We don’t need an accurate document, we need a shared understanding. – Jeff Patton, Product management, Agile, Lean, UX and product design expert.
Service companies are constantly readjusting their work culture to serve the best interests of their clients. Many of the clients constitute companies from Silicon Valley, if not predominantly so. Now, there are several aspects that make up a company’s work ecosystem. A certain like-minded approach is followed by companies to go with Silicon Valley sensibilities.
Processes and workflows are an integral part of a service company’s working. For example, seeking out efficient ways to save time on each process that they translate into bigger gains for the customer, is a continuous task. It is essential that service companies chart out the entire project work process. That the client is aware of the same and agrees to it, is as crucial too.
Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things. – Theodore Levitt, Late American economist and professor, Harvard Business School.
Innovation, in many ways, is a state of mind. Though referred collectively as a word – innovation, springs from an individual mind. That is why service companies ensure that their employees are open-minded to express their ideas, while keeping an open mind when listening to similar views. That is why certain companies organize weekly ‘Out of the Box’ sessions, where employees get a platform to put forward their ideas in complete detail. The viability of the idea is discussed and if found feasible, a process is charted out to implement the same.
All we are doing is looking at the timeline from the moment a customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing that timeline by removing the nonvalue-added wastes. – Taiichi Ohno, Toyota production system pioneer, Lean originator.
There are many methodologies that add to the work process like DevOps Sevices. A service companies are not lagging behind in adapting them, as and when the project demands their use. Agile is among the popular methodologies used. The work is assigned with a gradual increase in responsibilities and tasks. A clear-cut structure is provided as to what role each team-member will play, how meetings are to be held, what purpose is to be achieved, etc. Rules are also laid down, each team is to follow the set structure. Other work methodologies that companies implement include Lean and Kanban. The former has helped service companies to do away with all waste-inducing activities, while setting up a pro-learning environment. The latter ensures that the project doesn’t end up in chaos, involved teams gain knowledge about their present task and the exact order of how further tasks are to be completed.
Project Responsibility vs Individuals
All business depends upon men fulfilling their responsibilities. – Mahatma Gandhi.
Service companies are big on individual accountability. For instance, when a project involves the creation of a product, each involved person is a key to the product development lifecycle process. Product companies employ techniques like the responsibility matrix, where: 1. Key activities of the project are listed. 2. Name of every project member involved is given, so that individual responsibility can be defined. 3. The matrix is then coded such that individual roles, involvement level, approval and authority levels are clearly defined.
At the same time, it is ensured that there are ample trained resources available on the floor to replace present resources, if the need arises. This ensures that any project member can be replaced by other equally skilled resources, at a short notice, without affecting the project sequence.
Hiring the Right People
If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it, you almost don’t have to manage them. – Jack Welch, Former Chairman & CEO, General Electric.
A strict, process-bound hiring process is followed by service companies. Right from inviting applicants, shortlisting candidates for interviews, creating customized tests for each job opening, making the final list and finally offering the job, much thought and detailing goes into the whole cycle. Workflows are applied to sort out candidates based on certain evaluated characteristics and an algorithm. If there are no suitable candidates found post the interviews, the workflow returns to its initial steps. It is thus ensured that only candidates who love doing what they do, if their passion is in line with what the company requires out of them, are recruited.
Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own. – Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.
The culture of putting the product through planning, risk analysis, gathering project requirements, identifying risks, product testing and final evaluation, companies are striving to set up a parallel, distinctive culture. Documentation of every applied process, so that errors are identified and eradicated on a long-term basis, are only a hint of the practices that companies that develop products indulge in.
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer & poet.
The business industry is a fast-changing terrain with new processes, technologies, applications and softwares constantly making work a more efficient and quality experience. Employees thus need to be in constant touch with any development that will add to their productivity and their careers. It is with these factors in mind that service & product companies organize regular knowledge sharing sessions. The employees are thus constantly part of discussions, meetings, seminars and annual conferences to keep in touch with the latest in their respective fields. Such sessions are counter-productive for the employee, company and the client.
Performance Review & Management
Selecting the right people with potential to excel and then developing those people through the coaching and mentoring process to achieve greatness is a primary responsibility of leadership. Effective leaders know precisely when to coach, when to mentor, and when to manage. – Dr. Rick Johnson, founder, CEO Strategist, LLC.
A periodic review of every employee’s performance is conducted not merely to discuss the possibility of monetary increment. It is also a parameter to check if the employee is well-trained and skilled enough with the latest developments in their field. If found lacking, adequate training is provided to fill in these gaps. On the other hand, exceptional work is recognized and rewarded. Companies thus ensure that when a critical project is at hand, the resources at hand are motivated and well- equipped to handle it.
Bringing in Automation
The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. – Bill Gates, Co-Founder, Microsoft.
A service or a product company, for that matter, always has in its strength-force, experienced managers, designers, programmers, etc who form the core of its product-creation team. Lately, the stress is on bringing in automation to every process, with the aim to reduce production time, while more functions are handled. Less manual tasks would also mean decrease in operating costs. In a complex procedure like product design and creation, automation as a process is already playing a key part, while delivering top quality products.
These are among the key aspects that service and product companies focus on to deliver excellent solutions to Silicon Valley innovators or any other client, for that matter.