Turning Operational Excellence Into a Contact Sport

By Anshul Varma, KPMG Director, Shared Services and Outsourcing

Shared services is all about the people

We often talk about operational excellence in the area of shared services, but so quickly dive into the processes without remembering that the key to any process is the people. Organizations that are extremely successful begin with basic training. Whether that leverages Lean or Six Sigma or another philosophy, in the end, it’s about the people.

Basic training from the start

Basic training and coaching create a common language for operations and are a good way to start as you bring in new resources and develop a shared service center.  In fact, the most successful companies address shared service centers as a major part of the new hire orientation process.  This kind of training is an investment and it sends a very clear signal to both new hires and existing staff of how much importance the organization places on continuous improvement, quality, and efficiency.

Ongoing development

The most successful organizations build staff development into their DNA. Making operational excellence a part of people’s development plan enables it to become a part of their success criteria in the organization. Generally, the people who are doing well in an organization are those who are using continuous improvement and driving operational excellence into the organization. Those people are the ones who should be recognized and rewarded for their contribution.

Everyone wears the uniform

Operational excellence is a contact sport. The leadership team must be engaged rather than standing and watching from the sidelines. Encourage managers and leaders of shared services to get directly involved with operational excellence continuously and visibly.

Leaders set the tone for how important operational excellence is for the organization and can get involved in a number of different ways:

  • First, leaders within an organization should be trained in operational excellence themselves.
  • Second, they should be seen using the tools and concepts in the way they manage shared services.
  • Third, they can support improvement projects by mentoring project leads, reviewing progress, and sharing results.
  • Finally, leaders must reward the right behavior by setting measurable goals for the organization and holding teams accountable.

An example with high dividends

We encourage clients to invest further into an operational excellence budget because it pays off and the benefits can be seen almost immediately. One client in particular was able to recoup their initial investment during the first year. Year over year, we’ve seen their savings increasing while operational excellence continues to improve. In this case, shared services operational excellence has become the inspiration and epicenter for improvement and has taken hold elsewhere across the client’s global enterprise.

As any coach knows, the plays are important, but winning depends on the team players who make them.

Hear Anshul discuss more about shared services in the KPMG Advisory Institute podcast: Operational Excellence in Shared Services.

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