“With OKD you have a team that’s really eager to learn. Our kitchen cabinet product lines change quarterly and the OKD team just rolls up their sleeves and gets to work. I’ve never heard them say, “We can’t do that.” Instead there’s just a willingness to figure out whatever new challenge comes their way. In ten years, their level of responsiveness has never lagged.”
In 2006 the client, a global kitchen cabinet manufacturer, needed urgent help clearing a backlog of kitchen design requests from their retail distributors. The client outsourced the design overflow to OKD, and continued to do so from 2006 until 2010.
OKD has since completely replaced the client’s internal design team, all of whom took other roles within the company. Here’s how this came about.
Challenges for OKD
- The extremely complex kitchen cabinet catalog meant a steep learning curve for OKD staff. The client’s Head of Customer Service estimates that it takes 2 to 3 years even for an experienced designer to master competency in the brand line. Errors were inevitable.
These frictions smoothed themselves out organically as the client began working with OKD on a more consistent, non-emergent basis.
- Personnel and role changes. The head of the design team retired, and a design coordinator was brought on. As the internal team reviewed OKD’s designs, several designers shifted seamlessly into training roles. The OKD team began learning on a design-by-design basis the nuances of the client’s complex kitchen cabinet line.
- Formal training. OKD was quickly approaching technical proficiency with the cabinet line, so client staff traveled to OKD headquarters to do intensive, in-person training so OKD could become true experts.
OKD now handles 100 percent of this client’s designs.
The gradual transition took place over four years. And not one person lost their job.
- The client’s internal design coordinator still oversees the handoff of work to and from OKD, and makes sure the boxes get checked. OKD has seen that this coordination role is critical to making any client partnership successful.
- The rest of the internal design team transitioned into other roles in the company. All of them had considerable expertise in the client’s complex cabinet line that made them attractive candidates for the IT, customer service, and administrative departments. Not one person lost their job.
What this client recommends if you’re considering working with OKD
The client’s Customer Service Manager shares these recommendations for a successful partnership with OKD.
- The sooner you invest in the knowledge transfer, the better. “The need for training is inevitable. The more of that knowledge transfer you handle up front, the sooner OKD can get up to speed. Your internal team structure may vary, but shift responsibilities if you can so that someone can train OKD.”
- Overcoming internal resistance is the biggest hurdle you’ll face. “Again, it depends upon your particular team structure, but no matter what employees will worry they’re being replaced,” the Customer Service Manager told us when we spoke to him. “It helps to have other available career ladders within your company, the way we did.”