Posted by Lionel Sweeny
Org charts are familiar architecture to most companies, providing role definition and function accountability. But often the greatest areas for process improvement are those neglected gaps between departments, otherwise identified as the “white space.” Improving Performance, How to Manage the White Space on the Organization Chart, by Geary A. Rummler and Alan P. Brache, is an approach to bridging the gap between organization strategy and the individual, for sustained performance improvement. Here HGS Human Resources Vice President Lionel Sweeny shares his own view of the importance of this concept: connecting gaps to improve business processes and performance.
What are “white spaces,” as defined by Rummler and Brache?
With the traditional business model, there are verticals that create gaps in work processes, and ultimately, performance. These white spaces are more identifiable with a horizontal, organizational view of the organization. And a department like HR has one of the best views of communication or performance gaps. With an approach across verticals, HR can change companies from the ground up, sourcing and directing talent to manage across, to eliminate silos. HR can also optimize performance with staffing that addresses any gaps, as well as inconsistencies and lack of standardization.
What are some organization-wide performance-improving strategies?
According to Rummler and Brache, the Three Levels approach addresses the Organization, Process, and Performer perspectives. At all of these levels, there should be:
- Goals for strategy and performance improvement
- Design of roles so they can achieve the goals
- Management of resources, performance, and environment
Today, we have next-generation technology and tools to drive process improvement at these different levels. CRM solutions like Salesforce establish better visibility into and sharing of customer information, with a 360-degree view that enables our team members to work from the same page, across departments like Sales and Marketing. This alignment of goals, design, and management enables sharing of information and makes it easier to communicate about changes, accounts, and opportunities.
What are real-world applications of these approaches to working around performance gaps?
Here’s an example of this in practice: Our U.S. division recently created an HR Center of Excellence (COE). This center serves as a hub that brings together three essential HR functions: Recruiting and Talent Management; Shared Services, comprising such function as payroll and benefits; and In-Business HR, those team members who sit in businesses and are aligned to performance management. According to this COE model, our staff members within each function report to the same director. This director doesn’t sit at one site, he or she is across geos.
Our COE ensures that we share and employ best practices, communicating customer experiences and sharing resources. And we better manage our customers across these silos, because we seamlessly align offshore and onshore resources, and it holds us accountable in our objectives and, ultimately, deliverables. While this has only been officially launched in February, we have already seen significant results in areas like reduced time to hire. And we know the COE ultimately drives improved employee retention and performance, as well.
How can external partnerships help remedy and strengthen internal collaboration?
BPMs drive the articulation of value, making it possible to eliminate process and performance gaps. Our HR Center of Excellence is just one way we, as a BPO service provider, create connected space for our clients. On a daily basis, we assess and analyze our clients’ processes to determine how to optimize work and consumer experiences—for example, transforming 20 steps into a 15-step process. For a healthcare company, we have deployed Robotic Process Automation solutions to reduce an 8-hour process into a 14-minute process requiring only a couple clicks.
Through our Business Excellence framework we address white space gaps with knowledge sharing. At HGS we work toward building and establishing standardized processes, uniformity of tools and methodologies, and continual improvement. Optimized processes enable us to help our clients surpass minimum defined benchmarks and achieve maximum performance. HGS solutions like our AIM (All Ideas Matter), based on Kaizen principles and employing Six Sigma, and our SPARK (Sharing Practices and Replicating Knowledge), share knowledge and best practices across all of our locations. As a result, on a worldwide scale, we are raising the bar on process improvement and closing the gap in white spaces.