Continuous Improvement: Process Engineering and the Background Screening Industry

We continue our ongoing series of “Inside Wholesale” interviews with a recap of our interview with VP of Vendor Management and Process Engineering, Carl Cogdill.

Carl oversees the Wholesale Screening Solutions research network to ensure we deliver the most accurate information in the shortest possible time. He also leads the company’s process engineering efforts, where he looks at anything and everything in operations that can be improved to increase quality, efficiency and accuracy.

You have spent nearly 20 years managing criminal research. Where have you seen CRAs and vendors struggle the most when it comes to their processes?

I’m shocked at how many companies don’t have metrics in place to review numbers, so they are just reacting rather than being proactive. I’ve found that processes really cannot improve without metrics, yet many companies I encounter in this industry lack sufficient metrics data. They probably know their average turnaround times and can show you a good TAT number, but what does that number look like month after month? Consistently good turnaround time will tell you if there’s good training and processes in place.  Great service really goes beyond averages though.  A lot can be hidden in averages.  My team certainly looks at averages, but we spend a lot more time looking at searches that took longer than we would have expected.  We determine the root cause for the delay and then try to implement procedures that will keep it from occurring again.

Explain your approach to process improvement at Wholesale Screening Solutions.

If you have good turnaround time one month and bad the next, that’s just luck. However, if you have consistently good turnaround month after month, you have good processes in place. At Wholesale Screening, we’ve established rich metrics so we know what we’re trying to do from a quality and process engineering standpoint. We’re striving for consistency because that is the best indicator of quality processes and good people managing those processes. That’s what we’re going for.

What advice do you have for companies in the background screening industry who are experiencing a lack of consistency?

You really must start at square one and go job by job. Document each process, create written instructions on how to handle each process, establish metrics/goals, then consistently keep up the metrics.

One thing that tends to happen is at the end of the year CRAs slow down and stop hiring. Then they wait until the volume is back up before they start hiring again. It’s too late by that point and they find themselves in a hole. Then when they get behind, they abandon the metrics. Inevitably, when they stop measuring, errors go up and TAT goes up. Processes and metrics can prevent a lot of this from happening.

How do you know which processes to focus your attention on?

You really must depend on your clients and customers. Our average turnaround time is excellent, and has been for many years.  So now what I’m focused on is looking at the outliers in detail and at every aspect of what causes searches to fall outside of a normal time frame. Our goal here is to catch anything falling behind our client’s expectations and find a solution prior to them feeling the pain. By catching these increases in TAT or seeing that something is different from what we have been consistently seeing on outliers before a client ever has to reach out to us to ask where a search is, we turn the corner toward being proactive rather than reactive.

By its nature, process improvement is never completed, so we’re always looking for ways to improve.

For related information, check out our quick guide to Optimizing Your Supply Chain. In case you missed last month’s Q&A with David Lowers, Chief Technology Officer, read it here.

About Wholesale Screening Solutions

Wholesale Screening Solutions is the go-to source of vital data for employment screening, tenant screening, and risk mitigation service providers nationwide. Combining innovative technology and deep human insight, Wholesale Screening delivers unique value to enable better, more efficient decision making and greater compliance.