In this issue of Insights, we talk with consultant Tom Quinn about his role on the Insyte team. Tom specializes in information technology, including systems integration, system requirements definition, vendor selection and implementation. Here, Tom shares his thoughts on the Insyte philosophy, what makes a successful company, and how it’s never too late to get on the right track.
Describe your background in the manufacturing industry.
I have been involved with technology since I graduated from college and have been supporting systems-based initiatives the entire time. Although I am a certified lean instructor and ISO provisional auditor, the highest percentage of my project work relates to process improvements, most of which involves the selection and implementation of business system software.
What is your role on the Insyte Consulting team?
My primary responsibility is to help companies see things from a new perspective, reduce a client’s blind spots, and most efficiently and effectively implement change. I work to provide companies with the confidence to proceed and to support changes until my services are no longer needed. Sometimes this takes place over lunch, and other times I may be involved for only several weeks; in some cases I have stayed involved for several years.
From where you sit, what methods or philosophies do successful companies have in common?
One of the most common characteristics of successful companies is their ability to continually transform themselves, finding new ways to add value while becoming more effective and efficient at what they do. Part of the problem for companies is that they think they need to know what the change is before they come to us, when in reality the only requirement is their desire to continually improve. Change can be focused on a quantifiable measure such as turnaround time or can simply be the desire to reduce staff stress levels. In my earlier years, my engineering bias focused me more on the quantifiable measures although recently I have had much more success when a portion of my focus is on the improvement of softer measures such as stress and frustration levels.
Describe your personal experience working with this team. Why do you work well together, and how does the shared vision come through with your clients?
The internet offers access to all of the best methodologies and tools available today. Unfortunately the one thing that this information often lacks is context. Every situation and company culture is different, meaning the best approach and the right tool to use is not always obvious. I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of amazing manufacturing companies. My greatest contribution to projects is often the introduction of plans and approaches from previous projects that the team can use as a starting point for crafting their own plan. I also have the benefit of being able to draw from the 100-plus years of experience from other Insyte consultants and their experiences in WNY. We have a lot of talented people here in WNY, and sometimes all they need is the right plan or a good idea to get them started.
Can you share an anecdote from working with a client?
A local company was struggling with ensuring proper inventory through their busiest time of year. Worse yet was the fact that they could not accurately tell when inventory was needed in the future and exactly what quantity was needed. Their business system lacked the desired supply-chain functionality to track and manage tens of thousands of items and a replacement system was at least five years away. Collectively, they felt they did not have good options. A series of meetings put to paper the
desired information they were seeking and the means by which these numbers were to be calculated. We captured these ideas in a RFQ and a local software developer then created a custom application for them in three months that saved them an estimated $1 million annually in inventory related costs.
How has travel influenced your work with clients?
I love to travel, whether it’s to the pyramids of Giza or the black sand beaches of Hawaii. Visiting different countries and cultures is a great learning experience and it often helps me see things in a new light. Insyte is focused on helping WNY manufacturers, but that mission can take us far from WNY. In the last year, I’ve traveled to China, India, the Philippines and England, as well as California and Utah, to do project work. We’ll go anywhere in the world to help WNY manufacturers.
What do you love about working at Insyte?
Most times people reach out to me with an idea of the changes they would want to make. The majority of times what gets accomplished in our projects is significantly different or better than what was envisioned. Collectively, Insyte has the people and experience to help so many companies in WNY.