Operational Excellence (OpEx) and the benefits it can bring can be a mystery to some people. Whilst OpEx doesn’t have a universally agreed definition, the principles underpinning it are almost as well-known as some of the myths surrounding it. Here we aim to dispel some of those myths.

Myth 1: OpEx is only for manufacturing

It’s true that OpEx has been successfully implemented in manufacturing for many years, but significant benefits are also being realised in service sectors too. The wealth of data available in manufacturing industries certainly supports strong statistical analysis but most non-manufacturing organisations also have access to extensive operational data. For example, consider for your organisation the magnitude of daily hotel bookings, bank payments, insurance claims, student applications, call centre tickets, engineer repairs, or other volumes related to whatever service you offer, which all have operational processes that may have problems, opportunities, and lots of data which can yield great insights and potential for great results. One global bank we worked with achieved a 30% increase in capacity in Payments processing at the end of the their OpEx programme. 

Myth 2: OpEx is too hard to do

Operational Excellence uses systematic problem solving and continuous improvement approaches to transform how people work. Data analysis is just a very small part of the effort, it’s also about empowering and upskilling people using sometimes relatively straightforward tools such as effective capacity planning and absolute focus on the KPIs that drive customer value. The basics of operational excellence build on teams working on problems and opportunities that are aligned with efficiently and effectively delivering what the customer values in a consistent way.

Myth 3: OpEx is only for big organisations

Many of the OpEx successes that people hear about come from big organisations, but that’s only because they are more visible. The principles of Operational Excellence are versatile and work just as well for a small business of 20 as they do for one of many thousands. Afterall, the challenges around understanding customer value and aligning operations to efficiently, effectively, and consistently deliver are fundamentally the same.

Myth 4: We Don’t Have enough resources for OpEx

Unless an organisation can break out of thinking they are either too busy ‘doing the day job’ or too wrapped up in fighting fires to improve then they’ll always get what they always got. Implementing OpEx does require an investment in resources but when done properly can not only repay the investment many times in improved efficiency but also create a sustainable platform to improve competitiveness, improve customer service, and grow more profitably. Do you remember the cartoon of the cavemen working so hard to pull a cart with square wheels they were too busy to see the invention of a round one?!

Myth 5: We’ve already doing OpEx

If you already have good results, satisfied customers, and happy and engaged workers then understandably you may think you’re already there. You might be, at a point in time, but organisations need to be able to systematically apply OpEx principles over the long term to quickly solve problems, react to threats and opportunities as they arise, and involve workers positively in the improvement effort as business priorities change. What works today might not tomorrow, and OpEx totally supports a culture of continuous improvement.

Whatever operational excellence myths you’ve heard or where you are in your journey, we can help you understand the potential benefits and plan a way forward.