The Tanfeeth Mindset: a Leadership Series

Kazim Jessa, Tanfeeth Chief Voice Operations Officer discusses the importance of organizational rigor and its impact on performance and productivity.


Companies have a range of processes that are defined to the nth level of detail and systems that help navigate thru the step-by-step action and of course, trained staff who know exactly how this works.

Only if things were that simple.

While complexities arise from every aspect of running operations, many of these can be managed and having operational rigor is the key differentiator.

Let's start by defining rigor in the operations context. It is basically bringing in thoroughness, attention, strictness in your daily accomplishments - if something is an important contributor to the success of our business then it must be done with nothing short of brilliance.

An example of this could be tracking every step of an assembly line for quality of output, accuracy, time and conformity to process flow.

The next element is putting standards for each of these and not letting any dip go by without intervention and correction.

That's operational rigor in a nutshell.

Car manufacturers across the globe have adopted this and given it different names and BPOs too have imbibed a culture of operational rigor as means to drive efficiency and savings.

In the banking space, onboarding of a customer is a good example of how rigor in capturing the right information without any errors at the onset can save thousands of dollars on subsequent pain points mushrooming for both the customer and the organization.

While the ultimate goal could be going digital and looking for self-serve avenues, operational rigor in this instance could involve double check and verification at a process level; real time monitoring and analytics to support; system validation and escalation coming from workflow technologies; skill assessment & evaluation of capabilities at hiring stage; and rewards and consequences mapped to failure rates for the operations staff. Benchmarking and subsequently tracking metrics within small intervals is half the job and having low levels of tolerance on continuing with known defects is the other half of transforming operations.

But despite these obvious examples, this phenomenon remains difficult to achieve for many organizations.

And the reason for that is quite simply the organization priorities. Companies do not want to focus on something that perceivably does not fetch much value. They perceive value coming from better products, smarter pricing, wider network, cheaper procurement, sales workforce etc. but operations being the mover for bottom line is lost on most organizations.

Also, the effort is not meagre. To create an organization tuned towards operational rigor requires culture of the larger organization supporting such endeavors. It requires obsession with dealing with break downs, error rates, rejections, discrepancies as mission critical factors to improve and minimize.

Operational rigor can, however, solve for problems much beyond the day's outcomes. It will bring home the colossal waste that you might be living with and more importantly, it could bring down customer complaints emanating from failures and sub-optimal output. What could get resolved by virtue of additional attention to detail could make subsequent journeys for any organizations and its customer that much smoother.

Any organization which stays on this plan will reap the benefits of lower customer churn, lesser proportion of service teams engaged in taking corrective measures and cost-to-serve for existing customers remaining absolutely negligible.

I would also like to briefly ponder on making this obsession of the small parts work at floor level without stressing the workforce out. That requires a push for making the positives as the essence of all communication instead of negative outcomes. Repetitive work and potentially long hours are a recipe for omissions. Bring on the incentive plan, the recognition programs, the appreciation mails and the calling out of top performers as the driving force behind achieving this rigor.

Happy metrics, if there is indeed such a term!

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