At Xcentuate, we work with organisations from as few as 80 people to 1,000s of employees. Current clients of the solution include Allianz, Rabobank, AIB, Barclays, Capita, Fonterra and Inland Revenue in New Zealand.
Our ActiveOps solution has been proven to help organisations across many industries and countries to improve their operational performance and sustain it. It does this by recognising the issues operations managers face and providing managers with the information and tools they need to manage effectively. The solution is particularly effective in remote working environments. It is process agnostic – we only provide measures on tasks and processes regardless of the duration or complexity of the work.
Take a few minutes to look at our story and if you recognise any of the issues mentioned, please feel free to get in touch. We will carry out a free operational diagnostic to evaluate your current operation and quantify the benefits you will get from working with us including a boost in productivity, reduced costs and efficiencies that work for the business and its employees.
The first part of the solution is providing visibility – getting accurate data on all aspects of an operation. This allows managers to make decisions based on hard data – especially important for larger organisations, remote working or organisations split across multiple sites.
The second part is to introduce a regular planning cycle to move managers from being reactive to proactive. This enables them to recognise issues before they arise and take corrective action.
The third part is enabling managers to control against plan. A plan is at best an estimate of what will happen – it will never be perfect. Having real-time visibility through accurate data enables managers to take decisions when actual experiences deviates from what was expected.
By providing deep insight into operational performance at individual, team and organisation level we bring Operational Management to a new level.
When we engage with different clients and talk about our experience their initial comment is usually, “but we are different…”. While the work may be different, there are some common issues facing customer operations which exist regardless of the type of work, industry or function.
Let’s look first at the type of issues that arise which result in a need for a better way to manage work and time:
I have yet to come across an organisation where the work comes in at a constant rate. Sales cycles, time of the year, external events and even the weather affect the volume of transactions, queries or work that come at an operation. Not only that but the level on a particular day can be volatile, even if we expect to get 500 queries, we might get 550 or even 600 on a normal day and possibly a lot more if there is an unforeseen event. This combined with ever shortening customer expectation and service levels require us to be more agile to be able to deliver for our customers.
Variable task time
The next issue is how long a task will take. One customer query can be short, while another has a different complexity and can take longer. I may know my average time but there can be a lot of variability around that average. For one organisation we worked with there was an average time of 20 mins for a task, but a sizeable portion could take an hour or more. So not only do operations need to be able to manage variable volumes but they also need to be able to manage where the time taken will vary as well.
I had a meeting a few years back where a very experienced senior manager made the statement that sure everybody should be working at 100% productivity. Anyone who has managed operations will know that this is pure fantasy. Even taking away the small proportion of poor performers we will see a fair bit of variability from person to person, for example.
- Some people will be new to the organisation or team and will be still learning and might not yet be able to complete work in the expected time of an experienced staff member
- Some people will be unbelievably quick compared to others – they just seem to be wired differently and can complete tasks in a fraction of the time
- Some people will be slower than others, but their customer skills and quality are excellent
- Some people might just have a bad day – I know my brain does not work as fast if I have a cold!
Dealing with a backlog
In most cases the work must get done, it doesn’t go away. We cannot start each day with a clean slate and must manage the work that was left over from the day (or week or month) before. Having too big a backlog creates more work as customers are following up to see what is happening creating even more work.
Staff performance usually dips as they can feel flogged and they might struggle to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Managing across teams/sites
For a lot of large business, the organisation can be split across multiple sites. In some instances, virtual teams are made up of onshore and offshore teams. The advantage of different locations is you can get cost savings and provide longer opening times for customers. However, it brings the challenges of having visibility across each site, having common ways of managing across each site and how to build collaboration between teams in different locations.
Managing remote staff
Some organisations have been dealing with this management issue for a while but for others it is a new phenomenon brought on by the Covid pandemic. Having staff working from different locations creates the need to manage differently:
- How are staff performing (both for the manager and for the staff themselves to understand how they are doing.)
- Are staff working longer hours than they should be to get the work done
- How do I ensure everyone stays connected and engaged?
- How to connect different levels of management
If you want to see a better way to manage these issues, get in touch to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM in LinkedIn.