Oxford Holt & Company

Supply chain improvement

Our client is from a contract engineering-type background and has operated successfully as an independent business since the 1930's.  The company is seen as a market leader and supplies products to some of the World's top names.

Following a period of sustained growth, it became evident that inefficiencies in the supply chain were resulting in customers being consistently let-down by late deliveries.  Cash flow was also suffering as a result of outstanding orders at the month end that could not be invoiced.

We were asked to examine all aspects of the supply chain, from order input through to despatch and to recommend a course of action that would reduce or eliminate the problem.  Also, to implement controls and KPI's to ensure that the situation could be effectively monitored to prevent a re-occurrence of the problem in the future.

Having involved key staff throughout the process, including a number of suppliers, our findings contained 36 recommendations that spanned seven parts of the supply chain - ALL of which were adopted.  We also provided an action plan and consultancy input to ensure that the recommendations became reality. 

In terms of savings, there was a productivity gain of 10% in relation to clerical effort, in conjunction with a reduction of £500,000 in working capital

The project was completed within the agreed time-scale and fee structure.

Quality management strategy

This client is part of a larger international group comprising of several United Kingdom subsidiaries.  There were three separate manufacturing sites each employing between 150 and 300 staff.  They traded as separate companies, although they were broadly similar in terms of the products and administration systems. 

However, although the first company operated successfully to ISO 9000 standards, the picture across the group as a whole was very different:

  • The second company had not kept up-to-date with ISO 9000 and could have lost BSI accreditation at the next assessment if    action was not taken in the near future
  • The remaining company did not have a formal quality management system, but still carried out many of the BSI requirements

Customers in this industry no longer saw ISO 9000 as a necessity; consequently, the marketing advantages of registration were diminishing.  The main question for the client was, what direction they should take with regards to ISO 9000 and quality management in general?  Our brief was to examine the role of quality management within all three companies and to recommend a course of action.  The project had to be completed quickly if one of the group companies was to prevent accreditation lapsing before a clear direction was determined.

Without going into specific detail, the report was delivered to the Group MD within the proposed time scale and at an agreed fee.  The final decision was taken and the group embarked upon their long-term strategy.  Changes to the Quality Management operations saved the group around £70,000 per annum.

Process improvement

We were selected from an initial invitation to tender involving more than 50 bidding companies.  The brief was to examine the outpatient referrals process in an NHS hospital employing 5,500 staff, from GP referral, through to the patient being discharged. 

The objectives were to undertake a process improvement exercise, to recommend how things could be improved and to provide a basis for future planning and decision-making.  This entailed mapping and detailing the entire process, including:

  • GP referral
  • Appointment booking
  • Clinic preparation
  • Medical records
  • Consultant appointments

The processes were mapped and analysed in terms of flow charts, and detailed descriptions of the stages involved.  In addition, statistical data and outline facts were included as requested.  The outcome was a project that was delivered well within budget and to the exact time scale.  There were more than 25 recommendations; the vast majority of which were successfully implemented.

Management and cost accounting

Recent changes in ownership at this £10m turnover fabrication company highlighted the fact that management accounts and product costings were inaccurate, inconsistent and confusing. 

The new Chief Executive had other European business interests, meaning that his time on-site was limited and he required concise and meaningful reports that allowed him to manage the business from a distance.

The company operates in an extremely price sensitive market, where accurate costs and controls are crucial to maintaining profitability.  The products were relatively easy to replicate and competitors were beginning to undercut prices in certain areas.

We were asked to devise an up-to-date and accurate product costing system and to simplify management accounts and other controls.

In terms of product costing, the raw material prices were constantly fluctuating and several new costings were required on a daily basis.  To combat this, we provided the raw data and produced a series of simple spreadsheets that allowed the main variables to be keyed-in and a selling price calculated in a matter of seconds!

Management accounts and controls had expanded over the years to the point where the weekly report ran to 12 pages - most of it going un-read.  This was condensed to a single page that was linked to the main accounting program, meaning that additional clerical work was no longer needed.

Overall, there was a reduction in administrative staff in conjunction with increased control of the business and several other benefits.  The project was self financing with a payback of three months.

Improving business processes

A medium sized manufacturing company in a niche market, our client had expanded over the last few years with a team of long-serving and dedicated administration staff.  Recent increases in sales orders meant that resources were becoming stretched and errors were occurring.  Many of the problems did not materialise until documentation reached the production staff - by this time it was too late!

In addition, morale in certain areas was low and conflict between administration and production staff was on the rise.

We were asked to review all business processes from initial quotations through to final payment and to recommend how improvements could be made in a cost-effective and practical manner.  Also, to produce an action plan for in-house staff to follow, ensuring that the recommendations became reality.

The work entailed utilising the client's staff to fully detail and chart all the relevant processes.  Then to determine where improvements could be made and to highlight other areas of opportunity.  The findings were validated and refined before being presented to the client's staff. 

The report contained 22 firm recommendations that would all lead to immediate cost savings, plus more than 20 other recommendations that related to less tangible improvements.  

The project was delivered on time and to an agreed fee.  Savings were projected to be c£75,000 per annum.