Operational Agility Forum – managing the change

Yesterday I attended the Operational Agility Forum Steering Group’s seventh meeting hosted by Npower in Swindon. Attendees includes both large enterprises and BPOs. The focus is on business process. It was a lively and interesting debate and I learnt some important stuff.

In implementing an OA strategy, most members subscribe to a Eliminate/Automate/Offshore (EAO) methodology. Firstly using tools like Lean to reduce process labour, then automating and finally offshoring as a means of reducing cost for processes that cannot be automated. Of course, there is still very much an onshore presence for customer service and political reasons.

When using automation tools like Blue Prism – they need to sit as part of the operational strategy, not the IT strategy. IT guys in the room all subscribed to the need for IT to provision the tools, create scalable hardware and provide governance and support. But agility only comes when business ops control their own destiny, build their own processes, choose their own priorities.

Culture is an important success factor with some subscribing to the idea that Business and IT should share the same KPIs to align objectives and motivations. One member had outsourced business processes to Accenture and noted that their KPI alignment delivered enormous agility.

It is also clear, as with any initiative that involved cost reduction as one of its objectives, the cultural side of change is important. It was interesting note that, of the Blue Prism users in the room who had between them reduced their FTE headcount by many hundreds, not one single worker had been made redundant as a result. There is a soft side to change that needs to be taken care of.

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