March 2017

28 APAC / March 2017 , 1702AP39 Producing Outstanding Results ActiveOps is an international leader inwork force optimization software solutions for enterprise-scale back office operations and shared service centres. Paul Moroney, the firm’s Chief Product Officer based in Adelaide, Australia, discusses how the firm is providing solutions that enable leaders tomanage differently, lowering operational riskwhilst producing outstanding results in this complex area. In diverse service industry back office operations and shared service centres the rate of change continues to increase. The rapid adoption of automation and robots are the latest in productivity improvements impacting positively on quality and speed of service. The challenge of having the optimal amount of capacity available, from people or robots, to meet variable customer demand in a reliable, manageable way has never been more complex. Since 2005, ActiveOps has been developing the Workware software suite and the Active Operations Management (AOM) methodology enabling operations managers to think differently about how to address these challenges. The origins of Workware and AOM began as organisations centralised fulfilment work, and sought technology and methods for managing operations consistently and efficiently. Management solutions have often been driven by lessons learned in manufacturing but this can only go so far. Service operations have their own, unique challenges and this requires senior leaders to think about managing differently Service Differences While the two environments have some similarities, the most significant differences are caused by the inherent variety in service transactions. Yes, work can be standardised and categorised but not to manufacturing precision. Each item of work contains differences caused by variations in product offerings, customer requirements, service level targets or even the length of someone’s name and address. A manufacturing production line can be set to a certain delivery rate. People, however, do not have a dial on their forehead and they deliver a more variable output rate. Manufacturing practices seek to eliminate variation, while service operations must work with variations and need real-time accurate information. Service Challenges There are many moving parts to consider, including competitive market forces, new products, legislation and seasonal trends. Add to that the introduction of Business Process Management (BPM), Workflow and Document / Process management technologies and more recently robotics. In addition continuous improvement initiatives such as Lean and Six Sigma all aspire to improve customer experience, yet struggle at times to quantify and realise the benefits they bring. Therefore, there is a need for software to provide accurate and real-time workforce performance data essential to manage operations efficiently and effectively. If done well these activities promote staff satisfaction and engagement whilst reducing turnover rates and correlate directly to increased customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores. Increasing demands on costs is resulting in hot desking or homeworking. The work pattern is moving from a standard working week to be better aligned to when the work needs to be completed and ever shortening service standards. Work that was being delivered in 2 days is now being required in 2 hours! Service Solutions There are three key areas where the ActiveOps Workware suite and AOM methodology addresses these challenges to sustainably improve performance in back office operations. The first is to help create an environment where teams collaborate to meet organisational objectives. This requires processes to enable teams and team members to understand the part they play. Strong communication, the use of visual displays plus constructively used real-time performance data is vital. Development opportunities including the identification of time for effective cross training programs and the opportunity to use skills regularly. Secondly, quantify work and time. For work this means quantifying manual tasks with items recorded in both workflow and core systems. For time this means capturing all hours worked and classifying where they are used. Both are key to calculate key metrics such as productivity for individuals, teams and operations. Thirdly, the capability to optimise the balance between the work to be done to meet customer expectations, and the time available for this - while meeting training, projects, leave commitments and the like. The key is to provide the right data and a consistent process to enable operational priorities to be met. When all three areas are executed well, operations managers can effectively plan and monitor the number of