“ACE” Your Business Operations!

Despite the fact that we never even met each other prior to 2014, Debbie and I discovered when we began working together that we have very similar business philosophies. It took us a while to clearly articulate them but we both knew pretty quickly when we met that we were on the same wavelength and that helped form the basis for a unique and special partnership ever since. 

The two key ingredients in Sage Squirrel’s “special sauce” are that we both believe firmly that compliance is the foundation for excellence, not actual excellence; and that it doesn’t matter how good your policies are if you can’t execute them effectively. This has morphed over time into our key principles:

  1. The need to go beyond compliance in all things, and
  2. The need to ensure that business operations are designed to ensure accuracy, consistency, and efficiency – what we call “ACE”. 

We’ve talked in this blog quite a bit about going beyond compliance so I thought I would do a little deeper dive into ACE. We have been talking a lot lately about quality improvement and performance management and ACE is foundational to doing both. And we assume that everyone wants their business operations to produce accurate and consistent results as efficiently as possible – that’s ACE.

When we talk about business operations, we are talking about the systemic combination of organizational structure, technology, and business process design that allows your agency or company to actually accomplish needed work. That work may be production of something, it may be the provision of services, assessments, or the processing of transactions such as enrollments or approvals of actions. Of course, this list is not exhaustive – it is meant to be illustrative of the fact that you may not always think that you have business operations but the reality is that all organizations actually DO something.  

I once carpooled with a gentleman who ran a small state agency. He was very resistant to the idea of performance or quality in his agency because, in his words, “Our job is to monitor (their) quality and compliance – we don’t perform anything”. Actually, his agency administered processes that were pretty similar in nature to those associated with nursing facility surveys. That type of monitoring activity is business operations just like producing widgets or processing applications is business operations. 

There is no one magic bullet that makes ACE happen. You can’t do it with technology alone; you may have a good form or other tool, but an overly bureaucratic process to get it completed; you may have high performing employees but an organizational structure that fosters impermeable silos rather than centers of excellence.  

We talked about this in one of our In a Nutshell briefs:  ACE is about more than just getting the task done. It is all about making sure it is the right task, done the right way, by the right person. That’s what can allow you to make the most of your resource and go beyond mere compliance in the pursuit of quality – that’s operational excellence. Some of the elements to achieving ACE include:

  • Get the right people in the right roles and equip them well with strong onboarding, training, and resources
  • Create accountability with well-defined expectations
  • Ensure business processes add value and are efficient and effective
  • Use technology as a tool to automate process elements wherever possible.

Over the next few weeks, we will come back and fill you in more on our thoughts on each element of ACE – accuracy, consistency, and efficiency. We would love to help you ACE your operations!  

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