This article was originally published in the Analog Devices internal newsletter
by Lucia Graziano
*DISCLAIMER: The planning model outlined in this article is part of a long-term, ongoing effort to increase the number of dogs we are able to place each year. However, it will take at least a number of years before these efforts result in a change in the number of dogs available to our clients. — NEADS
Avi Schweber, an Analog Devices (ADI) business analyst in Wilmington, Massachusetts, recently spent his spare time developing a planning model for the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS), a non-profit organization that provides highly skilled assistance dogs to people who are deaf or have a disability.
A challenge for the NEADS organization is in planning and managing the complex production process to deliver highly skilled service dogs to individuals. From start-to-finish, the process can take up to two years. Many of NEADS’ clients who anxiously await a service dog are often disappointed and frustrated by the lack of availability of service dogs.
Schweber volunteered his time and skills to create a standardized planning model that calculates when a service dog will be available to a client. With the new planning model, all relevant data is collected and the model calculates how long a dog will take to train and its likelihood of completing the program. The new planning model is already helping NEADS to increase capacity and yield, while also enabling the organization to provide a higher level of service and satisfaction to its clients.
It was Schweber’s experience at Analog Devices that helped him come up with the ideas to efficiently track the data, implement data standardization, and maintain a history so that metrics could be created to improve and monitor the production process. According to Schweber, “My experience working across different ADI groups taught me the importance of listening to the end user and working with them to create something they will want to use.”
Schweber has always been interested in how dogs are used as service animals and was interested in learning more about the process of training service dogs, while also contributing his skills and time for a greater cause. “Working with NEADS was a great experience,” said Schweber. “I learned that organizations with very different charters, models, and customers can face similar problems, with aspects unique to their situation, but that some common approaches and solutions can be applied and adapted across all of them.”
The staff at NEADS is very pleased with the new planning model. “We are driven to provide the very best assistance dogs for our clients,” said Gerry DeRoche, NEADS CEO. “Avi’s model will be an extremely valuable tool to facilitate the matching process between our clients and their canine partners. Just as important, it will dramatically enhance our scheduling and delivery. Avi has been a great partner and we truly appreciate his efforts.”
Since 1976, NEADS has trained over 1,300 assistance dog teams. NEADS offers a wide spectrum of assistance dog services, including: canines for combat veterans; dogs for children with a physical disability; hearing dogs for people who are deaf or have hearing loss; service dogs for people with physical disabilities; dogs for the classroom, therapy and ministry; and dogs for children with autism. NEADS is accredited by Assistance Dog International, the internationally recognized governing body that establishes industry standards and practices.