The concept of “total quality management” traces its origins back almost 100 years. Historically associated with the manufacturing sector, TQM is based on the idea that the path to success in making good products is getting it right the first time.
Today’s economy, of course, is more service-based than factory-oriented. But the central notion of TQM still holds. Get it right the first time, and you’ll win the long-term loyalty of your customers – not by producing the best new widget, but in creating great experiences.
Therein lies a major source of opportunity for business process services companies.
Organizations have an ongoing and urgent need to stay focused on their core competencies. That’s due to the dizzying pace of change in technology. It’s very challenging to keep up, which means increasingly relying on new and different partners with specialties in crucial areas.The need is for partners who can provide and produce total process innovation that yields better end-to-end digital constituent experiences, speakers at SSOW stressed. “Outsourcing makes process innovation accessible,” said one of the keynote speakers at SSOW, the chief procurement officer at a bank in Silicon Valley.
One key element in the new model of outsourcing is utilizing the concept of shared services. Often, organizations are able to rely on partners who help manage support functions such as finance, HR, sales operations, legal, and IT. This goes for organizations of any size. “You are never too small to start a Shared Services Center,” the senior vice president of a company that supports independent restaurants in procurement.
The increasing use of robotics reflects another example of the different ways organizations are leaning on business process organizations for help. The senior director of HR shared services at a major pharmacy chain told a panel discussion that when the concept robotic process automation first emerged, many thought of it as applicable only to finance.
But it’s now apparent that RPA is applicable far more broadly – with human resources providing one great example, the director said. Organizations are using RPA in areas such as recruiting, payroll, scheduling and talent management. For instance, in one project, teams have used RPA to determine employee eligibility for the Family Medical Leave Act. That application relies on a series of logic-based “If/Then” questions.
Other processes identified for RPA implementation, this speaker said, said, include automation of accruals of paid time off, issuing leave of absence notices to managers, scheduling interviews with candidates and establishing accommodations for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While there are positives in the use of robotics, not all the impacts will be welcomed, said Martin Ford, a futurist, in his keynote to the conference.
There is growing evidence that companies are relying less on human capital. For instance, General Motors at its peak in 1979 had 840,000 workers generating and $11 billion economic impact; Google in 2012 employed 38,000 people with a $14 billion impact, Ford said.
“Machines are thinking, making decisions, solving problems,” he said.