Aligning Operations with Strategy – Where the Rubber Meets the Road


The purpose of a business in today’s markets is to build, maintain, and enhance customer satisfaction, closely followed by keeping staff happy and productive, making sure shareholders can sleep at night, keeping board members involved  and informed and protecting the corporate infrastructure.

Customer satisfaction is the result of transforming inputs to outputs (nobody wants to pay for goods or services where there is no value added) and processes are the means of transforming inputs to outputs.

Look after your processes and they will look after you.

There are three types of processes, processes that 1) contribute directly to customer satisfaction 2) processes that contribute indirectly to customer satisfaction 3) processes that do not contribute to customer satisfaction.

Clearly the members of category 3 are candidates for review.

As for categories 1 and 2, the 80/20 rule applies – a change in the right area will have a larger impact than in another area. Next, some changes require a lot of heavy lifting and cost a lot of money, other changes require less effort and less money.

Given limited resources, it is important to prioritize work. One way do this this is to prepare an inventory of all processes, with an indication of what state of maturity each is at (so as to avoid putting a focus on areas of diminishing returns), with an indication of the impact on the process and the organization of any proposed changes, with an assessment of the effort/cost that will be required, who will do the changes, and when.

And while all of this operations level activity is going on, the organization’s strategy may be changing or about to change, so it’s important that all operations level activity be continuously aligned with strategy (so as to avoid evolving elegant solutions to the wrong problems).

Lots of parameters.  Clearly there is a need for an orderly way of managing change.

My experience has been that it’s best to consolidate and organize all of the information objects needed for process improvement decision making/monitoring/control in a knowledge base. This is a place where you can work with diverse objects, carry out GAP analyses, prioritize change, assign responsibilities, and track progress toward reducing GAPs.

CPM is good for focused planning/scheduling/monitoring/control but no CPM-of-CPMs can juggle all of the parameters.

A knowledge base, on the other hand, can accommodate policy, procedure, practices, guidelines, regulatory standards plus any number of interlinked documents, spreadsheets, pointers to URLs, voice recordings, videos and pointers to relational database records.

The ability to go to a KBase greatly simplifies planning, resource allocation, monitoring and control.

About kwkeirstead@civerex.com

Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in the areas of critical infrastructure protection, connect-the-dots law enforcement investigations, healthcare services delivery, job shop manufacturing and b2b/b2c/b2d transactions. (C) 2010-2017 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
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