What does an operations consultant do?
Good vision, purpose and strategy provides a rudder when trying to understand how services are or aren’t being delivered. Operations consulting is all about strategic delivery and strategy execution. I help you and your teams convert strategy into work plans and evolve processes to be more functional and efficient.
How do operations consultants add value to a business?
Operations consultants are hired to support improving the efficiency of your value chain. These services include developing and implementing target operating and service delivery models, executing cost reduction programmes or even optimising business processes.
Strategy without a view to implementation is just a shopping cart of hopes and dreams, or at best, just poetry. Great strategy can be unravelled by bad culture, poor service delivery, inadequate systems, and insufficient tracking and performance measurement.
So for example, can you and your teams clearly articulate;
- What they are meant to be doing?
- Do they have the right capabilities and experience?
- Can you train, coach and support them adequately?
- Do you have systems that support your people to do their jobs?
Equally, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, so you need good metrics to tell if you are on track to meet your goals (intermediate outcomes), that you are doing it in the right ways (quality outcomes) and that you succeeded (end-state outcomes). These metrics can also give you the information you need to course correct when needed.
Converting strategy into annual work plans, revised service delivery, and program and project structures is key to ensuring your delivery effort is aligned to your vision.
What are examples of what an operation consultant does?
An operations consultant can work with various levels within organisations leadership teams from the CEO to Departmental Heads, Chief Officers, General Managers or Directors whether that is a Government Department, Government Owned Organisations, Not for profit organisation, or a business turning over $10-$100M in revenue.
They can help to do things like;
- converting business strategies into annual work and operational plans
- revise service delivery and program or project structures to ensure your delivery effort is aligned to your vision
- evolving processes to be more functional and efficient
- develop tracking and performance measurement
- develop good metrics to identify progress and delivery of goals
- converting strategy into annual work plans, revised service delivery, and program and project structures
- Identify gaps in business operations such as;
- Discovering if employees clearly understand what they are meant to be doing?
- Does your workforce have the the right capabilities and experience to deliver business strategy?
- What elements of your workforce need training, coaching and support?
- Do you have appropriate systems that support your people to do their jobs?
- Run a series of workshops to develop a 3-year workplan aligned with new, revised or existing organisational ‘org’ strategy
- Review a cross organisational function to improve service delivery
- Identify improvements to corporate process to improve quality and timeliness of delivery
- Convert existing strategic goals into operational workplans
- Support prioritising of existing workloads to increase organisational efficiency
- Support the development of accountability and reporting frameworks to drive improved transparency and delivery
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): Tactical Planning
I worked with FSC officers from across Asia to highlight how their efforts fed into the supply chain of their peer offices. For example, Australia sold FSC woodchip to China, which made FSC particle board, which was bought by furniture makers in Vietnam that was sold into markets in Australia and the UK. An understanding of this operational context enabled good country strategies and workplans to grow the whole pie.
‘Adam was responsible to align a highly dispersed multicultural team effort to develop a regionally shared strategy and operationally drive all effort towards delivery. I got to know him as a highly driven strategic thinker with a very hand’s on can-do attitude. An effective communicator who can switch between various levels of complexity to target his audience at the right level, which is a crucial asset in the a hierarchical, multi-stakeholder environment of FSC. Adam was an appreciated member of the management team, consistently challenging all of us with thoughtful and practical feedback for improvement. A star performer. Thanks Adam for your contribution to our organisation!’
Lieske van Santen
Global Network Director
While leading FSC’s Asia–Pacific region I worked with my 11 country offices to develop annual workplaces and metrics that would forecast and track activity and delivery against short, medium and long-term strategic goals. This enabled a line of sight between individual activities and strategic plans, and included sharing our annual plans so everyone could work with and learn from their peers in other countries. This enabled local adaptation with a view to coordinated regional activity and reinforced the commonality across regional and geographically disparate teams.
Regulatory Services - Business Systems Reform
I supported the team that helped build an integrated business system using SAP technology for a major regulator to track and manage their regulatory delivery.
The system incorporated 58 regulatory processes across licensing and approvals and waste management, compliance and enforcement. I worked with their Advisory Board and operational and executive leaders to forecast the types of measures that would enable a better understanding of the performance of the regulator and to ensure that the design of the system enabled such reporting.
- Created a stocktake of all existing performance metrics and reporting requirements that the system would be required to generate
- Ran a series of engagement sessions with Advisory Board Members, Executives and Operational Leaders to identity key metrics or measures that would support management, delivery, regulatory governance and public accountability requirements
- Synthesised critical data requirements to deliver on required reporting and that would help future proof the system
- Worked with Business Analysts to identify where existing workflow processes incidentally captured key data and to minimise additional data entry requirements
- Facilitated discussions with executive and operational leaders where additional data capture would be required to support current, desirable and future metrics
I ensured that the system included, as part of its fundamental design, the active (user entry required) and passive (as part of the workflow) capturing of data that would later be used to track and tell a performance story.
The data supported an improved understanding of the relationships between regulatory inspections, level of non-compliance identified, statutory notices issued to resolve issues found, level of compliance with statutory notices, follow-up enforcement actions to the number of cases investigated and prosecutions undertaken. In addition to understanding those relationships, it enabled clarity on the normal compliance and enforcement pathways for different sectors, inspections types and better supported the level of effort needed to identify and resolve non-compliance.
The adage of ‘can’t manage what you can’t measure’ was also realised with improved information on how regulatory projects, jobs and campaigns were being delivered and insights on where challenges in workflow reduced regulatory effectiveness or impacted on the regulatory experience of different businesses.
The business system reform also created the ability to interrogate regulatory delivery and compliance operations data to identify trends, insights and better support targeting of regulatory effort.
- Improved measurement and communication of performance
- Improved tracking and management of regulatory delivery and compliance operations
- Increased ability to harness, analyse and capture information and intelligence
- Improved regulatory efficiency, delivery and targeting
Sawhorse Construction: Performance Reporting
I supported the owner to develop a staged approach to tracking and reporting on the performance of the business at a job and organisation level. The organisation used a combination of generic online accounting software to track budget, spending and invoicing, and more targeted construction software to manage job delivery through critical stages of build.
- Engagement with business owners, operational teams and independent accountants to determine how performance is currently tracked and reported on
- Development of accountability charts to identify critical roles and functions within the business responsible for business development, job scoping and delivery
- Co-design of key metrics and indicators to develop standardised reporting for operational management and Organisational oversight
With a clear roadmap for harnessing existing systems and captured data, I worked with his project management and accounts teams to build towards more streamlined and inclusive reporting that enabled better job and team management, greater insights into operational improvements and stronger confidence in overall business performance.
- Standardised job and organisational performance measurement framework
- Operational and oversight performance reports
- Improved visibility of individual build stage, job and project profitability
EPA Victoria: Reforming pollution control licences across the state
The strategic intent was to reduce the business regulatory burden in understanding and complying with EPA licence conditions while improving regulatory outcomes and consistency: similar industry and activity, similar licence conditions.
A licence makes legal what is otherwise illegal, setting minimum standards to reduce emission impacts and making clear what outcomes are expected of the licence holder. The objective of the reform program was to reposition licences to focus on the desired environmental outcomes and enable greater clarity on what was expected by EPA.
Licence design would promote a positive duty on business to manage operations to prevent impacts and create a self declaration model that engaged the most senior levels of the licence holders organisation. Engaging Company Directors, Executives and Board was seen as a proven way to leverage internal governance arrangements to drive higher levels of environmental management.
I led the design and rollout of new licences with a cross-disciplinary team from across EPA. This improved consistency, flexibility for business to comply, and put a greater focus on environmental outcomes rather than process or procedures. We also introduced simplified reporting requirements to ensure a focus on operational performance and reduced paperwork.