Dave Hartman and Marie Hartman, my parents and co-founders of Hartman Executive Advisors, an IT advisory firm based in Baltimore, Maryland bring an interesting take on how they find ways to implement the concept of LEAN process improvement in his business.
In our conversation, the one theme I found my dad reiterating throughout was “people are the most important part of technology.” “You can have the best technology, systems, architecture, and security in the world, but if your people are not able to use it to help make their jobs easier and make the experiences of the customers better, then why are we doing it?”
This same approach he preaches to his clients is exactly how he runs his business. Dave’s take on LEAN process improvement is also known as Rapid Improvement Plan or RIP. He says he wants his people to go beyond their day-to-day roles and to start to think like owners…“ownership thinking.” Each quarter, Dave puts together 2 or 3 teams of coworkers of different backgrounds, strengths, and experiences who generally haven’t worked together. He then has the teams take 2-3 hours a week for a month to meet and work on a business process improvement topics of their choice. At the end of the month, he then holds a “Shark Tank” like meeting for the teams to present their ideas on how Hartman can improve a certain process in front of a panel of judges consisting of Hartman’s managing directors. The Hartman team absolutely loves the opportunity as it gives them a chance to make their mark on the company they love.
Just this month, a team was tasked with putting together a process plan to leverage new or junior-level team members within Hartman to take on more hours with clients, in turn reducing time spent by upper management and reducing costs for the client. Dave says, “the idea is to come up with a plan to save our clients money and give our junior associates more experience, all while maintaining the high level of service Hartman is known for.” Marie said she couldn’t be happier with how the teams responded. “It was a thrill seeing some of my employees excel in areas they might not be as comfortable or confident.”
The way my parents create an environment where their employees can feel appreciated and that their thoughts matter is why they are repeat winners of Baltimore Business Journals’ “Best Places to Work,” and was recently named the second-best place to work amongst mid-sized companies in 2022.