2019 Reflections on Ops Management.

It’s the time of year when you reflect on the changes in the last 12 months and the events which perhaps define the year and how you remember it as it becomes history rather than work in progress!

Robotics - payback time?

The agenda of Automation is moving from an arguably non-nonsensical "How many Robots can we get?" to "Where's the impact on our performance from our robots?". We have seen examples where automation has made a remarkable difference to the amount of work which would previously have been done by humans. 32 million claims in one health care insurer using our mainframe RPA software that would otherwise be manually administered exceptions. In another case, where the robot resources were transferred into operations and brought into an integrated management process alongside humans, they were turned off - because when measured by the same yardstick, the utilisation was so poor that they were the most expensive resources rather than the previously assumed cheapest! More generally organisations are getting to grips with the practicality of forecasting, planning and controlling RPA technology alongside all the other resources. Like so many other investments in process and efficiency improvements - anyone can write cheques for software licenses, the winners are the ones who operationalise and realise the value most effectively.

Agile comes to Operations - Or has it always been there...?

Agile for Operations was probably the theme of the year. ANZ Bank's keynote address about their programme at the ActiveOps Annual Conference in London generated a lot of discussion and comparison amongst the delegates and panels on the day. Agility is of course at the heart of Active Management - so it was heartening to hear how the visibility and numeracy of the Workware platform was underpinning their new approach to outcome ownership in the teams. ANZ celebrated 10 years on the ActiveOps platform this year - and with many thousands of staff across countries, sites and processes, it is a great example of how raising operations management capability supports and creates new commercial opportunities. If organisations are more in control (in the sense of forward-looking visibility coupled with the levers to control to an outcome) they are more able to innovate and execute their strategic vision.

How good are we? Benchmarks for Operations Management Effectiveness

This conference also previewed our new Operations Management Benchmarks, providing globally consistent metrics of productivity variability, utilisation and work availability volatility amongst others. This allows teams and units to make a meaningful comparison with others with similar levels of work uncertainty or volatility. Based on over 15 years of data across BPO, Financial Services and Government processes we believe this is a world-first in pure Operations Management benchmarking. We are currently refining and calibrating our dataset and model to produce an ActiveOps "Control Mark" in the course of next year which can be used by BPOs and their customers to evidence operations excellence in how work and capacity is controlled.

New platform anyone?

A major milestone for ActiveOps was the release of ControliQ and the Workware+ platform. This was a zero legacy code rewrite of the Workware software, working closely with Microsoft to create a best in class SaaS solution. Alongside massive scalability, the release transforms in the integration and expansion opportunities of the system. Watch this space for how AI and Machine Learning will bring a new level of precision and insight to Operations Management.

And finally -

All organisational "genius" ideas end up in the back office eventually to make work or repair the outcomes. The relentless pressure to accelerate, improve, be more transparent and compliant whilst also being obsessively focussed on customer outcomes and ensuring staff are engaged, motivated and flexible ... makes me breathless just thinking about it. Can I offer my continuing awe and respect for anyone in an Ops Management role - rarely appreciated and generally noticed only by exception or because of problems or outages - So many aspects of our daily lives and the societies we live in rely on your professionalism and dedication Thank you!

“Richard Jeffery is an expert in service operations management. Richard started his career with PA Consulting Group, before moving to Coopers and Lybrand specializing in organizational change management and operational effectiveness.

He joined specialist consultants OCP as a partner in 1993, where he began developing the Active Operations Management (AOM) method and Workware. He launched ActiveOps as an independent business in 2005 with fellow OCP partner Neil Bentley.”

Richard Jeffery, CEO, ActiveOps