Achieving Operational Excellence

Although operational excellence had its origins in the manufacturing sector, its application has expanded to other industries, as well. In particular, the concept of operational excellence is key for organizations with a large mobile workforce that cater to customers at their preferred locations—a group that is set to account for 80% of the global workforce.

To align with this trend and meet the needs of an ever-growing mobile workforce, these organizations should do a deep dive into their internal and external workflows to identify and eliminate bottlenecks. Prioritizing operational excellence will help companies introspect and improve on a long-term, sustainable basis.

What Is Operational Excellence?

Operational excellence is when an organization adopts the mindset to continuously improve and provide value to its stakeholders. The stakeholders could be customers, contractors, employees, or even the company itself. The main goal of operational excellence is continuous improvement and pushing your organization to be at its very best through innovation and efficiency. 

The delivery aspect of operational excellence focuses on continuous improvement of process flows in order to achieve superior quality in execution. Often, this means finding ways to reduce costs or improve worker productivity. In home healthcare, for example, this could mean more efficient route planning for healthcare workers, leading to fewer missed appointments and more visits per day.

The value aspect of operational excellence focuses on how to optimize operational flows to provide better product offerings and more consistent service to customers. For example, an organization may invest in mobile workforce management tools to improve the speed of service and communicate more effectively with customers. 

Whether your company is brand-new or well-established, operational excellence should be the ideal mindset: employees are motivated to challenge the status quo, brainstorm new ideas, and improve workflows across the company. 

Overcoming Roadblocks to Operational Excellence

Most organizations manage to make operational improvements in projects on a one-off basis. However, to claim operational excellence, an organization must be able to demonstrate consistent and reliable execution across teams on a long-term basis. 

This can be challenging for companies to achieve due to:

  • Siloed or disjointed processes across departments that make it difficult to see the big picture
  • Accumulation of many ‘waste’ activities, which may not add value, but are historically integrated with workflows
  • Lack of motivation in employees who may not appreciate the effort or don’t feel engaged enough to make changes

One way to overcome these roadblocks is by implementing systems that make it easier for everyone. Mobile workforce management solutions offer a gateway into the world of operational excellence by providing trustworthy data on the workforce and jobs completed. Companies can use this data to identify, prioritize, and follow through on operational improvements. 

For example, consider the case of the American Red Cross. It ran a complex training program that delivered 60,000 courses to 530,000 individuals through 1,250 mobile instructors. Although there was a realized need for improvement, it was difficult to sift through various data points and zero in on specific growth areas. 

By using an integrated tech stack that included a mobile workforce management solution, the American Red Cross gained incredible efficiencies. They reduced their time to schedule by 43%, reduced costs by 30%, and reduced underutilization of instructors by 31%. 

How Operational Excellence Benefits Your Customers

Although we discussed operational excellence in the context of multiple stakeholders earlier, the ultimate objective is to pass these gains to customers via superior service. Excellent customer service, in turn, benefits the organization.

Here are a few ways in which operational excellence directly benefits customers:

  • Reduced service costs: Streamlined workflows result in lower overhead costs.
  • Faster time to service: More efficient processes means less administrative work, less downtime, and faster time to service.
  • Consistent and reliable service: Service providers are trained the same way, use the same systems, and have access to the same information.
  • Personalized service and instant gratification: Exceed customer expectations with tools that intelligently match customers to service providers based on prior experience, special qualifications, and more.
  • Better customer experience: Service is faster, more consistent, more personalized, and more reliable—all of which leads to an excellent customer experience.

Customer expectations today are higher than ever, with the trends of same-day deliveries, easy returns, and instant scheduling services. Striving for operational excellence will help organizations meet and even exceed customers’ expectations.

How to Strive for Operational Excellence Without Changing Your Business Model

Operational excellence often comes across as an abstract concept, and it can be misconstrued as seeking unattainable “perfection.” Organizations also tend to worry that achieving operational excellence could mean a complete shakedown of all their existing processes. This is far from the truth.

The idea of operational excellence is to embrace inquisitive thinking and make things better—even if it’s a little at a time. By creating a framework that supports this, organizations can get all its stakeholders to commit to ongoing improvement. 

6 Ways to Start Working Toward Operational Excellence

Working toward operational excellence may sound daunting. But in fact, when you break it up into manageable pieces, it might be easier than you think. 

Start with these six points, designed to get you thinking about the possibilities of operational excellence: 

  1. Clarify roles: Establish well-defined roles and responsibilities. Unclear roles or expectations make it hard for business areas to “own” certain improvements or initiatives.
  2. Prepare to scale: Set up the business to be scalable as the business grows. This includes picking software and tools that can grow with the organization, establishing internal processes that can be replicated across large teams, and ensuring workflows can accommodate more and more employees. 
  3. Optimize as you go: Set up checkpoints to encourage people to bring up optimization ideas. Set a schedule for receiving and implementing new efficiencies, and measure the corresponding impact. 
  4. Incentivize: Provide incentives to problem-solvers who ask questions and propose effective solutions. This incentivization will encourage others to do the same, and helps establish a culture of openness, creativity, and innovation.
  5. Train: The more employees understand the overall vision and what other teams are doing, the better their ideas will be. Offer cross-functional training to help everyone see the big picture and contribute ideas that will work across all teams.
  6. Find the right tools: Invest in solutions that help integrate data from different sources and connect the dots so you can identify areas for improvements faster and easier.

Getting Started With Your Operational Excellence Framework

Operational excellence is the differentiator between a company that simply survives and the one that outpaces its competition by going above and beyond for customers. For organizations with a mobile workforce, leveraging a mobile workforce management solution—a system that looks deeper into its operational aspects and helps you find areas for improvement—is a great step toward operational excellence.

Skedulo’s platform for intelligent mobile workforce management helps enterprises schedule, dispatch, track jobs, and analyze data, with real-time visibility and communication. Book your free demo to see Skedulo in action!