Value 2b: Obsessively reduce cycle times in every area

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At Blue Raven Solar, we have three values:

 

1. Develop a High-Trust Culture

2. Be Efficient

3. Continuously Improve.

 

Each value is accompanied by four statements that try to capture what living this value means for us.

 

Our second value, “Be efficient,” means four things for us:

 

2a: Produce results that are worth more than they cost to deliver

2b: Obsessively reduce cycle times in every area

2c: Keep the sales and field experience simple (even if it means adding complexity elsewhere)

2d: Stay lean – eliminate unnecessary costs (even through periods of rapid growth)

 

Value 2b is our topic today: Obsessively reduce cycle times in every area.

 

 

We typically break down what it means to live this value into three distinct parts.

 

First, we want to reduce cycle times. Cycle times measure how long it takes us to complete a task. Sometimes we string multiple tasks together into a process and we then measure our process from start to finish. While you might imagine that every company wants to “reduce cycle times,” we doubt that it’s a frequently cited value. For most businesses, the customer sales and delivery cycle are quite short. For Blue Raven Solar, however, reducing cycle times is essential because going solar is cumbersome and often takes several months. It requires coordination between permitting agencies, utilities, HOAs, and insurance companies. Only when we are focused on reducing cycle times can we expect to deliver a positive customer experience. (Nobody wants a long and drawn out residential home improvement project, do they?!)

 

Second, we want to reduce cycle times in every area. We don’t just tell the departments that manage customer projects that reducing cycle times is important. We tell every single department. Accounting, finance, marketing, sales, operations, technology – even our legal department needs to keep up and be efficient. Reducing cycle times doesn’t always mean “working faster.” It often means taking more time to do things right the first time.

 

Finally, we focus on the word “obsessively.” When asked what our employees are ‘obsessed’ about, we hear the passion in their voice. We want our employees to feel the same way they feel about their passion as they do about cycle times. Solar is a competitive industry and the industry has only recently reached “grid parity” in many markets. We are disrupting a multi-hundred-year-old way of delivering power. In order to deliver economic value to customers, our company must be efficient so we can offer solar systems at a price point that helps their pocketbooks as well as the environment. Our ability to deliver this value hinges on efficient cycle times.

 

We asked employees how they experience value 2b at Blue Raven Solar. Here is what a few of them said:

 

Blue Raven is literally obsessed with cycle times. We measure every single cycle time with scrutiny and obsess over making each work queue appear “green” on our dashboard.

 

We are very thoughtful about schedule times so that we can always have people here to get the work done when it comes in. Our goal is to decrease cycle times.

 

Our effort to get as many final inspections scheduled as soon as possible is impressive. It’s been a lot of trial and error, but I really admire how our team is always working to see how they can streamline their process and it’s definitely beginning to show in the numbers.


Last year we started recording the exact time we sent final designs. This helped us improve the time from when the final design is made to when it is sent and continue to shorten that time. That in turn ensures that the same day the site survey happens, the final design is sent to the customer, and they can approve it right away. This has helped us reduce our cycle times at the beginning of the process and allow more time for permitting and parts of the process that aren’t in our control.

 

Our Proposals team takes great care to make our designs as quickly as possible.  Most of the team hits their cycle time and productivity goal on a regular basis.

 

All of the leadership is concerned with cycle times down to the hour. Saving a whole day is celebrated as a huge accomplishment.

We are constantly working to increase productivity between departments. Install ops and Inspections/Permitting work really hard to communicate efficiently with each other to get customers moving through our processes quickly.

 

I see our company putting resources into the areas where we see problems and taking the time to problem solve – our goal is to reduce cycle times everywhere!

 

Being on time and keeping commitments with/for customers actually reduces cycle times

 

We’ve implemented individual and team sprints over the last few months and meet together to go over what worked/what didn’t after each one. It’s been helpful to evaluate personal projects and hear from team members on how to streamline things where possible for the next sprint.

 

In the design department I see a growth in how fast we approach projects with new hotkeys, shortcuts, and code to be able to complete tasks faster and accelerate the rate we complete designs and permit packs.

 

We are always pushed to not only be more efficient in our current processes, but to find other, simpler and faster ways to manage our workload. As long as we keep that goal in mind while we’re tackling our tasks, we will subconsciously be looking for ways to help the company adapt and improve.

 

Blue Raven has been consistently providing feedback to each department and individual on what we can do to improve and meet our goals.

 

On the design team, we split into two shifts, one that comes early in the morning to create final designs for site surveys that come in early, and a shift in the evening, so that even the late surveys will have final designs done before the end of the day. This definitely reduces cycle times. Almost all site surveys get final designs on a same-day basis.

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