This is an example of how a student might complete the class assignment. Once completed, we can share for discussion and feedback.
1) Using the principles and definitions learned in this class, what are some ways that your business could grow profitably using the following approaches? (give at least one example of each approach)
My business provides legal services and we spend a lot of time reviewing documents and data for approval at various layers of the organization. By automating the decision criteria, we could let more junior staff do the same quality reviews before sending to the client for a lower cost. We could also automate by using robotic process automation (RPA) to navigate and enter information into online government forms. This take junior staff a lot of time and is basic data entry. By automating this process, we could also save time and cost by leveraging robotics.
My business has a lot of overtime hours and is mostly people-driven. By assessing how much headcount is required to process certain kinds of transactions, I can strategically hire more headcount to manage current demand and reduce overburden. By hiring more staff at the right cost and experience level, I can begin to appropriately increase my business and scale.
2) Given your business context, which of these strategies would you choose if you could only implement one? Why?
Automation - there is a lot of opportunity to reduce time and cost within the current staffing model. I also suspect that it would reduce the cost of resources to an extent that we might not need to scale right now to meet the current demand. In other words, through automation, new capacity would open up as the cost of overtime and overprocessing was reduced or successfully outsourced to robotic or technological means.
3) Is there a way you might integrate both of these approaches to create a more holistic growth strategy?
Yes, by automating, and then expanding the optimized resources and technology, we could take on even more demand than we are currently processing and focus on sustainable growth strategies because the market is there - we are just struggling to keep up with demand at an appropriate service level. By understanding the difference between scaling and automation, I feel empowered to focus on automation first, and then scale the correct configuration once I reduce my cost.
4) Would either of these approaches NOT be a good fit for your business model? Why?
I think scaling might be a bad approach at this time without automation (or done out of order) because there is so much known waste in the operating model that if we were to scale it, we could handle more demand, but I don’t think it would translate to sustainable profitability and optimized growth.
5) What is an action step you can implement today to move your company towards profitable growth?
By analyzing my decisions as a high cost resources, I can start to document the logic to delegate it to a junior staff. If I can achieve that with low error and acceptable quality, I can start to open my time up for more value-adding tasks appropriate for my experience level.