From Tactical To Strategic: Business Process Automation To Plug Talent Gap
Auckland, Monday 28 February 2022 - Quanton, the New Zealand business process automation and operational excellence provider, has recognised with talent shortages continuing to plague New Zealand businesses, there’s an increasing move to automation – and away from simple tactical projects to strategic work. It has launched its Operational Excellence Consulting and Business Process Management Services, aiming to help Kiwi businesses elevate their approach to business process management from a tactical to strategic level to achieve transformative outcomes.
The launch coincides with the appointment of Ravi Kulatunga as Operational Excellence and Business Advisory Practice Lead. Kulatunga brings with him extensive experience in Lean, Six Sigma and Operational Excellence and technology, and has worked with a range of high-profile New Zealand businesses.
Garry Green, Quanton Managing Director and Founder, says Ravi will be a force multiplier for Quanton’s customers when it comes to extending the value of automation.
“Ravi and the Operational Excellence Consulting and Business Process Management Services team will help business transform the way they operate.
“When you link automation with value stream mapping and Lean techniques and tools, it really does take the benefits of automation to the next level and provides a five to 10 times multiple in benefits.”
Green says a smart approach to automation, and looking at what you’re doing in your business and how you could be doing it, can also bridge the current talent gaps, which have been exacerbated by ongoing restrictions on bringing in overseas skills and labour.
“Right now, businesses need that shift in productivity, they need a quantum leap as there are not enough people in New Zealand to fill employment needs. People are hunting for talent and can’t find it, so they need that increase in capability,” Green says.
The new practice, which already has Mercury as a cornerstone customer, uses proven methodologies including Lean, Six Sigma, Operational Excellence and Kaizen to help businesses optimise operational activities using process improvement, re-engineering and/or automation.
It aims to address a key problem Quanton has seen in its 6 years of operation: The potential scope and scale of benefits from business process automation programmes are often trapped at a tactical level.
“Transformative capabilities like business process automation, operational excellence or process improvement are for many organisations very different with organisations unable to bring the streams together,” Green says.
“Quanton’s Operational Excellence Consulting and Business Process Management Services will help businesses align the efforts of all their transformation capabilities together to ensure activities are optimised using the most effective lever like process re-engineering or automation, aligning changes to transformative outcomes and linking benefits to strategic levers.”
Ironically, talent shortages is something Quanton – which is on track to log 20-30 percent growth this year – has had to deal with itself.
“The senior level talent just isn’t out there or affordable at the moment, so we’ve brought on talent with the right attitude and base skills, trained and mentored them. Importantly they are immersed in a culture where they feel safe and there is a framework around them that helps them grow and learn rapidly,” Green says.
“But equally, we’re also supporting this through leveraging technology a lot and using a combination of offshore resources as well to augment the team.”
Finding new ways of working
Green says Quanton’s DNA has always been about helping businesses with new ways of working, helping customers bring people, processes, management systems and technology into alignment and wrapping it all together with data.
The new practice extends that philosophy.
“Business often look at automation and think of the benefits they can get in terms of a mundane task being done by a bot, or bots linking systems, and how it can save them an hour here and there.
“That’s a one-on-one relationship. It’s very tactical. Which is great because it solves an immediate problem. But when we start to bring in the operational excellence aspect, we look at value stream mapping, the whole end-to-end journey of the customer and staff and we start to make it a much more sophisticated offering.
“Rather than being a one-to-one benefit of saving an hour here and there, by being smarter in how you do it, you can start to scale and get productivity gains and get five or 10 hours back because you’re redesigning things, taking a more wholistic approach and getting that next level of benefit.”
It’s an approach Green says can help give businesses time to work on the business - rather than merely in the business and can assist with talent issues.
“If you can step back and look at how to do things smarter, you might be able to see, for example, how you can get 10 times the throughput for the same number of people, using automation, or how you can get 10 times the service delivery using the same number of people and automation, rather than putting in 10 times more people.”
Green says the new practice brings together a combination of consultant advisory and automation to help businesses plug the talent gap.
Moving BPA into the transformative slipstream
Kulatunga has previously worked with over ninety different companies including BNZ, Vector and Sky TV New Zealand and as business improvement manager for Neptune Pacific Line implementing a Lean programme across the Pacific.
He says the new practice is recruiting a team with operational improvement backgrounds who will work with customers to assist them in the move from tactical to strategic transformation.
“We want to move the BPA into the transformative slipstream of organisations, so rather than just tactically doing it, they are doing it at a strategic level.
“It’s not just about releasing capacity but about aligning to strategic corporate benefits and goals.”
With that in mind the practice looks at re-engineering and optimisation of processes, as well as the potential of automation.
“We always say before you consider automating something it is best to ensure you have done the process improvements and optimisation, rather than just automating a broken process. Automation in isolation is not a long-term solution,” Kulatunga says.
“We’re talking about cultural change and change management, so it is more transformative, and the benefits are aligned to things like the customer, to staff, not just about removing an operational bottleneck if you like. It’s not just about solving today’s problem, but it’s also about building a culture and capability to solve tomorrow’s problems as well.”
The Operational Excellence and Business Advisory practice will also be harnessing the Abbyy Timeline process intelligence platform.
“Timeline provides process mining and validates the processes customers are using. It tells us what the happy state is so that before we automate it, we can get it into a form that is standard, as automating a non-standard process can be very costly and expensive because you will get bots throwing out huge numbers of exceptions or you’ll be forcing a process that may not be optimised,” Kulatunga says.
“Ravi has a wealth of experience and talent,” Green says. “He really brings out the best in people and teams, and helps teams see not only how they can improve their business, but the new ways of working that will help them. And he does it in a non-confrontational way.
“Having seen Ravi at work, I know he’s got a great way of getting people on side and buying into the vision.”
Quanton transforms business operating models to a new, future-focused way of working by helping build capability and find the sweet spots where automation can have the biggest impact on a business – with quantifiable benefit.
Quanton is led by its advisory services, and a specialised range of emerging automation and AI technologies, helping organisations simplify automation. Aligning digital transformation with their vision and strategy and connecting activity to the realisation of business goals.