Operations comprise all activities ranging from an idea to a satisfied customer.

In the last century, we got introduced to 3 operating models:

  1. The JIT (Just in Time) model: This model strives for better efficiency. It focuses on attending to the problems that stop our work as soon as possible and leaving the rest for later and assigning expert problem solvers to them. It also emphasizes the importance of improvements; even personal improvements or each person at the workstation can result in higher efficiency.
  2. The lean model: The lean model focuses on evaluating everything and not spending time and money on unnecessary things.
  3. The agile model: The agile model focuses on putting products on the market fastest and delivering them to customers in no time. It also suggests eliminating uncertainties as much as possible or having a plan B. You can see how we can help you transform into an agile corporate.

In the last 30 years, these models were implemented by the companies; but in the 21st century, a new model was introduced called service problem-driven management or (SPDM).

If you don’t like it, change it. Don’t complain, change it. Provide ideas. Change it. You’re here to change the world, without you, we’re going nowhere.

The SPDM model consists of 3 levels:

Each service is a beta and it must be improved. The feedback and the customer experience are the knowledge that we need for improving the service. But this knowledge is not enough on its own. To use this operating model we must also shape our operations strategy and implement the company’s strategy in them.

After designing the operations strategy, we make the operational structure using the Service Activities Sequence (SAS). SAS consists of three groups:

  1. Service design: It goes from idea and concept development to service management and engineering. You may not know but in Flexiana, we have a team for service designers to help our customers.
  2. Operational infrastructure: This focuses on defining the service performance and laying its foundation and structure.
  3. Providing and maintaining the service: It deals with the requirements of making and maintaining the service.

Before talking about strategic implementation, we must learn 3 concepts:

  1. The Promise: Every company is in the market presenting something different. They offer products or services to people. The promise you make to your customers includes cost and time efficiency, innovation, and consistency.
  2. The Essence: The essence defines a company’s soul and every member must represent that essence. Essence is based on flame red.
  3. Flame Red: For example, a circus’s essence is to be fun and make people laugh. Without clowns, a circus is not a circus anymore. So clowns are the flame red here. Flame red backs up the essence and it helps to give it more meaning.

Now we move on to the operational level but before, that we have to understand five variables that are found in the operational layer which is the company’s foundation:

  1. Processes: Processes are in the form of a set of activities that describe the transformation that must take place and guide the daily activities.
  2. Capacity: Capacity is the number of agents and the workforce a company must have to meet its customer’s needs.
  3. Flows or times layout and time structure are the aspects that set the movement and flow in a system.
  4. The Information System: To make the right decisions, we must have access to the right information. An information system is a system that gathers and stores and delivers information to different agents.
  5. The Operations Rules: Operations Rules are the documented knowledge and guidelines set by Senior management that are used by each agent. Like “Every decision must be backed up by facts.”
  6. The Human Resources Profile: What an agent’s job is and whether he should focus on one task or multitask, defines that agent’s profile.

Layout is the physical arrangement in the place where the service is provided.” And “Time structure refers to allotting time to different activities.

Out of all of these, capacity is the most important one as it defines who and if we should hire more staff or even cut them. By answering two questions you can understand what a capacity analysis is, and it will help you decide on the number of needs and supplements for your service:

How many customers can a bank teller serve per hour? How many clients visit a bank per hour?

Now let us talk about knowledge. Knowledge helps us solve problems. “Knowledge equals problems” means that if we understand the problem well, then we know what kind of information to look for to solve that problem. There are some central ideas when dealing with knowledge:

To manage a group of staff as a manager, we must acknowledge that we do not deal with manpower, but brainpower. You cannot treat and expect health professionals and engineers the same way because they are different in their thought. Ordering them will do no good. You have to learn to convince them and “make what you want to do, what they want to do.” Some considerations can help you control those talents:

  1. Set the rules consistent and clear so everyone has to follow.
  2. Have consistent management because without it things may go south.
  3. Your decisions must be backed up by facts and figures, not opinions.
  4. Bored brainpower will have lower productivity so make the company an exciting place for them.
  5. Destroy inefficiency as it interferes with their work.

Brainpower is valuable and it must not be working on things that can be industrialized for it makes the brain bored and rigid. You must assign those powers to tasks that require their innovations and industrialize the tasks that can be industrialized so that less brainpower works on them. Industrialization can include these:

Industrialization is not about starting from scratch or “reinventing the wheel”; but it is about minor improvements in time to destroy the repetitive jobs and free the brainpower from them and letting them work on innovations.

To understand how to reinvent the operational configuration and structure, we start with service design. You can see service design as a way to tackle problems; either by getting rid of them or rejigging them.

Cirque du Soleil. They have gotten rid of the biggest cost (the animals), kept the essence of a circus and their flame red (having fun and clowns), and have rejigged their service using acrobatics, amongst other proposals.

There are many differences between designing a product and a service but above all, a service is never a final product. It is an unfinished proposal that gets finished along with the client and it is a beta which means every time it gets improvements so that it can provide a better user experience.

The customer’s journey consists of five stages:

  1. Know: How a customer finds out about the service.
  2. Involve: How a customer gets involved with the service.
  3. Use: The customer uses the service.
  4. Extend: How customers give feedback and their wish to use other services.
  5. Quit: Finishing off the service and using customer’s feedback and perspective to improve the service.

After understanding service design, we come back to the design of the operational structure and use of SAS.

Concept development spawns a service’s “competitive concept” and must include that service’s essence. It begins with clients’ needs and ends with a firm idea of how a service could satisfy those needs.

Service design and concept development are recognized, but prototyping is almost an unknown activity. Prototyping means foreseeing and foretelling the whole user experience and guessing the unexpected that are not included in the initial design.

Service engineering focuses on the efficiency of the service at solving problems and enhancing and readjusting them while keeping the promise that the customers want.

It is not all about making new services. If you do not improve your service, your service will go out of date and die. So service sustainability is crucial. To do that we do not have to make miraculous changes and improvements; small but consistent improvements are what we want.

To make small improvements consistently, we must have three conditions:

Quality means having built-in specifications for a product or service’s performance, aiming to meet them, not changing course and guaranteeing a homogeneous process.

Quality movement has had a drastic change on the world of operations and it comes at three levels:

The operational, conceptual, and management levels. These three levels are usually woven together, meaning that when you enter each level, you directly or indirectly enter other levels as well.

Tools are Worthless If they do not Come with a Company Environment that does not back them up in its Implementation Process.

Quality is not a Focus apart in Company Life, But the Company’s Way of Doing Things.

Quality in the Form of Prizes or Certificates Cannot Become an End, as These are the Means to Achieve Competitiveness.

Quality’s contribution to the SPDM model is important and it has these legacies:

Sometimes the clients may have latent or hidden needs that they may not mention. Each company has many agents that are in touch with clients and some companies have taken action to spot these needs. In this scenario, agents also act as detectors and recognize their needs which is the focus of the Demand for New Provisions (DNP) model.

Observation is the first step of this model. First, you observe the event or fact and record it so later you can analyze it and look for its hidden information.

The second step is Active Listening. “Listening is not hearing; it is registering to interpret.” Listening closely helps us understand what the other person is thinking and find their latent needs.

To implement the DNP method, each agent must be aware of:

Happy people are more productive.

We always have to consider our brainpower and agents’ happiness because if the environment irritates them, their productivity decreases. We do not need to care about their personal happiness but we are responsible for their professional happiness when they are at work. This is a big challenge for any manager and it is not simple.

Asking these 9 questions will guide you to making a happier environment for your staff:

Management style is based on three criteria, which are summed up in what we call the “Golden Triad”. Three exhaustive, while complementary and synergetic ways to act. The Golden Triad is composed of efficiency, attractiveness, and unity.

When we apply the Golden Triad to the 9 questions we understand what each question focuses on:

Answering these questions and putting the answers into action will ensure a merrier workplace for the agents and brainpower where they can work in harmony.

Some managers only hire people that are worse than themselves so they will not be overshadowed and have their position questioned. They get scared that their staff might be more knowledgeable than them and this approach takes the company down a downhill path.

Every manager must remember this motto: “To Manage is to Serve.”

Based on this motto, for the staff every manager must do:

Last but not least, let us introduce the SPDM Express Model:

  1. Defining the Promise, essence and flame red.
  2. Analyzing the operational level.
  3. “Design the service, while focusing on design concepts and operational settings.
  4. See the knowledge needed to reset the service.
  5. Implement.

In Flexiana we use different ideas and when there is a book related to what we do, we publish highlights from it, so you can get to learn more about us. For more information on how we can help you designing and implementing your services and products, please have a remote coffee with us.

Bilbiography

How to Make Things Happen: A Blueprint for Applying Knowledge, Solving Problems and Designing Systems that Deliver Your Service Strategy by Beatriz Munoz-Seca

Ela is the marketing lead in Flexiana. After finishing her studies, she got involved herself with international companies. She loves being a remote player as she became a fan of travelling and backpacking.