Active Operations Management
eBook - ePub

Active Operations Management

The playbook for service operations in the agile age

Neil Bentley, Richard Jeffery

  1. 256 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (adapté aux mobiles)
  4. Disponible sur iOS et Android
eBook - ePub

Active Operations Management

The playbook for service operations in the agile age

Neil Bentley, Richard Jeffery

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À propos de ce livre

If you're at the sharp end of management, juggling conflicting demands to keep your organization's promises to customers, with ever-reducing resources whilst implementing the latest digital change programme and keeping your team happy – this is the book for you.

Active Operations Management gives you the framework and tools to help you take control and make the most of the evolving world of service operations. The challenges of robotics, remote working and lean operations demand a new approach to give people and organizations the confidence they need to thrive and deliver in the agile age.

This ground-breaking playbook specifically addresses the practical needs of operations managers. Discover:

  • The four critical activities for effective control, and the daily and weekly rhythms which make them effective and sustainable.
  • Practical measures of work and performance which enable like-for-like comparisons and resource balancing across diverse teams.
  • Real-world examples showing you how to raise productivity, improve staff engagement and wellbeing.
  • Online resources which support your control of the truly agile operation.

Neil Bentley and Richard Jeffery have spent over 30 years working with operations managers to simplify and bring structure to the challenges of managing in complex organizations. Today their Active Operations Management methodology is used by thousands of managers, raising performance and ensuring the wellbeing of those involved.

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Part 1
The importance of having a method
This first part deals with the question of ‘why’: why you need to read this book and why having a method for simplifying the running of your operation will benefit you, the people who work for you and the organization that you work for.
In Chapter 1 we show why we think your role, and that of people like you, is so important. We talk about the scale of service operations and the pace of change that is likely to be going on around you. We suggest that it is more critical than ever to have a simple and effective method for staying on top of the day-to-day challenges.
Chapter 2 gives more detail about what we mean by service operations so that you can relate what we are saying to your own work. We also explain how service operations are unique and need their own solutions – not just borrowing ideas from manufacturing or project management.
Chapter 3 introduces you to the AOM method and explains how some very simple changes can help you to achieve real and lasting benefits.
Chapter 4 goes into more detail on the benefits of AOM for you and others and will help you to make the business case for implementing AOM.
Chapter 1
Why this and why now?
Anhera’s story
Some while ago, while working in New Zealand, Richard was due to meet a team leader who had recently implemented a new management system that was being introduced across her organization. Anhera ran the mail room and every day dealt with the hundreds of mailbags delivering and dispatching the materials, correspondence and forms of the organization.
Richard took a breath and steeled himself for what he thought could be a challenging encounter. Anahera had a reputation for no-nonsense straight talking. An imposing Maori woman, she was utterly committed to her role. It mattered to her that her team sorted and dispatched the items to the right place because she cared about her customers, just as she cared for her team and how they felt at work. Not uncommonly for this function in organizations, she had mostly junior staff, often in their first job. She was the quintessential mother hen – fiercely demanding but also utterly committed to their wellbeing.
How would Anhera respond to the introduction of our AOM system?
As they met, it was obvious something was up: she was agitated and emotional, verging on tears. Richard braced himself as she started talking.
For the first time in my 15 years in this role, I feel safe and in control. My team members are going home knowing they’ve been successful. I’m having proper discussions with my peers about our work and who needs help, and we’ve been able to stop Saturday overtime, which has been a problem forever. It’s transformed my life.
As Anhera continued, Richard began to relax:
Until now, we have always been the problem area, or the bottleneck: never mind people going sick, unexpected mailshots, big events or policy changes bringing torrents of work, we still have to get the work done by deadlines that stayed the same – and there was always a background pressure to reduce costs and raise performance.
I was always on the threshold of a nervous breakdown because I felt we were just waiting for the next crisis to hit. No one ever says thanks for being on time – but I feel terrible when we’re behind but also frustrated and angry for my team when it’s outside our control.
Today, all those uncertainties around work volumes, staff absence and the myriad of other factors which make running operations such a challenge are still there. But now – for the first time – I feel in control of my responses to those challenges. I know with confidence where I am and what I am going to be tomorrow and next week – to a level of confidence that we feel safe. Safe to rotate my team to develop them in new roles, safe to make commitments to other team leaders to loan or borrow resources, safe to have adult conversations with my managers about resource requirements and productivity improvements that I can see being available.
By now, Richard was joining Anhera in feeling emotional as she became more and more animated.
And it has transformed the lives of my team – because now they are a critical part of the process of knowing what’s going on and what we need to achieve. Rather than just waiting to be told which fire to jump to put out or scanner to operate, they know their contribution and impact on the business and our customers.
As she finished, and feeling slightly overwhelmed by the emotion being expressed, Richard reflected on how the reaction of this one woman in one team crystallized everything that he and Neil believed in and hoped for from their work. This showed that among all the talk of productivity gains, business targets and strategic goals, there is a human side to operations. There is a choice about the way we manage ourselves and our teams, and it doesn’t have to be reactive and stressful.
Anhera’s story is about one person and her team. It is about making an impact on success, job satisfaction and achievement among the relentless pressures and constraints of running modern operations. Today, there are thousands like her who have discovered the difference being in control makes to themselves and to the people around them.
If you recognize the challenge and pressures of operations management Anhera described, and would like to make a difference to your own working life and those around you, we wrote this book for you.
Of all the books, on all the shelves, in all the stores, you had to look into this one
There must be millions of books on management so why pick this one? Is this the one? Will this be the book you read rather than just put on the shelf? Let’s be honest: it isn’t likely to be the one you leave lying around on the coffee table to impress guests at your next soirĂ©e, but will it be the one you recommend to colleagues? Will it have dog-eared corners and bristle with sticky notes in a few years’ time for repeated reading?
We hope so, of course, but that rather depends on whether we are addressing a real need for you. Did Anhera’s story resonate with you? Would it be good to feel more in control? We will start by setting out our stall so that you can decide now if you should move on or read on.
This is a book all about service operations. That is to say, the part of the organization that delivers the goods to customers in businesses like banks, insurance companies, shared service centres and the like. You might call it operations, or the back office, or customer services, or ‘just the thing I need to do to pay the mortgage for a few more years’. If you manage a team, or a number of teams, that processes information and delivers services to customers then this book will have something to offer you.
We are going to talk about Method: an approach to planning and managing the resources you have (mainly your people, but maybe some robots too) to meet your customers’ needs. Method: really? You’re doing this every day of your working life; what can we possibly teach you? That is hard to say since we haven’t met you but we hope our opening story illustrates that even talented people who care about their operation can sometimes benefit from a fresh way of looking at things. Anhera was a good team leader working in a well-run operation but still found real benefit in a new method.
It is not that managers aren’t running their operations well, but like any capability or skill, the challenge is to improve, to refine and probably most importantly to be consistent, over time and with others, to achieve the very best performance. Many operations are run very well but often organize themselves very differently: between geographies, departments and even between teams. It is this lack of consistency that embeds limits on how well service operations are run. This is as important if you are running just a few teams in a larger operation as it is for whole enterprises, or for the service operations sector as a whole.
Why should others get all the good methods?
Millions of people all over the planet work in offices providing some kind of service to customers – many with telephone headsets on, many more sitting at computer screens. They might be part of a process for underwriting someone’s mortgage, or processing an insurance claim; or they might be working in one of the vast number of business processing outsource (BPO) services – such as payroll, accounting, HR or customer relations.
The machines that these people use don’t make a lot of noise; they don’t hiss or steam and generally don’t make things that you can touch and feel or stockpile in warehouses. And yet many of the management methods that have been applied to the people working in these ‘service operations’ have come straight out of the world of manufacturing. Indeed, the types of operations we have worked in for many years have often been referred to as ‘clerical factories’.
We think this is unhelpful. Although we can learn lessons and adapt principles from other business sectors, service operations deserve to have theories and methods of their own, which work with the grain of their unique features. In particular, service operations are people operations. In this book, we intend to describe methods that have been designed from first principles to suit this world.
Have you noticed how many books, blogs and advisors seem to draw on other disciplines when trying to show you how run your operation? Have you seen books on operations that are almost exclusively about manufacturing? Or seen consultants talk about how Lean manufacturing could be applied to running a bank? Or how Agile software development could show you a thing or two about improving customer service in insurance claims processing?
Have you ever wanted to shout back: ‘But we don’t make widgets!’? Or something similar?
If you have, you can be assured we are writing for you. This book does draw on decades of the best thinking in management, but our single mission is to make this relevant to, and work for, people who work in service operations.
All too often, ‘operations’ seems to have been a forgotten discipline. It doesn’t have the same qualifications as accountancy, the same standards as project management or the same airtime as PR or marketing. But the work that you do is every bit as valuable as these other disciplines; it is a professional discipline that should be recognized and valued. We are working on that. In certain sectors in Australia, you will now find job adverts specifically asking for evidence of accreditation in AOM. Many companies are adding AOM skills to their competence profiles and evaluation frameworks. This may not yet be the case in your business or your country but you can still benefit from learning the method that is becoming a must-have approach for many similar operations to yours.
It is big and it is important
Just to remind you that you are part of a big movement, let’s consider just how important your sector is.
According to the International Labour Organization, just over 50 million people worldwide work in financial and insurance activities. Of course, not all of these people work on the kinds of transactional processing activities that we talk about in this book, but many are. That is just one sector of the economy; many other sectors also have high levels of service. Even in sectors like manufacturing, many people work in offices processing orders, managing accounts, creating customer experiences, handling human resources demands – rather than laying hands on metal. Yes, service operations is huge, global and vital to modern economies.
We are talking about a significant proportion of the working population of the world. Significant enough for it to be important that the operations in question are run efficiently and effectively. Take as an example one sector in one country: banking in Africa. This is close to our hearts as we have both loved working in Africa where our South African-based team has worked with many of the region’s major banks. The number of people with a bank account and who are using banking services has risen from 170 million in 2012 to around 300 million in 2017 and is set to reach 450 million by 2022. That is a lot of customers and a lot of customer service transactions.
This may not matter to you as you drag yourself out of bed on a wet Wednesday in winter, but you are part of a big and important thing. You, and everyone involved in service operations, deserve the very best.
It’s the people, stupid
It was Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign that ran with ‘the economy, stupid’ as one of its key messages. In service operations we think it is worth adapting this to remind ourselves that people are at the heart of everything we do.
How well service operations are managed can significantly influence the health and wellbeing of the people working in an organi...

Table des matiĂšres

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Contents
  5. Introduction
  6. Part 1: The importance of having a method
  7. Part 2: What is AOM and how does it work?
  8. Part 3: The AOM method in action
  9. Part 4: AOM and the bigger picture
  10. Acknowledgements
  11. About the author
  12. About ActiveOps