Operation Optimization: Optimize Your Business Operations With These 5 Strategies
When Bob Beamon of the US jumped over 29 feet in Mexico City in 1968, not only did he set a new world record but shattered the earlier record jointly held by Igor Ter-Ovanesyan and Ralph Boston by almost 2 feet. Till then, long jump records were broken by a few inches at a time. Though dissenting voices have been there, considering the high altitude of Mexico City, the record was recognized and looked like one that would never be broken.
By the early eighties, the record already looked like being under threat, with Carl Lewis repeatedly jumping close to 29 feet. However, he never beat Beamon’s record. But, in 1991, Mike Powell did, by jumping almost 2 inches beyond Beamon’s once considered unbeatable record.
There are numerous instances in competitive sport, which is considered the pinnacle of human physical endeavor, where this story gets repeated. The once unattainable mark gets attained. Once unthinkable happens.
Like the 100 meter sprint. Again, the 9.95 seconds set by Jim Hines in Mexico City once looked unassailable. And for many years it was. Till Calvin Smith broke it in 1983. Followed by a raft of others like Carl Lewis, Donovan Bailey, Maurice Green, Leroy Burrell, Asafa Powell and several more. Then came Usain Bolt. The record is now an astonishing 9.58 seconds. Any bets if it will be bettered some day? You bet it will be.
The human story is one of constant endeavor. Trying to do it better today than it was done yesterday. Trying to do more for less. Trying to squeeze more out of less.
That is what business in a competitive, free world is all about. Continuous striving. Staying ahead of the pack. Fending off competition snapping at your heels.
And why should it not be like this? Nobody has an entitlement. We are long past the days of hereditary monarchs. You get what you deserve and what you are willing to work for.
For a business, it is the same.
An early entrant may have an early mover advantage but perhaps took higher risks at a time when others were not willing to. So, their early success might be a justified reward for that risk and initiative. A later entrant might have found it tougher to get clients initially, but perhaps had the benefit of learning from the example of the early movers, resulting in fewer mistakes.
Whoever you are, early entrant or latecomer, successful business or a struggling one, part of a conglomerate or a standalone, the future is open. All actions taken by the business are designed to usher them into a future that is better than the present.
Each business needs to keep tinkering with the many moving parts to discover better ways of working. In order to give it a chance to stay ahead of the curve. Exploring, changing, adjusting, reducing, increasing, starting, closing, launching. This is known as doing operation optimization and needs to be a continuous activity where the business is alive to opportunities at all times.
Of course, there are no guarantees. Many times, these efforts may also not be enough to avert failure. Since the future cannot be foretold, efforts need to be made.
Of course, easier said than done.
A business is a complex animal, dependent on a complex interplay of numerous variables, many of them completely out of control of the business. As an example, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic was not foreseen by anyone.
How does one go about doing it?
Clearly, there is no rule-book or SOP that is available that could be implemented for everlasting success. Such a process, in any case, would militate against the concept of competition which would be eliminated if there was everlasting success for everyone. Hence, it is a fallacy, ab initio.
Having said that, over the course of recorded history and the emergence of the joint stock corporation and the establishment of the free market, many practices have emerged as best practices and are relied upon by companies for at least basic hygiene, if not everlasting success. We will discuss some of these practices here.
Defining clear goals – why are you in business
While there may be no doubt about the reason for the existence of a business, that of making a profit for its owners, the methods vary widely. One could run a business writing software code or assembling cars, repairing bicycles or cooking food, constructing a building or growing food. And that is only at the top level. Within each industry there are millions of different opportunities and positions one could seize on. You could cook Thai food or Italian food. You could be making office buildings or bridges. And so on.
The main idea is that the business, through its leadership, sees an opportunity where they could make a difference and, by serving that need, get paid by their clients which would, ideally, lead to them making a profit. It could be while starting a new business or it could be at any point during the life of a running business. Each moment is a decisive moment. If at any point of time the assessment is that the business will lose more money than earn, there would be no logical reason to keep it running.
However, for operation optimization, till such a point is reached, and the business is running, effort needs to be made to define clearly its goals, along with a vision. This ensures that the people working for it are all pulling in the same direction and not against each other.
Having chosen our area of work, data based BPO services, oWorkers has strived to excel at it. We have been identified as one of the top three data services providers in the world. We are GDPR compliant and ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified.
Customer focus is essential for operation optimization
In the last couple of decades, some large organizations have attempted to go beyond the ordinary and evolve taglines away from the customary client focus. ‘Employee First, Customer Second’ is one that comes to mind.
It is a great way to bring focus onto precious resources and allow them their moment in the Sun. However, make no mistake, the reason the company exists is for the customer. If there is no Revenue to be earned by selling products and services to clients for which they are willing to pay good money, what would be the reason for the company to keep working? To pay salaries to its employees? Honestly. No company has taken ownership for the everlasting prosperity of its employees. Fair and reasonable terms, yes. But no more.
For a business to make money, which is established as an inalienable truth, it needs to earn revenue. Where is the revenue going to come from? From customers. Hence, for any business, before anything else there is a customer, whose interest needs to be protected. Everyone in the company needs to understand who the customer is, as well as that part of her needs that are met by the products and services of your company. This needs to be constantly reiterated.
Having implemented over a hundred projects for clients from around the world, we are a trusted partner for most and are even given the responsibility of directly initiating new processes. We have built trusted relationships with several technology providers so that we can leverage the best technologies for client work. Our capability extends to over 22 languages which means our customers do not need to go hunting for new partners when they expand to new geographies.
Operation optimization needs transparent and fair employment practices
Since the dawn of the industrial age, many resources have emerged that seek to multiply power in order to either produce more, or consume less manpower, or both. In the present day, Artificial Intelligence (AI) threatens to make humans redundant by taking over all.
Despite all efforts, human beings continue to drive organizations and remain the most critical resource. Even for operating automated tools and programs, human beings are required.
It is important for a company to offer employment practices that are both fair and transparent. And they should be followed. There is no point in having a policy that says salary will be paid on the last working day of the month but in practice only paid out in the first week of the following month. While you may offer explanations for the same, nobody really cares for them. You have to keep up your end of the bargain.
Just like the company has choices, so do employees. They can choose to vote with their feet and walk out of the company and into the waiting arms of another. In a competitive world, there are many takers for good resources.
It is important to periodically refresh policies and procedures and ensure they reflect current times and expectations. As an example, paternity leave, unheard of perhaps just twenty years back, is now a common facility offered by many.
oWorkers has stayed away from the temptation of freelance and contract resources for client work and chosen the path of employment. While this places greater responsibility upon us, of compliance as well as employee development, it also provides greater satisfaction and flexibility. For example, if a client has a need for a short-term ramp, driven by seasonality or a new launch, we are able to cater to it. Being a preferred employer in the region, we also receive a steady flow of job applications through the year, keeping our hiring cost and effort low. Our employees have consistently rated us above 4.6 on a 5-point scale on Glassdoor.
Ear to the ground
The world keeps changing every moment and nobody is sure about the future. But all of us have educated guesses. Some of us might believe that AI will make humans redundant in the next 50 years while others may believe humans cannot be overtaken by AI. Some of us believe that jet-propelled solo flying will be the most common method of getting from one place to another while others may believe the pull of gravity will keep humans tethered to the Earth for the most part.
Whichever camp you are in, what is undisputed is that the future will arrive and that it will not be identical to today. Besides, except for the occasional ‘big bang’ event like an earthquake shaking up things or a volcano erupting, or, as we now know, a pandemic casting its shadow, most change is gradual. Almost glacial, though in hindsight it may appear otherwise. We may or may not have the ability to influence its direction, but, if we keep our ear to the ground, we will certainly be able to know well in advance which way it is headed and take suitable action as may be required.
While it is required to protect one’s Intellectual Property (IP), Copyrights, proprietary tools and technologies which give us advantage, for operation optimization we must also be open to participation at various levels so that we can both contribute to the change that is coming as well as understand it better by seeking out views of others who are in similar positions as us.
Most industries have associations that seek to promote the interest of the industry, there are cross-industry groupings for specific objectives, there are forums created by the government, all of them for the purpose of sharing and receiving information that might be relevant in navigating the path of our little business.
Services provided by oWorkers are at the cutting edge of technology. Much of the work we do is in data annotation and data labelling, that supports the development of AI models, as well as moderation of content on social media networks. A few years back these services did not even exist, but are the fastest growing today.
Leverage outsourcing for operation optimization
Outsourcing has emerged as a potential source for releasing significant locked value for a business. If not leveraging the outsourcing opportunity today, your company could become irrelevant soon.
No person or company can do all required tasks and activities all by themselves. We live in an interconnected world and the same is borne out in our business and personal dealings.
A car manufacturer does not manufacture many of the parts that go inside a car. It sources them from suppliers who are provided the specifications for the parts.
A software developer does not produce the computers its employees work on. It sources them for companies that make computers of suitable specifications.
At a personal level, we don’t grow the food we eat. We buy it from supermarkets that source it from farmers and agricultural communities. The beds and mattresses we sleep on are purchased from companies that make them. We don’t make them ourselves.
Hence, interdependence is a given. Outsourcing of activities that are not your company’s core competence, or which can be done better by another company, is the accepted method today. Thousands of startups are using outsourcing solutions to stay lean which enables them to invest in their core business.
Our leadership team comes with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry and are well placed to navigate the company through good and bad times. Our clients often talk about saving upto 80% of the pre-outsourcing cost when they outsource to oWorkers. With the help of a dedicated Quality team, you can expect operation optimization as an add-on service.