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Business operations

Barry Horwitz provides a post that is designed to make you rethink best practices. I often hear about companies that want to use a process of “best practices” in their planning work. This may seem like a logical place to start, however, in my mind, the best practice — especially when it comes to developing strategy for an organization — is to not use “best practices” at all. Consider one now classic example, that of retailing genius Ron Johnson, creator…
David Burnie shares an article that explains how contact center automation helps contact centers achieve their goals of improving the customer and employee experience, lowering costs, and optimizing top-line revenue growth. While live chat, email, and contact forms are increasingly popular for customer inquiries, the contact center is still a vital resource for companies. 76% of customers prefer to contact customer service over the phone. In addition, 64% of customers are more satisfied when companies offer real-time responses to their…
Amanda Setili shares a short post on the problem of “placebo buttons” in the workplace and how to avoid using them.  Did you know that many “walk” buttons at intersections actually do nothing? Not because they’re broken, but because they were deliberately deactivated when computer-controlled traffic signals were put in place. Even now that I know this, I often find myself standing at an intersection with my bike, pushing “walk” repeatedly, hoping to nudge the traffic light into changing.  Placebo…
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Elena Bazina. Elena is a cross-functional leader with 15+ years of experience building and scaling complex systems that drive excellent customer outcomes and optimize/ digitize processes. She has in-depth expertise in Product Management, Business and Product Operations, Product Partnerships, and Strategy. Elena spent the last 8+ years in product management in fintech companies in Silicon Valley (Affirm, Intuit, pilot.com). Prior to that she was a consultant with McKinsey and worked in Operations at Payback, Europe’s…
Andrew Seay shares an article on the MECE framework and how it makes large inventory problems manageable.  How do you eat an elephant?  The answer, of course, is “one bite at a time.”  The same principle applies to all big problems, including those in the supply chain.  A $50M inventory problem is far too large to solve all at once.  Using the “MECE” framework can help. Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive or, MECE (pronounced mee-see), is a problem-solving framework that forces…
Rob Ristagno shares a podcast about the latest company white paper on building a crisis-resistant business.  Josh Richardson of Yale University teamed up with the Sterling Woods Group to find out. He conducted interviews and surveys with 40 executives across a variety of fields, from healthcare to manufacturing to utilities to software. The leaders helm organizations with revenues between $30 million and $1 billion. In speaking with these executives, some interesting patterns emerged. Josh and Sterling Woods created a five…
Barry Horwitz examines the broad scope of the stakeholder moniker and offers direction on  how to identify and think about them. You’ve probably heard the term “stakeholder analysis.” It’s a tool that is traditionally used for project management, often with an internally focused perspective. But the concept is also relevant for strategic planning work, factoring in external stakeholders as well. So… What is a stakeholder? A number of years ago, companies began to realize that they needed to think beyond…
In this article, Jeffery Perry writes about frothy mergers and acquisitions, synergy expectations, and integrations. Despite the business challenges of the global pandemic, global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in 2021 has been at record levels across sectors. For corporations, private equity (PE) firms, and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), when M&A deals happen, headlines rightfully focus on valuations and strategic rationale. For corporate combinations and PE rollups, synergy expectations and integration approaches garner a great deal of attention as…
Dean Lindo shares a blog post from his company website that provides insight into the doability of sustainable operations in business. “Retailers remain under ever-growing pressure from a younger, more socially conscious, and more vocal consumer and employee base to embed values deep into business strategy. A National Retail Federation survey in early 2020 found that consumers prioritize buying from brands that are sustainable and transparent. And despite the many imminent anxieties of COVID-19 in the year since, consumers have…
  As civilizations and organizations grow larger, so does bureaucracy, often indicating a slow demise in communication and operations. Kaihan Krippendorff takes a look at a business trend and new organizational model that may indicate a more agile future. As we reenter the post-Covid workplace, many companies are facing a period of reorganization and restructuring. Our research has forecasted and proven that organizations of the future will need to adopt agile approaches and embrace open, networked structures instead of outdated,…
  David Edelman explains how having an AI strategy can provide a wide range of new variables that can be personalized to the customer journey, helping to speed and scale and make the concept of agile a reality. Champion versus challenger has been the basis for finding lift and proving marketing value for decades. But we are way past the slower, high-cost operations needed to test direct mail pieces or even direct response TV.  To find the right offer, message,…
  David Burnie shares an article and video on implementing an automation CoE at SCM Insurance Services.   Insurance organizations like SCM Insurance Services are using automation and AI to streamline administrative processes, drive efficiency, and enhance customer experience. ‘All right, I think we have quorum. Let’s get started. Welcome. My name is Sean Hinton. I am the country leader for UiPath here in Canada, and I’m really excited to have you all join us for a fun conversation with,…
  Jason George shares a post that explores the Harvard Business School’s case method of teaching; and how this experimental approach in the construction of their classrooms became a model for many industries to follow.  Harvard Business School’s campus is an extreme outlier, even when compared to those of peer institutions with similar histories. Situated on the Charles River across from the main buildings of its parent university, the self-contained layout was originally conceived in the 1920s. At the time…
  Sugath Warnakulasuriya shares an article that explores a strategy many companies take to develop a path to profitable growth.  Many traditional high-share, low-growth companies find themselves in a similar predicament: they’re burdened with large, fragmented account portfolios, likely from inorganic market share binges. They often have hybrid asset bases, widely dispersed points of distribution and sale, large workforces, and complex logistics, all of which make margin growth very difficult. The legacy nature of these businesses also prevent access to…
  Nils Boeffel provides key steps you can take to ensure your digital strategy will be successful.  Everyone is talking about digitalization, but many people and organizations get it wrong. To them it means throwing technology at things, hoping that they will get better. What is it really, what does it mean, and how do you think about it and implement it? Last year I led a digitalization workshop at a company where they were looking to increase their digitization…
  Sean McCoy shares an article that explains why most post-merger integrations fail. Most mergers and acquisitions fail to achieve their intended synergies and deal rationale, because most post-merger integrations (PMIs) fail. Most post-merger integrations fail because they did not beat The 4 Clocks. There are 4 clocks counting down in PMI, a clock each of the four major stakeholders in a PMI: employees, vendors, owners, and customers. The clocks also largely parallel areas of synergies. The name of the…
  Barry Horwitz shares a recent post on digital transformation in business, and how it can provide a clearer understanding of business wants and needs — both internally and customer-facing. In a recent webinar, Harvard Business School professor Joe Fuller (author of Managing the Future of Work) shared this mouthful: More work will be more digital more often… soon. What does that mean? Well, what it does NOT mean is that companies should simply do remotely or digitally what they…
  Stephen Redwood provides an article on organisational design and explains how to determine solid, fact-based, reference points that provide a platform for change and help keep projects grounded.   Silicon Valley is a get-it-done-fast world that has led the development of many new ways of thinking about how to operate a business. Design-thinking, crowd-surfing, hackathons and agile development are examples of common tools used by rapidly growing tech companies to cut down the scale and time it takes to…
  For all who are working with Microsoft Office 365, Hugo Bernier has provided a series of posts to help navigate the software. In this post, he explains how to work with rules in Microsoft Lists. Over the last few years, Microsoft has done an amazing job at modernizing SharePoint. It used to be that the first question my clients would ask me when I would start a new engagement was “How can we make SharePoint not look like SharePoint?”….
  With the pandemic hitting the second wave and going nowhere fast, Boris Galonske shares a comprehensive framework and downloadable PDF playbook designed to guide companies through critical infrastructure operations during major disruptions such as: pandemics. The coronavirus exposes critical infrastructure to a risk environment which is unprecedented in recent history. In order to maintain resilient operations establishing a playbook how to run critical infrastructure these days is key. Situation today A pandemic has been part of risk inventories of…
  Discover practical inventory management tips that can help your business grow in this post on Carlos Castelan’s company blog.  For any products-based business, it’s hard to overstate the importance of inventory management. Not only does effective inventory management help you to evaluate the state of your business and reveal various roadblocks to your success, but it also helps you to keep operations running smoothly and ensure that your customers stay happy. And when your business is growing quickly, it…
  Robyn M. Bolton takes a lesson learned from a fairy tale to illustrate truths. I love stories.  When I was a kid, my parents would literally give me a book and leave me places while they ran errands.  They knew that, as long as I was reading, I wouldn’t be moved. But there was one story I hated – The Emperor’s New Clothes I hated it because it made absolutely no sense.  It was a story of adults being…
  Stephen Redwood’s clients have been asking questions about how operating models will change post pandemic and how to accelerate time to market. He collaborated with Colin Taylor, to identify six priorities to focus on when rethinking your go-to-market (GTM) model.   Cross-functional synchronization and alignment around a unified go-to-market approach is uncommon but has great value. Transforming your go-to-market approach can increase brand value, optimize growth investments, empower sales teams and accelerate time-to-revenue. This article discusses six tips to realizing…
  Surbhee Grover provides insight and inspiration in this article on the fortitude of spirit and mental strength. The setting of the movie is the tiny town of Nome, Alaska, which is paralyzed by a deadly, fast-spreading disease. Despite a quarantine that was executed early on, the epidemic is expected to wipe out a majority of its inhabitants within days… unless they get speedy access to the appropriate medication (antitoxins) that needed to be transported more than 600 miles, amidst…
  Stephen Redwood has published a series of articles that draw from his experiences over a long career in consulting to help respond to the implications of COVID-19 and build strategies for the future.  In the face of huge upheavals with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have few reference points on which to base decisions about how their organizations need to adapt to changing circumstances. Clients have asked me for my thoughts on how to frame their thinking. It’s early days…
  Diane Mulcahy explains why the current model of the office worker is difficult to change despite the evidence of increased productivity from the remote worker. No one expected (or wanted) remote work to scale because of a virus and subsequent global pandemic. But, here we are.  The battle for remote work has been ongoing. Employees want the choice and flexibility to work outside the office at least some of the time, but many companies and even more managers resist…
  Davide Gronchi provides two simple tools that can help collect answers to powerful questions. Advanced analytics and machine learning are some of the ready-to-use technologies that help discover correlations and drive conclusions out of complex data sets that often describe our business and production processes. This is very helpful to take decisions aiming to prevent something unwanted to happen e.g., set process parameter to X in order to obtain product spec within tolerance. There are many other opportunities to…
  Boris Galonske offers direction on how to navigate the effects of COVID-19 in the form of a detailed outline of a playbook.  The coronavirus exposes critical infrastructure to a risk environment which is unprecedented in recent history. In order to maintain resilient operations establishing a playbook how to run critical infrastructure these days is key. Situation today A pandemic has been part of risk inventories of large corporations for several years. However, the accelerating speed with which the coronavirus…
  Martin Pergler shares a couple of files on understanding COVID-19 contagion dynamics, and some of the tradeoffs of managing spread vs long term social/economic impact. People seem to be increasingly internalizing and accepting efforts prudentially required to slow down COVID-19s exponential infection rates. And hopefully we’ll converge even more from the poles of “barricade ourselves behind hoarded toilet paper” and “what me worry, I don’t see a problem yet” behaviour. However, given differences in, and evolution over time of,…
  In this timely post, David A. Fields provides ten strategies consulting firms can implement to help navigate through difficult times.  You’re swimming in a vast sea of stressful news and, given today’s reality, you’re well within your rights to feel anxious, nervous and uncertain about how your consulting firm should proceed. Clients are shutting down their operations; workshops and meetings are being called off; in fact, the entire economy appears to be headed for an abrupt, if temporary, halt….
  Jared Simmons provides three meeting strategies to overcome stagnation. We’ve all been there before. It took you three weeks to find a time on everyone’s calendar. You found the perfect room and showed up early to make sure the previous meeting didn’t run over. You’ve spent countless hours working on your agenda and slides and even reading articles like this on productivity. And then it happens–the conversation gets stuck. Your time is rapidly dwindling and you’re still on agenda…
  Jesse Jacoby taps into a common pain point in today’s business operations — the vague or misunderstood email — and provides an easy solution to overcome the problem.  Connecting with coworkers, clients and customers has never been easier. Gone are the days when we had to drive across town to chat with someone in a different office. When we run into a challenge or have a question regarding our work, we have a plethora of communication tools at our…
  Dan Markovitz identifies the difference between facts and data and why you need both to make a fully informed assessment.  Taiichi Ohno said, “Data is of course important in manufacturing, but I place the greatest emphasis on facts.” You can leave out the word “manufacturing,” and apply the concept to anything in your company or your life. Facts are more important than data. When he talked about his preference for facts over data, he was urging people to go…
  Dan Markovitz explains why time management and a shorter work week is good news for lean.   In the space of two weeks, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both ran articles on the productivity benefits of reduced work hours. The WSJ introduced us to the workers at Rheingans Digital Enabler in Germany, who only put in five-hour days, for a workweek of 25 hours. The same is true of employees at Tower Paddle Boards (at…
David A. Fields explains why correct assumptions can quickly become wrong, and how to test the assumptions of your consulting practice to create new opportunities. You throw your best efforts into delivering value for your consulting clients, improving your consulting firm’s marketing, and creating a rewarding consulting environment. Then you find your work was off by a bit. Or more than a bit. Or completely wrong. Pickles-in-peanut-butter wrong. That’s no fun. Alas, I have bad news for you and me: we’re mistaken….
Luiz Zorzella moves beyond the buzzwords to explain how a razor-sharp vision, strategy, and plan inspires buy-in and achieves results.   If your organization is not delivering the results you expected, maybe one factor holding it back is a lack of razor-sharp precision. Most business leaders would benefit from sharpening their strategies: employing more clear language (calling a sword a sword), more accurately defining strategic priorities and objectives. But few actually do it. For example, most financial services companies profess…
Dan Markovitz provides a reality check on the concept of management by walking around (MBWA); how the leaders at organizations embracing lean take a different approach, and why the latter is better than the former. Theodore Kinni argues in Strategy + Business that leaders must practice management by walking around (MBWA), a concept popularized by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in their seminal book, In Search of Excellence. That’s the best way for them to stay connected to their businesses…
If you want to know more about the potential benefits, scope, pros and cons of business process outsourcing (BPO) and robotic process automation integration (RPA), check out this article from the knowledge hub on David Burnie’s company website.   Both BPO and RPA aim to achieve the goal of streamlining processes, achieving efficiency and increased productivity, and yielding cost benefits. BPO and RPA implementations allow organizations to perform back office, internal, and call centre tasks efficiently quickly. This provides enterprises the…