Your 4 Operational Sub-Systems: How to Automate them to Drive OpEx Sustainment

David Pate | November 3, 2017 | 

Time and again, companies put a lot of hard work into rolling out process improvements, only to see the gains slip away over time. Even if their intentions are the best, it can be hard to sustain operational excellence improvements without process rigor—and the technology to automate improvements and make them a seamless part of your everyday routine. One way to more successfully sustain your gains: Divide your operations into a four-part system. Then develop the discipline and deploy the technology to make each system as efficient and effective as possible for the long-term.

4 Operational Subsystems Drive Breakthrough Performance

Research by the National Center for the Middle Market and Dr. Peter Ward, a professor of operational management at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, reveals that most mid-sized and larger companies have a hard time making operational improvements stick. In some cases, it’s because of leadership turnover. Other times, it’s an inability to make use of performance data. (Read this post to learn more about specific issues that can derail operational improvements). Whatever the reason, failure to sustain gains long-term can undermine profitability and growth goals.

So, how can you flip the script and make your improvements last? The Center’s research recommends breaking operations into four subsystems: the Strategic Subsystem, the Daily Management Subsystem, the Problem-Solving Subsystem, and the People Development Subsystem. The Center proposes that by improving each of these subsystems individually and in concert, your organization will be in a much better position to sustain operational gains.

One way you can focus on bolstering your subsystems is to leverage Business Process Management software like the Dploy Solutions suite of operational excellence tools. Dploy works hand-in-hand with the TBM Management System to specifically address and understand what is happening within each of the four subsystems the Center identifies in its paper. The TBM Management System helps your organization to develop disciplined processes for improvement. Dploy delivers tools that provide the relevant data needed to keep each system on track with its goals. So, it’s much easier to stick with improvements long term, and ultimately boost productivity by 5 – 10%.

Here’s an overview of the Center’s four subsystems, and how Dploy Solutions, together with the TBM Management System, can help companies address each one:

Subsystem 1: The Strategic Subsystem

According to the Center’s research, most companies struggle to make their strategic vision relatable to the operations team. When the people responsible for doing the work don’t understand the primary purpose, it makes it much more difficult to deliver on the company’s overall objectives and mission.

With Dploy Solutions, you get visibility into data that helps drive corporate strategy down through all levels of the organization. It works by breaking down critical strategic goals into annual objectives with specific improvement priorities, measurable targets, and assigned owners. The software keeps everyone aligned around action plans and KPIs with clear visibility into progress. By visualizing long-term performance trends, Dploy Solutions helps leaders become more proactive: They understand where breaks exist in process and performance and what needs to change to get back on track and stay on track.

Subsystem 2: The Daily Management Subsystem

The Center’s research shows that many companies fail to use the fundamental elements of effective daily management, including visual controls, an accountability structure, and leader standard work. Without these processes, companies often don’t know if they’ve missed a critical goal until it’s too late to fix it. And that puts monthly, quarterly, or annual goals in jeopardy too.

Dploy Solutions KPI Management gives operational teams at all levels the tools they need to stay on track all day, every day. The software aggregates data from various systems for real-time performance reporting, and it makes that information usable and available to everyone. Teams know right away when a miss occurs so they can correct it in time to meet the day’s goal, and thus meet monthly, quarterly, and annual targets. Leaders can roll up the data to understand the specific locations or departments that are falling behind or succeeding, allowing opportunities to make strategic changes where needed.

Subsystem 3: The Problem-Solving Subsystem

All operations teams face roadblocks from time to time. But few companies have a systematic approach for dealing with those problems. According to the Center’s research, just one in five organizations strongly agrees that it has an established, go-to approach for addressing issues.

Problem-solving tools are built into the Dploy Solutions suite at all levels. Beyond identifying misses related to daily goals and KPIs, Dploy software delivers tools for root cause analysis and creating countermeasures. Dploy automates problem-solving tools like 5-why diagrams and A3 forms, allowing teams to work through issues and document how they will be solved. Teams get plans they can follow to correct issues and resolve them permanently. Everyone stays accountable, and your people don’t have to waste time addressing the same problems over and over.

Subsystem 4: The People Development Subsystem

The Center’s research shows that just 11% of mid-sized firms and 14% of larger companies strongly agree that all leaders in their organization receive training on how to coach. Without the ability to continually develop people, companies miss out on the opportunity to fully leverage one of their greatest assets.

Dploy Solution supports professional development by giving leaders a clear line of sight into business metrics to clearly understand where performance problems exist and why. It helps identify areas where people may need additional training. At the same time, by automating processes and giving people at all levels easy-to-use tools for resolving issues, Dploy helps team members build their own understanding of what’s happening in the business while advancing their individual problem-solving capabilities.

Put Your Data and Process to Work to Sustain Your Gains

The Center’s research makes the case for a clear, formalized approach to improving operational performance subsystem by subsystem. By using the Dploy Solutions suite of operational excellence tools in tandem with the TBM Management System, organizations can accelerate improvements in each area and automate processes, making it easier to sustain gains long team.

To learn more about the operational subsystems and how to improve them with process rigor and technology, download our eBook: “Sustaining Your Operations Powerhouse” today.

Management System: Sustaining Your Operations Powerhouse eBook


David Pate
David Pate

A skilled business leader with experience in both process and discrete manufacturing. Learn More About David Pate.