Last month, we were awarded one of Service Performance Index’s (SPI) "Best-of-the-Best" for 2016. We are grateful for such an award and we take great pride in how we run our company. Recognition like this is a reinforcement that we are on the right path. However, every award has its own unique bias. For instance, this one measured operational efficiency. It measured lots of similar firms on key operating metrics such as ongoing growth and revenue generation. While these measurements are important, they are hindsight measurements that are just one part of achieving consulting success. To achieve such an outcome, operating efficiency must also be combined with great customer outcomes and outstanding employee engagement.
How can we use the execution of our operating procedures to help us achieve such outcomes? Something that I’ve noticed over the years is that operating environments have a horrible tendency to want to focus on measuring the past more than they predict the future. For example, consider how project managers report on projects. Traditionally, a project manager will report on key metrics like earned value, budget variance, and scope variance. They will then assign the project a green, yellow or red status depending on those metrics. While this is a perfectly valid way to assess the health of a project, the entire process is looking at measuring the status of the project rather than keeping it on track. Hence, the executing of the project assessment doesn’t stop it from turning red, it merely identifies when it has already changed color.
We believe that an effective operating environment should focus on implementing the right strategy to stop a project from becoming red. A large part of our project reporting is spent measuring predictive project variables. We are not trying to identify if the project is green now, but if there is a strong likelihood that it will turn yellow or red in the future. If so, then proactive action needs to be taken.
We can think of this kind of operational approach as an equivalent to using data analytics, but instead we are using expert heuristics. If an expert project manager knows that it’s good project hygiene to have key stakeholder reviews, then why don’t we escalate the minute one gets missed? Such a proactive reaction would occur while the project is still green and might hopefully avoid the project ever turning red.
While this is just one example, our experience at CirrusOne is teaching us that there is a myriad of applications for this kind of thinking within our business. By changing our procedures accordingly, our operational execution measures our performance and also strategically predicts where we should spend our time in order to achieve our goals. This approach helps us bring operational efficiency, customer success, and employee engagement into closer alignment with each other. Our operational execution now drives proactive planning to change the future. Instead of having to ‘eat’ it, execution can now ‘meet’ strategy for breakfast.