It’s my job to be interested in operational excellence - but what is it, exactly?
Operational excellence: it sounds like a self-explanatory notion and something to which everyone should aspire. But there is more to the phrase than meets the eye. More methodology and more measurement, for starters.
Simply put, operational excellence is a business philosophy that takes elements of continuous improvement sciences and applies them, combined with measurable performance metrics, right across your business.
As an outsource partner in the recruitment and HR Managed Service Provision industry, I am interested in how we can encourage clients to apply operational excellence metrics to the service we provide, and be challenged to use continuous improvement methodology and metrics.
Any Managed Service partner worth its salt should be only too happy to be held to account by pre-agreed metrics; the value of these metrics, and the need for them, increases as the complexity of the service delivered increases.
In their quest for operational excellence, I believe it is very important for my clients to look at how their recruitment procedures relate to one another, because procedures in isolation don’t benefit businesses as a whole.
Getting the best out of business partners
If I could put myself in a client’s shoes and give them some advice on how to get the best out of partners like me, I would start with this: When you engage with a partner firm, they should be keen to learn so much about your business that they can provide a full analysis and scoping piece on your wants and needs, and evaluate what you can expect to implement together as partners, very early in the scoping process.
That should include feasibility in terms of what can be achieved in-house and what might need to be outsourced: a long wish list might not be practicable using only in-house resources. An outsource partner must demonstrate a full and detailed understanding of this.
Your partner firm should be keen to help you engage with your key stakeholders in order to drive change and ensure that appropriate measurements can be achieved. With measurements, look for outputs for continuous improvement. MSP is a baseline but quarterly stakeholder and business operation reviews identify the rhythm of the business. This paves the way to identifying additional projects to drive excellence.
Then be alert to the opportunities to challenge your partner. Are we helping you to listen to your stakeholder community to support change – for instance, mergers, acquisitions and new contract wins placing demands on staffing levels? Are we being innovative with our technology and coming up with new ways to deliver a solution to your organisational challenges? You may demand technology-agnostic approaches to solutions delivery, linking best of breed products to ATS or VMS platforms to enable onboarding programmes, analysis and reporting.
Some suppliers may come to you with pre-formed ideas about how they will deliver their solution. Does their solution fit the challenge, or are they reimagining the challenge to justify their preconceived solution?
I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on where the original scope of some of your agreements has evolved over time without the need for contract renegotiation, or what truly flexible MSP delivery looks like.