News & Views - Savantor

Excellence in Operations Management - a time for change

Monday, 15 September 2008

Commenting on the current banking crisis Bill Rhodes, Citibank chairman, believes that the worst could be yet to come, adding that "we are currently in the eye of the storm" and following Bank of America's rescue of Merrill Lynch and the bankruptcy application of Lehman Brothers few would argue with him.

Banks and other financial institutions have always had to think about their cost base, but this has been brought this into sharp focus in recent months. The pendulum has swung from a concentration on developing business streams to reducing the costs of business as usual. In truth this has happened on cyclical basis over the last 20 years or so but this time the wrench has been particularly brutal.

Most financial institutions have a range of efficiency initiatives going on at any one time, but they are often piecemeal and not end-to-end across processes. These will deliver cost savings but not to the full potential or in a way which is guaranteed to be sustainable. A number of branded approaches have been introduced to the industry including Six Sigma and Lean services which are often adapted from approaches developed initially by manufacturing companies and have now proved their worth in the service sector. However, they can be large scale and difficult to understand and implement requiring a lot of set-up and training costs.

Many organisations are coming to the conclusion that what is required is an approach which instils the basics of good operations at the front line. Even a brief look at a standard back office operation will reveal significant waste and inefficient working methods which have become entrenched. The way work is organised, good basic management at team leader level and resource planning can deliver cost reductions of up to 30%. This can be achieved without wholesale process re-design, large scare initiatives or investment in IT – in fact Excellence in Operations Management is an essential pre-requisite to a successful implementation of other plans. For this reason Savantor and its partner OEE have been working with clients to successfully implement EOM in a range of operations in financial services bringing about significant savings and process efficiencies.

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