Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence in a Digital World #2: ​'Throughput Time is completely off the table'​

Apr 14, 2020 | 1294 views


In our first blog we stated that Digital Transformation (DX) of services leads to rethinking the traditional playing fields of Operational Excellence (OpEx): Quality, Cost and Delivery. With a small example we showed that throughput time, which is a typical indicator of Delivery, is completely off the table today. Let's dive a little deeper into this evolution.

A thought experiment: "It’s the year 2025 and our customers are no longer waiting for their services, being hand-over from department to department to finally end up with them."

Then what has become the new 'biggest wait'? And are there still hand-overs at all?

To start with the waiting, the biggest waiting time is now found in IT change itself instead of business processes fulfilling customer jobs. It may take seconds to process a customer request, but months to change the functionality to handle that same request. Handling now is fully baked into code, lacking the flexibility of old school manual handling.

The change, whatever the size, needs to go through all the usual steps, either in a traditional waterfall or modern incremental setting. So, the art of optimizing should switch from operational processing, towards improving the speed of change. To state it differently, anyone improving companies should now know as much about Agile as he does about Lean.

And then the hand-overs. Obviously there are those in the IT change process, but there’s another interesting one to mention: channel hand-overs. Ever noticed how many channels you actually use to get something done? You start on the general website, try a chat, get a chatbot first, then a person, maybe another one, who then says to send an e-mail, or try the closed environment. For the company, each contact triggers another (small) process.

But for the customer, it’s only a single case. And it’s travelling through channels, all with their own experience, possibilities and limitations. So, the OpEx consultant of the future is not only optimizing the individual processes, but also looks at the channel experience and effectivity for the customer. The thinking behind tools like Customer Journey Mapping is crucial here, as is knowing fields like UX Design.

In conclusion, still lots of improvement to do in a digital company, but definitely in different fields. Next time we’ll look at another original OpEx playfield, Quality, and see what is changing there. Just to give a small hint: both customer and IT are also invited again...


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