Shift focus to quality, not quantity

by 09 Jan 2012

recruitment%20(206%20x%2099).jpg" style="width: 206px; height: 99px; margin: 5px; float: left;" />In recent years, economic instability both offshore and closer to home has forced businesses to trim budgets and cut costs however possible. HR managers have often felt the biggest impacts of these decisions, as in the wake of the GFC, redundancies, downsizing and pay freezes became the norm.

But those businesses that are still tempted to use quick fixes and adopt blunt cost-cutting measures to swiftly preserve margins are being warned to take a long-term view.

Leaders who want long-term success need to shift their focus to quality of work, rather than quantity, to get the edge over their competitors, said Paul Walsh, Program Director for Lean Six Sigma at AGSM.

In light of this year’s economic outlook and Europe’s financial situation, Walsh said many companies “still in the short-term mindset need to revaluate how their businesses operate”.

“Through the financial turmoil of recent years, many companies rightly focused on easily identifiable cost-cutting measures to quickly preserve margins, but short-term measures may not provide durable gains in productivity,” he said.

He recommended long-term process methodology programs such as Lean Six Sigma, a synergised managerial concept that emerged in the early 2000s, to businesses that want to organically boost productivity levels.

These types of programs “address production, customer interface and process issues at their core”, he said, and enable organisations to become more productive and efficient.

“Now more than ever, businesses in Australia are seeking ways to improve their organisation’s productivity, but… in a time of instantaneous feedback and immediacy, taking on a long-term business change program to drive continued productivity growth can be daunting. Many companies still in the short-term mindset hope for a quick fix, but true organisational change is process,” he said.

Telecommunications giant Singtel Optus is one such business that recently took the leap. They were looking for a long-term business solution that would transform their customer experience, as executives realised that when things weren’t done right the first time round, money and time was being wasted on call centre staffing and resources.

In implementing a Lean Six Sigma program, the company shifted focus to tune in to the voice of the customer. By listening to their feedback and delivering on their needs, costs were naturally lowered for customer care.

Walsh offers the following tips for organisations that want to transform their operations and boost productivity:

Identify the problem
“You can’t train for the sake of training,” Walsh said. “Without a business issue to work on, there’s no call to action for implementation.”

Think about the bigger picture
The first phase of a Lean Six Sigma implementation takes an average twelve months, so businesses need to adopt a long-term view. “The first year of implementation is about building your staff’s capabilities and you can begin to see benefits in this area within the first month,” Walsh said. “Ultimately, the program chases business improvement which – to be measured – takes time.”

Strengthen your data analysis team
It is vital that you have the right systems and procedures in place to measure your sales and profits on a monthly basis, so you can identify weak spots and areas to improve upon. “Data analysis is the weakest area in many organisations, however measurement is essential to review your success,” Walsh said.

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