VALPARAISO │ How Task Force Tips uses technology to build a collaborative environment was the theme of the 19th Innovators Café Thursday.
Attendees gathered on the factory floor of the worldwide leader in firefighting equipment as TFT President and CEO Stewart McMillan explained the benefits of the company’s investment in SharePoint, Microsoft’s collaboration platform.
McMillan said it used to take 14 to 18 weeks just to move along a product manual that “everybody’s eyes needed to be on to make sure it’s accurate.”
SharePoint allows TFT to move the manual in four to six days.
“I told the IT people that if we only use it for this one thing, it will pay for itself,” McMillan said.
SharePoint includes for TFT a project information board where stakeholders are informed on new product design.
“Everybody can see the project evolve over time,” McMillan said.
The board allows decisions on a new product run past the filter of people who have knowledge about what the product needs in terms of its manufacturability, marketability, reparability, reliability and meeting the customer’s needs.
Task Force Tips also uses an employee information board on the software that consists of a single web page that lists information on employees including photo, date of hire, emergency contact information and their work shifts.
“It allows us to know everyone in the company,” McMillan said.
A favorite application of McMillan’s is the president’s blog, which allows him to communicate with everybody in a rich, web environment that is preserved in a diary-like searchable format. New employees use it as an “onboarding process.”
“Fundamentally the easiest change we ever implemented,” McMillan said.
Task Force Tips also uses the software for core value recognition submissions, maintenance requests, human resources information and media requests, he said.
Following McMillan’s presentation attendees were treated to a tour of the factory and its firefighting museum. The event was co-sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College Northwest and Task Force Tips and is a project of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and The Society of Innovators of Ivy Tech Community College Northwest.
“Thanks to the computer, anyone can be an innovator,” said John Davies, managing director of The Society of Innovators. “Through technology Stewart McMillan is tapping into their employees, distributors and eventually customers worldwide to generate better ideas.”