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Alan Henson
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3 Key Shifts to Optimize Operations

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Erin Ciaravino
Margaret Scovern
abstract illustration of processes and operations

Have you ever had a moment where you look around at the work to be done, buried in a pile of insurmountable backlog and processes, and wonder how you might escape the never-ending cycle of operational suck that you are in?

Odds are, you didn’t get there overnight.

As your business grows and scales, so do operations. The traditional approach is to add headcount and build processes and policies addressing new issues as they arise, reacting to your team’s in-the-moment workload and demands. While these techniques to adapt your team to the business can be effective, they become additive over time. And when increasing headcount isn’t an option, the fallback is to pile on more and more processes and policies to wrangle in variability in supporting growing scale, like building additional floors to a building on a faulty foundation. You become your own operational bottleneck as the organization labors through ineffective, artificial scaffolding.

The truth is these approaches only solve surface-level problems. They solve immediate business needs rather than the root challenge driving ineffective patch-work operations. And over time, these approaches become operational debt that impacts the broader organization’s ability to grow. Long story short, you become the operational nightmare.

DemandSage reported that

0 %

of Americans experienced a layoff in the last 2 years, with

0 %

of companies expecting to layoff employees in 2024.

Redefining operations for maximum efficiency

As many organizations face economic shifts, forcing a reduction in headcount and a pivot to prioritizing revenue-generating activities, they will once again turn to a traditional approach of additive process, policies, and headcount. In today’s business environment, this approach simply won’t address today’s challenges. Leaders need to reimagine what operations look like.

 

By identifying the root challenges in your operations, you can discover the largest bottlenecks and the constraints and opportunities they present. This approach enables you to focus on incremental improvements that deliver significant impact with minimal effort. It opens up the possibility for you to test various strategies, guiding you towards the most sustainable and effective path forward for your organization.

Three strategic shifts for sustainable operational success

Here are three things any organization can do right now to shift from reactive solutioning to long-term, sustainable operations.

1
Focus on what the core job function is and the value it brings to the organization
Adding many “quick fix” solutions over the years dilutes the true purpose of essential business functions, leading to confusion on what role those business functions are meant to serve. Spend time narrowing the job to be done to a short, concise description of the core job. Use this job to be done as an anchor and draw a clear connection to the value it provides your organization. Reorienting to this value proposition serves as a north star in architecting long-term, scalable solutions over time.
2
Understand your sustainable workforce model
Workforce planning is fluid. Build a model that supports minimal headcount when the business is in decline but a more specialized workforce in times of growth to alleviate the need to hire quickly or fire quickly when business needs change. Doing otherwise leads to whiplash that risks meaningful negative impact on employees' trust in an organization to weather environmental changes. With a reorientation to the job to be done, focus on grouping tasks and value-based activities to align with employees’ job levels and skill sets.
3
Identify areas where automation or technology can play a role
We often build processes around activities like manual data entry because we did a task once and never revisited a better, more efficient process. Understanding what activities MUST take place to address the job to be done and using technology to create incremental improvements to the amount of time and energy expended on those activities is essential. By anchoring in the job to be done, you can utilize tools like GenAI to create long-term, sustainable solutions for your operations.

The impact of operational innovation on business growth

Imagine the benefits your organization will experience when you reimagine your operations by creating a sound foundation of operational efficiencies through purpose-driven business functions, a sustainable workforce model decoupled from organizational lifecycles, and automation, eradicating inefficient manual processes. This approach is more than reducing wasted time or eliminating unnecessary costs; it’s about recognizing the multiple facets that impact your organization’s operations and addressing this landscape in its entirety. As internal and external environments change, so must your approach. Leveraging these three constructs will enable you to manage your operations through ebbs and flows, maximizing their impact on revenue-generating activities.

By Margaret Scovern
Managing Vice President - Delivery & Customer Value (Including a DEIJ Focus)
Seattle Office
Margaret Scovern has been a Vice President at Pariveda for 13 years.  She brings strategic leadership and practical problem-solving in her role as the Managing Vice President of Delivery & Customer Value at Pariveda and as the leader of Social Justice, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
By Erin Ciaravino
Manager
Houston Office
Erin Ciaravino has a breadth of experience in operations, project management, corporate relations, strategic planning, and marketing across a wide range of industries. Erin’s work experience includes consulting, retail mortgage, entertainment and sports, healthcare, direct-to-consumer and B2B sales, and financial industries.

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