PEX Week Awards Finalist: Pacific Life

Craig Sharp

The annual PEX Awards are just a few short weeks away, and with the finalists having been recently announced, we thought that now would be the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the projects that made it through to the final judging round!

The Awards, which take place at PEX Week Orlando in January, highlight some of the most ambitious, inventive and successful Process Excellence projects of the year. It’s our opportunity to celebrate the continued evolution of Process Excellence and the ingenuity of those who continue to push change forward.

This entry comes from Pacific Life, who have been shortlisted in the "Best Start Up Business Process Improvement Program (Under 2 Years)" category.

PEX Network: Tell us about your project, why did you launch it?

For over 146 years Pacific life has been a successfully company, but the life insurance industry is changing and to remain competitive companies need to continuously look for ways to be more efficient and effective. The Operational Excellence program for Pacific Life was launched to support the pursuit of becoming a high performance organization.

PEX Network: What were the key objectives? Did you have an end game in mind?

Key objective: Processes are constantly evaluated and improved with the goal of eliminating business process waste.

End game: Trusted and proven partnership with the business to create customer value and competitive advantage by continuously striving to decrease operational risk, lower operating costs, and increase productivity.

PEX Network: What were the key challenges you faced during the project? How did you overcome these?

Key challenge: Getting buy-in from the business.

To overcome the challenge we made it clear that the team was here to partner with the business not impose on the business. We were very flexible and patient with project timing and explaining the process. We also made sure that we applied a process improvement approach that was intuitive and involved very few tools. Most importantly we were very disciplined in scoping projects narrowly to ensure that projects were implemented within 3 months and that we can get quick wins and build momentum.

PEX Network: Did any unforeseen benefits come out of the project?

While we were focused on delivering value to the company we were pleased that the projects we worked on were able to give leadership opportunities to underappreciated and underutilized talent, which resulted in well deserved promotions.

PEX Network: What’s next? Is the project ongoing or are you looking to the next one?

The program is still ongoing and has a long way to go. We will continue to follow our plan and the maturity model we put together. Next year we are focused on delivering value in other areas in the division aside from Operations.

PEX Network: What does it mean to be selected as a finalist for a PEX Award?

Knowing that the program stood out across many companies globally is validation that we are on the right track. It also gives the team and the division a better appreciation of what the program has been able to accomplish in a short amount of time.

PEX Network: What would your message be to others who’re looking to begin a PEX project or who are unsure where to start?

To start a program, I would focus on one high profile project and deliver outstanding results to highlight the potential of process excellence. Once you have proven that it works I have no doubt you will be given the opportunity to do more and build a program.

I think the key is to start small and build from a solid foundation instead of trying to launch a program across the whole company. When we started in Pacific Life we focused on a key few areas in Operations and were successful, this has given us momentum to grow in other areas in 2015.