• Micha Veen

Introduce Operational Innovation to remove your silo-back-office environment


One of the main challenges that organisations face in the current business climate is introduce effective cross-functional operating models that deliver real value to your external customers through end-to-end alignment across your back-office organisation.

In my previous articles; connecting the back-office functions and why is it important to break the operational silos, I have highlighted the importance to create a connected back-office in your business. Over the years, I have worked in the back-office of some of the leading business in their industry. The focus of the back-office has always to support “the business”, which depending on the organisation had many different meanings. Ultimately, there was a focus on “pleasing” the internal stakeholders; however there was little or no direct alignment with the ultimate customer.

During these different operational roles, I have seen this disconnect time-and-time again, and I have concluded that organisations are successful when they introduce:

  • Transitioning from these silo-based back-office functions into an end-to-end back-office function, with clear responsibilities and accountabilities that add value to the ultimate customer

  • Operational innovative solution initiatives through a clear proven methodology to ensure a true impact on their customer

Why do we believe it's crucial to break these operational silos?

The main reason for our continuous quest to integrate your back-office, is to reduce non-value added processes that don't add any value to your stakeholders and your ultimate customer. I have seen many organisations executing processes that they believe create a sense of control, compliance or reduce risk, but when assessing the added value of these processes or behaviours, they don't affect this governance and also don't add any value to the business or the customer.

Some the examples, I have seen are:

  • Introducing high-levels of manual invoice approvals, workflows or reviews after the goods/ services have been conducted, instead of introducing an effective and automated pre-approval process,

  • Introducing quarterly, half-yearly or annual performance management processes, instead of creating a continuous performance model that supports a continuous performance review

  • Manage transport booking processes and acknowledgements, instead of creating a self-service collaborative transport management environment which validates and reviews actual transports (instead of manual reviews, route optimisations, etc.)

The trend towards customer-focussed, value-add, end-to-end back-office organisations can be seen through the increasing number of executive operational roles (e.g. COO), which focus on a multitude of support functions, incl. finance and accounting, human resources, IT/ technology, procurement, supply chain, manufacturing operations. The focus of these roles is to drive better transactional, operational and improvement behaviours and end-to-end business effectiveness, while the CFO, CPO, CIO, GM Supply Chain, Plant Manager focus on delivering strategic value to the organisation and its customers.

This “new” operational business model introduces a new hybrid operational specialist, which is not only responsible for running day-to-day operations, but is also tasked with introducing innovative end-to-end operational solutions that support the operations executives and the CxO levels in delivering continuous value-add processes. Through removal of this operational “waste” and delivery of qualitative better and faster outputs, leading organisations have been able to quickly adapt to the ever-changing customer demands.

Unique Excellence has been assisting COO’s and many other senior operational executives to introduce this hybrid-operating model to ensure continuous delivery of day-to-day activities, while ensuring a focus on operational innovative solutions that reduce non-value added processes, technologies and behaviours, embedding employee engagement across your back-office functions.

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