have been 3x more likely to get their product on the date they requested, and we won’t stop until delivery excellence becomes an Abaco hallmark.
- We have significantly expanded our systems team to help us get from concept to production faster than ever before.
- We are increasing our spend in new product development and, as a result, 2016 should deliver a very robust portfolio of new offerings.
On “proactive learning”:
One of the biggest changes we are instrumenting started as a consequence of a tough customer session. In short, we were told by a significant customer that our company had become extremely reactive and was missing an opportunity to learn from its own mistakes. We took the feedback to heart and launched a “proactive learning” campaign, based on the principles of Root Cause and Corrective Action (RCCA). RCCA provides a process and tools for finding the true cause of events; identifying and implementing corrective actions; assessing the effectiveness of those actions; and preventing recurrence of the events. RCCAs are becoming a staple at Abaco. We follow every miss and near miss with two questions: (a) why did this happen? and (b) what countermeasures need to be in place to prevent recurrence? We share learnings with the entire Abaco team in our weekly newsletter. Most positively, we have very active participation across all functions and all aspects of our process of serving customers, from idea generation to after-sales support.
Reassembling the business
It hasn’t all been “fun and games” in the past six months. For example: reassembling the business functions (finance, IT, HR and operations) so we could operate as a standalone company at the level our customers expect has been much harder to achieve than we anticipated. The good news is that, with 115+ new resources on board and a ton of work by all of the Abaco teams, we find ourselves making great progress and are in many ways better than we were pre-Abaco.
And, wrapping with “teams”: I am incredibly proud of the Abaco team. In every role across the company, I have witnessed team members committed to living the Abaco values of customer-centricity, innovation and delivery.
We take great pride in the path we’ve traversed—and hope our customers are starting to feel the beneficial effects of our efforts. As always, I remain open to your feedback.