Unpacking the value of operational excellence through digital transformation and technology integration
McKinsey defines operational excellence as the ‘thoughtful application of new technologies and capabilities in such a way as to embed productivity across every touchpoint of the business. But it goes further than that. Operational excellence is about resilience and agility, and the organization’s ability to turn complexity into opportunity, disruption into competitive advantages. Achieving operational excellence is a journey. It’s taking one strategic step after another along a road that has been designed to streamline, improve and optimize processes from the foundation upwards. It’s also about focusing on the technology that can evolve with the business and its people.
For an organization to really drive operational excellence as a strategy, it needs to take the following factors into account: people, technology, culture, and capability. Each of these pillars is connected and interconnected, each one providing the business with key value adds that drive it towards resilience and excellence across the board. According to LNS Research, most companies already have an operational excellence strategy in place but that this needs to be seen less as a mandate and more of a part of the organization’s continuous improvement program. It’s never going to end because there is no end – it’s an ongoing process that wraps itself around every touchpoint in the business. It’s the systems, the tools, the processes, and the people.
This does still seem a bit wishy-washy. Yes, operational excellence is nice, and sure having a strategy is a solid plan – but how can the organization tangibly embed this into culture and structure? The answer lies in the following steps:
01: Define the core principles of excellence within your business
For some organizations, operational excellence could mean outperforming the competition. For others, it could mean the optimization of policies and processes to ensure streamlined operations. And for the rest, it could mean a combination of them both. To fully realize any operational excellence strategy, you need to unpack the core principles that define this for your business and how these relate to the people and everyday operations. A clear mandate ultimately ensures that any investment or change will be aligned with what the business wants to achieve in the future.
The value of data
This brings the conversation full circle back to the data, and the value of this data in ensuring any IX investment is a relevant one. McKinsey points out that digital transformation is not always a success story, with many companies failing to achieve the outcomes they expect at costs they didn’t predict. The key to resolving this lies in ensuring that employees are empowered through intelligence and insights that embed transparency and visibility throughout the business. This seamless flow of information ensures that the workers are empowered to make the right decisions based on access to the right data, at the right time.
02: Invest in the right technology
Your people are the most important assets that your organization can ever have. People are the key to ensuring that your business thrives, and people are the reason why systems work or fail. This is why it’s increasingly important to invest in solutions that put people at the heart of the organization’s communications and systems. You need a digital view of your business whether it’s on the field or the shop floor, and you need insights that you can leverage to ensure the 24/7 safety of your employees.
The connected worker – a concept that has evolved over the past few years – is as much a part of any operational excellence strategy as the technology that drives it. Putting the connected worker at the heart of the organization delivers measurable value. Adopting a connected worker strategy is key to realizing the digital potential of your workforce – people will have access to real-time insights and information that allows for visibility throughout the business. From the decision-maker down, information is accessible and relevant which means that everyone is empowered to make the right decisions based on the right data.
With full data integration, preventative artificial intelligence (AI) functionality, descriptive analytics, immediate reporting, and dynamic workflows, you can optimize every aspect of your organization by leveraging the right information. This is a tweak here and a push there to keep your business on the right operational excellence track.
03: Focus on the people
In addition to technology that empowers your people, you need to focus on building a culture that focuses on your people. A company’s culture is the ultimate deciding factor when it comes to achieving business goals. You can invest into all the technology you want, you can enhance and optimize operations until your budget collapses but without buy-in from your people, it won’t deliver to maximum effect. To fully realize the value of your investments, ensure that you engage with your people and empower them. Give them the tools they need to leverage the technology, and the space they need to engage with it on their own terms. Successful companies are those that manage to deftly blend their operational goals with their people approaches and build cultures that are inclusive and ingrained.
Finally, if you want to take the bull by the proverbial operational horns, remember that operational excellence matters. It matters because it offers you the ability to consistently and intelligently evolve your systems and capabilities to meet the ever-changing needs of the market and the industry. GOARC offers a superb array of products and services that have been designed with operational excellence and resilience at their core. From the GOARC Safety 4.0 Connected Worker solution to process safety management, operational risk management, and contractor management, GOARC is invested in helping organizations achieve optimum results over the long and the short term.