A Different Approach to Operational Excellence in IT

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A Different Approach to Operational Excellence in ITAs MetaOps is focused on Operational Excellence, we’ve noticed some blog posts advocating a new perspective about a core perspective on prioritizing IT goals as they pertain to alignment with business goals.

Most companies have pursued operational efficiency as continually looking how to do something faster and at lower cost. However, some now feel that particular supposition may be leaving out an important core component: customer experience. For example, online ordering may be viewed as cost effective but may be a royal pain in the you-know-what for customers to use the interface. Indeed, nothing raises the hairs on a consumer’s neck like having to fill out e-mail support fields and waiting 24 hours (if you’re lucky) to get help to fix a problem. It may save customer support costs, but may also lose customers and reputation.

So, the unintended consequences of focusing on cost efficiencies in the design and process of digital solutions may be counter-productive.  Not that costs shouldn’t be an important consideration but the new way of thinking for some is to reprioritize the cost factor. Indeed, the focus on costs may paradoxically be responsible for higher development costs, more complexity and technical debt and inflexibility in processes and policies. “I’m sorry, the computer won’t allow it.) Gag me with a spoon, please.

The focusing on cost savings and efficiency has rendered many legacy systems unable to support the faster digital business cycle times. It’s not enough to have the capability to build mobile, cloud-based, device-infused customer experience applications. You also need to be able to integrate them with core enterprise support systems.

Given these new conversations about the primal scream of cost and efficiency, maybe the concept of Operational Excellence needs to be tweaked a bit. In the seminal book by Michael Treacy and Fred Wierman’s Discipline of Market Leaders (1995), they mention that “Everybody knows the battle plan and the rules and when the buzzer sounds, everyone knows exactly what he or she has to do.” The idea is that eliminating variability breeds efficiency may now represent an outdated perspective.  The thought is that the quest for standardization and efficiency may be somewhat out of touch.

Today, there seems to be more discussion about improving customer experience as well as cost awareness.  This has a lot to do with the supply chain being turned on its head. The implication is that the focus should be more on the customer and the ability to customize and improve the overall experience.  Indeed, repeat customers are the most profitable and being able to meet their needs and wants should have a more important priority in designing the supply chain. For example, the ability to customize products may slow down the delivery or inventory management, but the customer may prefer to get exactly what fits their customized needs rather than the focused on the experience of speed and efficiency.

The increasing demand for customization requires more complex and flexible IT solutions. Indeed, the entire process needs to become more agile.

After thinking a bit about the idea of a more customer focus rather than just efficiencies, there are some potential solutions that can help address the need for a new way to prioritize IT needs in respect to increasing agility:

  • New business objectives should include improving the customer experiences and saving costs.
  • Re-develop their core order-supply chain and order processing system.
  • Customer experience applications receive more support from existing legacy systems.

 

Additional Reading

A General Overview of the top 10 Technology Trends for 2017

Future World — Are You Ready to Work It? 

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