November 7, 2011

Liveblogging PartnerCon 2011: Systems are Sexy with Leeann Marie

Session Topic: Systems are Sexy!

Leeann Marie: Systems are SexyStop wasting my time! Learn how “Lean Engineering” principles can continuously improve your business, your customer base, and your bottom line. It’s not sexy. But it’s true. Our businesses are dependent on systems. Our schedules fill up and we have little time left to see how systems impact our businesses’ quality, profitability, and customer satisfaction. Leeann will introduce you to the core concepts of “Lean Engineering,” and show you how they can be implemented into your business. By eliminating complexity and waste, you can achieve superb customer satisfaction, higher profits, and more free time!

…. let’s begin!


Creating systems isn’t about pigeon holing yourself, it’s about creating a lean machine in order to offer more to your clients and eliminate waste.  Leeann’s sharing more about herself, her background in industrial engineering and her photography business in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…

Systems and Methods: A Way of Doing Things


1) What is Quality?
2) What is Lean?
3) 7 Examples of Waste
4) Implementing Lean Projects

Doing work to get it done, not just for the sake of ‘doing work.’


Why Use Systems?
Improve Quality – keep consistency up by using systems
Increase Profitability
Satisfy Customers
Eliminate Complexity
Reduce Waste

With No Systems, you get:
Quality Varies
Profits Fluctuate
Customer Satisfaction Changes
Things Done Differently Each Time

Your clients determine the level of quality of your business.

The Cost of Poor Quality:
Customer complaints
Poor reviews
Long cycle times
Missed clients
Poor reviews or overbooking
Excessive worrying
Missed time with family & friends
Potential closing of business

The things that our clients hire us for:
Expected: Taking good pictures
Performance: Answering emails, deliver nice albums, edit images quickly and well

The things that our clients hire us for that they don’t say:
Excitement: Blog images with story, remembering names, thank you gifts, providing other wedding related insights.

Through time, excitement becomes the expected…and the cycle continues.


By being lean, you embrace change and eliminate waste, improving flow.  Anywhere work is being done, waste is being generated.

Being lean means:

1) Understand business, gaps and areas for improvement
2) Communicate well
3) Implement changes

Why Lean?  Because you don’t want to be in the ‘survivor’ category.  If you’re not doing it, than something else is going to be doing it better and coming up with something first.  There is ALWAYS room for improvement.

How do you find areas of improvement and identify areas of waste?
What is waste? Something that doesn’t change your final product, not done right the first time and a client doesn’t pay for…


W -Waiting (waiting for something to process for you to get things done; ex: images to import from a wedding, waiting for images to be edited, actions to process, waiting for album design or delivery)
Use Lexar Firewire Card Readers piggybacked
Import and backup simultaneously – using Photo Mechanic
Upload overnight
Enhance internet speed

O – Overproduction (How much of something to you really need to create?)
R – Rework (Are you creating great work from the initial input?  Do you understand how to use your tools?)
Cropping/Poor Composition
Exposure/White Balancing

Leeann is sharing insight on how to share clear expectations to her second shooter so that you don’t create rework.  She has a specific list to share with her shooter.

M – Motion (How to reduce personal motion.  i.e. creating e-mail templates with simple personal messages or using keyword shortcuts for your editing with a Wacom tablet, RPG keys, etc.)

P – Processing (Are your client’s expectations matching up with your editing?  We’re all guilty of playing with images to get them perfect and often go overboard on the edits.  Get to the point in your emails…be short and sweet.)

Be artists at heart but let your business surround your decisions.  – Leeann Marie

I – Inventory (Excessive inventory can be a way to mask other issues.  Constant availability proves commodity status.)
T – Transportation (Do you plan your days and the amount of driving you’re doing?)

Lean projects:

1) Identify an area of waste
2) Identify where you are and where you want to be.
3) Write down your current process
4) Determine improvement methods
5) Repeat over time for additional savings
6) Continuous improvement

1) Delete old blog/FB watermark actions
2) Always import and cull the same way
3) Create vendor images in LR Web Gallery
4) Update workflows in ShootQ

It will provide, consistency, reliability, ability to outsource…

Improving your photography business:
What are your workflows?
How do you track and email clients?
What work do you enjoy/hate?
What do your clients pay you for?
What are you bringing to your “Excitement” category?

Leeann uses ShootQ for tracking and following up clients and maintains consistent workflow.  Uses ShootDotEdit and Pictage for Album design and editing.

– Think of quality from your customers standpoint
– Implement lean to compete in today’s marketplace
– Add to your ‘excitement’ category by streamlining the rest
– Implement LEAN projects, even if they are small
– Always continue to improve