Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence is the cultural transformation and technical enablement of business that allows it to perform optimally and achieve its strategic objectives. Sounds simple, but it’s a method that has far reaching implications for any organisation.

At its heart, any business is about its people, its processes and how those are managed. By focussing on how people work, what they do and why they do it, we can refine the execution of your operating model to greatly improve efficiency and productivity.

Operational Excellence is customer-centric. By supporting your business to look at what your customer really values and needs, we can enable your business strategy, operating model, people and processes to meet your customers’ demands.

Even tough business process improvement projects can be carried out in a specific department or business function, they have greatest impact when implemented throughout an organisation. 

How can Operational Excellence help your business?

Business processes inherently carry with them inefficiency and they force people to behave in specific ways. If these processes are complex and broken then even the performance of the best people will be inhibited. Effective business process improvement can help in several key areas:

  • Unifying purpose, strategy and behaviours. Operational efficiency always suffers when a business’ strategy and culture are misaligned. This causes unnecessary work, inhibits communication and leads to functional ‘silos’. By deploying an Operational Excellence approach we can make real changes to work culture and operating practices aligning them with strategy.
  • Aligning frontline work with business objectives. It’s common to see a strong agreement on strategy at the board level, which then gets lost or diluted as it filters down through the organisation. This can become especially evident at the level of customer interface. More often than not, this is due to people at the operational frontline carrying out tasks that seem important but which aren’t aligned with the strategy. At times the challenge is at the senior and mid-level management, where priorities aren’t effectively communicated to the workforce. Operational Excellence quickly shines a light on the business ‘pain points’, no matter if they occur at the very top or at the frontline of the organisation.
  • Improving the effectiveness of decision making. It can be tempting to think that an organisation’s problems can be solved by investing heavily in technology. While this can sometimes be the case, especially in sectors such as manufacturing, it is far more effective to look for non-technical solutions first. If people aren’t working efficiently, or processes are not fit for purpose, technology will rarely fix the issue. As part of your business process improvement we’ll help you see which parts of the business may benefit from a technology solution, and help you choose and implement the right one. If the issue is more fundamental then we’ll address that first, ensuring you don’t invest in technology where it’s not needed.
  • Identifying the value of your customer set. Not all customers are created equal. Many businesses presume that all customers bring value and are worth serving with the same level of priority, but this can result in inflated business costs, spending time on customers that are costly to serve but offer little value to your business. By identifying which customers create good demand for your business, this will enable you to focus your efforts across your customer set to achieve maximum value. Along with a renewed focus, we will also help your business to improve how it operates to meet customer needs, as well as establishing how best to attract new customers.

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The role of business process automation

Robotic Process Automation is a powerful tool for improving efficiencies, but like any tool it is only useful in the right situation, and when it is used correctly. Process automation can go wrong if you don’t automate the right tasks in the right way.

Through our Operational Excellence approach, we’ll help you identify which processes could be automated. For many tasks it can be more beneficial to optimise processes, build skills and capabilities or redeploy your workforce.

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How to manage such transformational change

Our approach considers your business through five dimensions; Customer, Process, Organisational Design, Skills & Capability and Performance Management. At every stage we engage people at all levels of the business, securing buy-in and alignment, spending time with frontline staff to understand their challenges and interviewing customers to truly understand their experience and what they really value.

This allows us to build a balanced understanding of your business so we can accurately uncover the real issues that you face. It also means that we’re able to effectively communicate proposed changes and their benefits to the organisation, ensuring that we help your people see the positive implications of change.

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Mike Salkeld

Senior Manager, PwC United Kingdom

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