Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, May 23, 2021

Just when you thought statistical theory was so much bunk, Knoxville-based QualPro is turning heads with its analytical techniques that boost companies’ efficiencies (and therefore bottom lines).

What’s QualPro’s secret? Multivariable testing, or MVT, a method that basically makes some statistical assumptions, which enables running fewer models. Once the number of experiments becomes managable, something like MVT has enormous business application:

Shortly after SBC took control of Ameritech in late 1999 its service operation fell apart, with some customers waiting weeks or months to get phone service restored or new lines installed. In 2000 SBC brought hundreds of technicians from Missouri, Texas and elsewhere to the Midwest to regain control.

SBC considered the situation normal once it reduced the backlog to about 80,000 Midwest customers awaiting service…

Following its usual format for problem solving, QualPro’s consultants held brainstorming sessions with people who did the repair and installation work for SBC-technicians and customer reps who answer complaint calls as well as managers and department chiefs. Everyone was asked to propose ideas for improving the process.

The only suggestions considered were those that cost little or nothing and were easy and practical to implement, said Kieron Dey, QualPro technical director…

The experiment identified about eight changes that improved efficiency. Most were fairly simple things such as giving employees written instructions rather than relying upon them to remember what they were told.

The firm acted on the suggestions. Over several months SBC’s backlog in the Midwest was cut in half, dropping to about 40,000, [former SBC Communications exec Ed] Mueller said.

“It’s unbelievable you could get it there and sustain it in a cost-effective way,” said Mueller, who was so impressed with MVT that he traveled to Knoxville to study [QualPro president Charles] Holland’s methods.

To paraphrase Bart Simpson: They actually found a practical use for geometry statistics!

And the fun isn’t limited to the business world:

“Anything that can be measured can be improved,” Holland said. He has even applied his methods to his teenage son’s baseball team.

Using a radar gun Holland measures how fast a baseball leaves the bat once it is hit. As each batter changes various factors, such as his stance, bat length and weight, Holland records the performance.

By finding an optimal batting strategy for each player, Holland said, batters have raised by 10 miles an hour the average speed of a batted ball. The extra speed translates into more runners reaching base, he said, and has helped the team achieve a batting average above .400.

Look for several Major League teams, and player agents, to be scrambling for QualPro’s phone number.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/23/2005 11:25:04 PM
Category: Baseball, Business, Science | Permalink |


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