The team at Ramsey Solutions knew that data integrity mattered, but they had a tough time finding the right tool. Then they came across Nave and it changed everything.

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Ramsey Solutions came into being as a passion from its founder Dave Ramsey to teach people how to be successful with their finances using his tried and true money principles. He sought to share the financial advice that he had learned the hard way. Dave himself went through several bankruptcies early in his life. But, he overcame that difficult period and utilized the experience to help other people transform their money situation.

Today, 30 years later, Ramsey Solutions now has more than 900 team members and a variety of products and services to help their customers reach their financial goals. Its most influential solutions include the Financial Peace educational program and numerous digital products, such as the highly-rated EveryDollar tool.

The goal of Ramsey Solutions was to develop a wide variety of market horizontals (businesses, students, employees and employers alike), and bring the fundamental principles of personal and business finances to as many people as possible.

We spoke to Jeff Mikres, Senior Director at Ramsey Solutions, about how Ramsey Solutions has evolved its processes, and the steps they took to achieve today’s incredibly impressive overall flow efficiency of more than 60%.

The Challenge: Finding the Right Tool

Jeff recalled that, when the company first decided to adopt a software solution to improve the efficiency of their operations, it took some time for them to find the right fit.

The first attempt to integrate other Kanban metrics tools was not successful due to what looked like issues with data integrity.

‘It just seemed like it was hard to get solid numbers that didn’t change. When there isn’t confidence in the data, that’s when teams tend to not rely on it.’

They also tried using the analytics provided by Jira, but the teams found them to be too basic, and so only used them sporadically.

‘So, by the end of 2019, we really wanted to find something that was reliable, had good data integrity, was easy to use and that teams would want to use.’

For Jeff, Nave fit that brief the most – their teams found it to be a simple tool to use, with a user-friendly interface.

‘It was just a better experience with Nave. You are able to quickly go in, create your dashboard, then boom, click, done.’

He believes that customer-centric companies provide the most successful end results as, at the end of the day, it’s delivering customer value consistently that makes the most difference.

‘We also have access to the Nave team, which we’d never really had before. There’s a lot of goodwill and we feel that you are all very responsive in terms of improving the tool.’

The Solution: Using Nave to Gain Better Understanding of the Flow of Work

Since the start of 2020, Ramsey Solutions have been focusing on using Nave to get work through the system, by closely watching their flow efficiency, throughput and cycle times.

They’ve also encouraged their teams to track their Aging Charts on a daily basis, to gauge how work is progressing.

‘By having the data view, we can show them the evidence. Then, we can help teams shift their behavior and fix those problems. Without that data, you’re just working off hunches – we feel like we’re successful, when this may not actually be the case.’

For Ramsey Solutions, the goal was always to improve their processes, push things out to the customers quicker, then pivot or continue in the same direction accordingly. Alongside using data to help teams understand their workflow, Ramsey Solutions’ managers and leaders likewise used Nave to monitor their progress.

The greatest challenge to many teams at the beginning of their journey to data-driven management is the ability to fully comprehend the data. A solid presentation of the data is the key to overcome this obstacle. Validating your decisions with the support of indisputable numbers is what brings comfort and assurance in the future.

‘Before Nave, if you had said to me ‘Hey, how are your 60 teams doing?’ you’d get different answers depending on who you talked to, and we didn’t have any data to prove anything. Now, we can show, through data, that a team needs more QA people on their team, based on looking at the data. Those are real, tangible benefits that we’ve been able to see.’

The Results: Reducing WIP More Than 20% in 22 weeks

‘We’ve been tracking WIP for around 22 weeks now and we’ve been seeing a drop in the aggregate WIP from 620 down to 480. That’s very good!’

The company’s Delivery Managers are looking at their Aging Charts on a daily basis, then redirecting the team’s efforts to complete any cards that are creeping up towards the red zone. In addition, the company’s Executive Directors have put in place regular meetings with Project Engineering Leaders and Delivery Managers to bring up Nave on the board and walk through the Nave metrics.

On a more informal note, Jeff also hosts regular ‘Fun with Nave’ sessions with managers, where everyone gets in the room for an hour, brings their questions in, and reviews their charts so that all team members properly get to grips with the tool.

Every change contributes towards the larger driving force to success. Ramsey Solutions managed to achieve amazing results in optimizing their workflows and this was made clearly visible to the entire company through Nave. Demonstration of progress is the most effective way to provoke interest and induce higher confidence in data-driven decision making.

‘As we’ve been able to have the delivery managers in each squad really able to use and understand Nave, they can now address bottlenecks on their own. Before, they felt like they didn’t really know how well they were doing, or if they had process issues that they needed to work on. Or, if they thought they did, they didn’t have the data to back that up. Now, teams are able to self-diagnose if they’re seeing issues and problems.’

Jeff’s Takeaway Tips

The power of data is that it reveals unquestionable facts. The challenge is to embrace what the data is telling you with an open mind and make it clear what you want to achieve.

‘We use data to help our teams improve and make tweaks. We can make small changes that really build up to big improvements.’

And what would Jeff’s key piece of advice be to a company stuck in the same position as they were?

‘Data-driven decision making is a much better approach to making decisions. When we’re really considering the process of how we deliver software, having data to look at is invaluable. As you can start to consider that across your teams, those small improvements in each of those teams really aggregates up to a large change for that organization, helping you to really get things done quicker.’

Ramsey Solutions is just one example of the many companies around the world that started making reliable data-driven decisions thanks to Nave.

If you want to see a dashboard with your data and learn more about how to make the most of your metrics, check out the Nave analytical suite here

If you know someone who’s having a hard time improving their performance, please share this article with them on your social media platform of choice.

Thanks for reading this far and I’m excited to check back in with you again next week, same time and place, for more managerial goodness. Have a fantastic day!

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