Champions of Change: IMS Technology Services

A/V consulting company implements gross profit assessment, new hiring techniques to boost job performance.

Accountability can make or break a business. If employees don’t feel liable for the jobs they perform, sales go down and the business doors will close.
To make employees feel accountable, and even have pride in their jobs, Michael Shinn, operations manager of IMS Technology Services is training new hires efficiently from the get-go and implementing a gross profit assessment.
Shinn got the idea to implement these changes for the A/V consulting company after speaking with several integrators during a roundtable at the CI Summit about key performance indicators for employees.

He said he was impressed with how the integrators evaluate design concepts, sales strategy and project management process adherence across projects and adjust the compensation plan accordingly.

“While we all agreed that sales performance indicators are fairly clear with revenue and gross profit targets, it is harder to measure the performance of a technician, project manager or administrator,” Shinn says.

At IMS Technology Services, located in Garnet Valley, Penn., and founded in 1994, changes are beginning with new hires.

“I was very impressed and intrigued by the concept that Rob Simopoulos brought up during the discussion, which later became a topic during recruitment, of how he is targeting training his people to the level of accountability he is looking for from the ground-up with an apprenticeship program,” says Shinn.

Simopoulos is president of Advance Technology Electronic Systems Integration, which serves New England. Shinn is taking a page out of his apprenticeship program by tying new hires to the hip of a lead performer in that particular line of duty for a period of time to help them learn the ropes of what it means to work at IMS and in the industry.

“We have seen greater success when there is a trainer involved that is not management, but instead someone that has demonstrated success and expertise in their knowledge area,” says Shinn.

A new project management process measurement has been introduced at IMS to ensure that customers receive the same professional services, regardless of which project manager is assigned to the project. Process compliance is calculated through a custom algorithm.

“We have assigned certain percentages of importance to specific milestones that we see as absolutely essential to the success of a project,” explains Shinn. “When those steps are mismanaged or skipped altogether, then those points are removed; almost like taking a test in school. If you worked the process only 70 percent of the way, then your compensation will be affected to correlate to the performance.”

To ensure fairness, the company has outlined a means for employees to work with management when a process doesn’t make sense for the scale or type of a project.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 2.25.24 PM“If they involve management as part of the process, then they are not dodging the process at all and it allows for them to be compliant,” Shinn says.
Finally, a new compensation plan has been implemented for the project managers to reflect this new performance measurement. The idea is to follow the proper procedures rather than focusing on the final gross profit at the end of the project.
“This is to ensure that should they need to step outside the bounds of the process, that they are involving management to assist in guiding them properly so as not to have negative effects on other members of the team, the design, or, most importantly, the ultimate satisfaction of the customer,” says Shinn.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 2.28.07 PM

“As one might expect, change has been challenging,” Shinn says. “However, overall there has been positive feedback from all accounts that we are definitely progressing and improving our art form. Here and there we receive push back on a new procedure, but after a while people begin to see the whole picture and the benefits.”

He has explained to staff why this change is necessary and how it will be implemented. To reinforce training and get feedback on how employees are doing, Shinn has scheduled monthly team sessions. Employee reaction has gone as anticipated.

Those struggling to adopt the changes are receiving help from management. If they cannot meet the new demands, they may be moved into a different role or move on to greener pastures.

“At least now we have a mechanism to hopefully see and assess this before it becomes problematic in the eyes of the customer or other mission-critical employees.”
The results have been encouraging, however.

“Thus far for 2015, I have seen about a 20 percent increase in process compliance by team members and everyone seems happier with the various team members fulfilling their piece of the puzzle more consistently.”

And we all know that when employees perform to the best of their ability, the customer is happy and the bottom line will rise.