Operational excellence is an ongoing undertaking to optimize operations. It boosts the bottom-line of a business and accelerates the execution of everything a business needs to do in fulfilling its goals. While some businesses might not devote much energy to operational excellence until problems become chaotic, it has become a necessity to embed the principles as part of any key business investment initiatives.
As there are many approaches to incorporate the principles of operational excellence, here are four considerations to build the mindset and instil the values.
- Design with process thinking
Employees are always keen to do things in the simplest way. They are fully aware of the ugliest tasks and rules that they need to cope with. They share a common goal to eliminate them. So leverage this value proposition as you design the new solution. In fact, the new solution is about tasks execution in a rational sequence using technology in an effective manner. When you start with process, you are able to capture critical activities and identify the areas that have the most impact on overall performance.
- Align backbone capabilities with business strategy
Backbone capabilities are the building blocks for key operational activities. They include handling customer inquiries, purchasing raw materials for production, and distribution of inventory. They need to be designed in a way that align with the business strategy. For example, if you aim to direct customer inquiries through the website, you need to design easy-to-use customer support pages with adequate support personnel to handle non-standard queries. In addition, these backbone operational activities need to be adaptable to accommodate evolving needs. The flexibility affords expedient modification and implementation.
- Establish process intelligence
Process intelligence is about capturing data on different activities along the process. This is essential for assessing the effectiveness of a process. In order to do so, you need to determine the success measures for the process. If the success measure for the procurement of standard raw materials is turnaround time, you want to capture when a purchase order is initiated, processed and delivered. With those dates, you would be able to compute the turnaround time. This requires planning ahead on what data you need to capture and how you capture them. Otherwise, you would end up doing extensive manipulation to extrapolate the information needed.
- Prepare to reskill people regularly
It is inevitable that training has become a regular and necessary investment for a business. As enhanced operations through technology implementation and modifications to job roles occur more frequently, you need to allocate adequate time and resources to get people up to speed. This is particularly crucial when a major transformation overhauls operations in a significant way. Instead of handling the reskilling need as a one-time event, consider approaching it from a career development perspective. Employees feel more engaged and committed when you put their interests top-of-mind.
The principles of operational excellence need to be incorporated as an integrated element of every major initiative. When you have a consistent approach, you build a foundation for adaptive improvements and intelligence available for validation of your investments.