They are experiencing increasing case handling times, insurmountable case piles and dissatisfied customers, and managers and employees experience increasing work pressure and absence. Many view digitalisation as the solution to these challenges, but there is still few and far between examples of digitalisation initiatives solving operational challenges right here and now. This means there is a need for something different, something more.
Operations management is an efficient way to get your operations under control right here and now as well as in the future. Digitalisation does not eliminate the need for operational management. In fact, quite the opposite. Operations management has gone on the back burner compared with new focus areas which may hold more sex appeal to the executive team. But the crux of the matter is that operations management creates better conditions for reaping the potentials of other initiatives, not least the digital ones. You need to be in control of your core business, operations, to be able to create breathing space for your employees to be involved in new initiatives instead of just adding further pressure.
So now, operations management may not be the sexiest management discipline, but we can guarantee that it will get results.
OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT INCREASES PRODUCTIVITY AND MAKES ROOM FOR DEVELOPMENT
We increasingly cooperated with a major public organisation. They increased productivity by 88% in just four months by implementing operations management. They achieved this without adding additional employees and they even managed to stop the increase in employee absence.
How can operations management help you achieve such dramatic results?
With efficient operations management, you will be able to achieve an organisation that has focus on the core tasks of the organisation, clear success criteria and acts on data-based facts rather than gut instincts. You achieve a tight-knit management team that pull in the same direction and cooperate on solving cross-functional challenges. You release time to develop the individual employee and the organisation as a whole.
HOW TO MAKE IT WORK IN PRACTICE
Operations management is easy to understand but more difficult to carry out. It requires a high level of management discipline and structure to be maintained in a busy work schedule. A “two-day introductory course” in operations management does not solve the challenges in the daily operations. At most, it will create more awareness.
Begin by creating a shared understanding of your core tasks and critical success criteria. This will provide you with essential knowledge of what is important to control in the workday as well as how to best plan, execute, follow up and continuously improve operations. By doing so, you have essentially defined your operations management task. Next step as a management team is to agree on how you want to execute operations management in practice in your teams and cooperate on this in the management team. Operations management should be defined in so specific terms that you will be able to tell whether you are doing it right or not simply by observing each other’s behaviour.
Here are our five recommendations for succeeding with operations management:
1. Get together as a management team to define what works in your operations and what doesn’t. Then, agree on how to best manage and lead operations going forward to solve your biggest challenges and reach your targets.
2. Operations management should become an integrated part of your working day. Both employees and managers should be able to tell that you are now working in a different way than before. Create a common language for your operations management, and make sure that this common language is shared by everyone, not just the management team.
3. Involve your employees in the operational management, e.g. at board meetings and in improvement initiatives. It will help you promote understanding, commitment and a common language. By involving your employees, you also ensure that operations management is not perceived as control and supervision, but that it is seen to be the help in their daily work that it truly is.
4. Make sure you have access to critical data, but don’t put off working with operations management because you do not necessarily have all the data from the beginning. Begin by working based on the data you have.
5. Give each other sparring and feedback on your operations management – you have a lot to learn from each other! Gain inspiration by participating in each other’s board meetings, and remember that operations management is about dialogue and common ground.
GOOD OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT REQUIRES MORE LEADERSHIP
Operations management is often blamed for simply being more registration, more management, more control. Some places, this will also be the case. But this cannot stand alone. Efficient operations management requires more leadership. Results and a better workday are achieved in those cases where the management succeed in using their leadership competences to mobilise and engage their employees in executing and developing their daily operations. You do this together with your employees where they are at, not in your spreadsheets.
Originally published in Danish in Børsen Ledelse.