Real-time management of incidents, risks and resourcing shortfalls is an essential part of any customer operation. That said, planning teams that are great at the earlier stages of the planning cycle, will reduce some of this ‘downstream work’, leaving you free to focus on what is genuinely out of your control. The danger is that our real-time or jeopardy teams are set up to work in the old way, so as your strategic planning improves, you need to re-optimise jeopardy management as well. The good news is that there is much best practice that can be applied across every kind of operation (see box) as well as some tricks that are specific to field, back office etc.
Get ahead of the curve
For all teams, visibility is paramount; you need to see what people are doing and compare it to plan. Open lines of communication are also key to success, both in to and out of the jeopardy management team, so you can give and receive information easily, clearly and effectively. Finally, the best teams are proactive, able to predict and pre-empt difficulties. The best in class teams from our standards benchmarks understand the impact and context of change in their business and the variances form the plan that these generate. As a result, they are now often able to automate key decisions and actions. For all teams, the playbook is key – a way of documenting agreed triggers, actions and escalations – so you know what to do and there is stakeholder trust and pre-authorisation. Our top tip is to automate as much as you can, especially if the human touch adds little extra value.
Changes in field planning
If a field worker is running late, teams typically speak to later customers, to advise or negotiate. All sectors face resource shortfalls, but other issues do vary by sector. In water, there can be complex logistical chains (road closures, gangs, equipment etc) and changes quickly escalate. For home visits (eg housing or security), people cancel or no-show. In all areas, the best teams, like at one telecoms company we visited, make proactive use of their time, to protect customer experience. Automation can transform comms (like delivery companies) and re-scheduling (with workforce management), so be clear what won’t change and what needs the human touch. Changes earlier in the planning cycle or operating model will also change what the team does, the way we set service expectations, manage skills or support remote diagnostics and support for instance.
In back office or processing operations, it is always key to pre-empt backlogs spiralling out of control and to have pre-agreed contingencies, for instance by blending work across skills or departments (front/back/specialists). Reporting in processing operations shouldn’t be focussed on the here and now but should be reporting on what is likely to happen next. It’s also vital to understand the impacts on process. If there is a delay in completing task X, how will it impact Y and Z. The jeopardy team needs to be able to model and communicate this impact effectively and proactively.
This article was first published in the 2020 Best Practice Guide - 2020 Vision: Crystallising your knowledge
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