Embarassing moments: Before virtual vaults.

One of life’s joys is to look back and laugh at yourself.I’ve had plenty of embarassing moments. But the one that sticks out most was when we first introduced automated cash settlement.

The year was 1979. I represented Brandt, Inc. .  My world  consisted of re-engineering money rooms primarily in banks, retail and grocery stores. I had the privelege of being one of the first 5 sales people to launch their new, 16K computer (not a typo!) interfaced to a currency counter and coin sorter.  Not much computing power?  We  guaranteed labor reductions of at least 50%!

A large retailer in my home city ran a central vault, processing receipts from about a 12 stores. Sales associates would turn in 1 envelope per shift. Today, they would use a virtual vault. Our business process was simple: Do an operational study. Test for 2-weeks. If we prove out our savings, the proposal was accepted.

The power of the technology became immediately obvious to management and staff. Of the ~40 tellers, about 10 co-operated. We agreed I would be given the opportunity to work 1/2 day as a teller, to establish a bench mark . . . since I was “experienced” on the system. Speed conquers all!!!

Simple process. Tellers would sign for a batch of work, balance by envelope and cross-foot. Strapped cash, coin & paperwork was then sold to the control teller.

Trouble! One day, the room was short roughly $700.00. Nobody was allowed to leave. The overtime was no consolation, since everyone dreaded having Loss Prevention come on-scene.  Managers recounted the straps and reworked the paperwork. Suddenly, someone said, “That’s roughly the amount of an envelope.”

You guessed it! After diving into the trash they found one unopenned envelope. Fortunately, the offending teller wasn’t scheduled to work there any longer. He just went on his way selling cash-handling systems. (BTW, they implemented the systems and savings exceeded expectations. ;-)

Too often when implementing a new process or technology, we focus on the good stuff and forget the basics.  So, I’ve adopted a discipline:

Priority list for rollouts:

1) Focus on balancing. Otherwise, you’ll lose buy-in. 

2) Get the job done in the time alloted. Employees that work late won’t support the change. Then,

3) Deliver extra value, like time-savings and quality-of-life.

Now that was my most embarrasing moment. But, not the funniest . . .


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