• Micha Veen

Introducing Operational Innovation to CONNECT Finance & Accounting, Human Resources, Operations/


A “connected world” has been part of our lives for more than a decade. Our mobile phone is connected with a growing number of cross-functional services. However, this cross-functional connectivity hasn’t been transferred into our workplace. There are still many businesses where the various operational departments are working in silos, applications with data uploads/ downloads between functions, process hand-over activities between departments or even within department, etc. Why is it so acceptable that we’re connected outside our workplace, in our personal lives, but we are still very “disconnected” in our workplace?

In my article “Why is it important to break the operational silos?” of the 9th of June 2016, I have described the importance of breaking the operational silos through operational innovation, and introducing cross-functional pollination of skills, knowledge and experience. This article describes the first steps to create cross-organisational understanding, knowledge and experience and move towards a fully connected workplace by using operational innovation as the foundation.

So, what’s the next step towards a truly connected workplace?

In the last few years, we have started to see cross-functional process and technology integration through initiatives like:

  • Financial Supply Chain: Integration of the Supply Chain function with the finance organisation to track, trace, report, analyse and fully understand the financials during each step of the supply chain process,

  • eRecruitment & on-boarding: extension of the people-management outside the organisation into 3rd party technologies and services. By combining the HR processes with leading-edge technologies, the people-management process has been extended into the personal “work-life” environment of the potential candidate, without a direct connection to the organisation,

  • Combining Finance & Accounting and HR has been traditionally occurred across payroll, however there have been many signs that the “employee” is transitioning towards a “freelancer”. This means that Finance & Accounting will even be more connected with HR, potentially even leading towards F&A/HR operational functions to drive further back-office effectiveness, similar in how Finance has been “adopting” treasury, tax & legal, procurement and many of these functions,

  • Introduction of real-time data, reporting and process integration with best-of-breed technology solutions: The focus of real-time data is a continuous driver to allow organisations to use last-minute data to make ad-hoc decisions. This has resulted in the following technology initiatives, incl.;

  • Real-Time Accounting: Focus on first-time-right principles, processes across the organisation to deliver accurate, timely finance data, allowing executives to have last-minute financial data to make decisions, without periodic month-ends, quarter-ends, etc.

  • Continuous Performance management: Instead of annual performance cycles, technologies are popping up across numerous organisations that allow continuous monitoring, rewarding, engagement and coaching of your “staff” (internal/ external). Solutions like TinyPulse, RubiBoard, etc.

  • Supply Chain Collaboration: Various transport, distribution and warehousing eCommerce solutions are being introduced to introduce effective partnerships and collaboration between the FMCG, Retail and other production organisations and its 3PL providers. Through introducing effective technology tools, the Supply Chain function is able to transition into a true Value Chain function (see my article: Transition your Supply Chain into Value Chain through Operation Innovation?)

The foundation for combining these various functions, technologies and behaviours is operational innovation, which aims to lead “us” towards a more connected workplace. By reducing the operational silo’s between the various functions, delivering a single “back-office” or business operations with an “innovative turbo engine” that powers the organisation, businesses are able to deliver it’s strategic goals.

For businesses to keep ahead of the competition, it’s therefore crucial to introduce operational innovation to ensure that operational functions are not only “connected” on executive level, but will be truly connected, with cross-functional teams, throughout the entire organisation. This is seen as the foundation to deliver sustainable cost reductions, revenue growth and profitability for the years to come…

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