Getting the Process Excellence Basics Right to Ensure Successful Delivery, Return on Objectives and Value Creation: An Interview with Kirsteen Caldow of Standard Life Investments
Kirsteen Caldow, director of the Process Transformation Team at Standard Life Investments, speaks with Six Sigma & Process Excellence IQ to discuss how process excellence has become fully integrated within her organization and to share the major lessons learned along the way.
Interview by Helen Winsor.
Can you tell us a bit about how process excellence fits into the culture at Standard Life Investments?
Standard Life Investments has had process embedded in its culture since the investment house was founded in 1998; however, the true value of process was still to be optimized at that stage. To embed process excellence, the Process Transformation program was designed, developed and implemented. This has driven the culture of continuous improvement.
The program was designed to support the achievement of Standard Life Investments’ strategic objectives and was in response to a requirement to re-energize, refocus and invest further in its continuous improvement capability and deliver operational excellence. This was evident through analysis that the core processes were complex, not as tightly defined as they should be, costly to maintain and operate, underperforming and had suffered several control failures resulting in cost of poor quality, as evident in examples such as Pension Sterling Fund.
The framework that was designed and the roadmap built was to deliver the following:
- To build a process architecture that allows Standard Life Investments to define and map its current processes;
- To improve process performance and support the delivery of operational excellence;
- To ensure processes are cost and resource efficient, effective and deliver what the customers value;
- To tighten controls and reduce risk across the group;
- To design end-to-end processes that are aligned to the future state process architecture;
- To engage its people in seeking opportunities to continuously improve every aspect of the operation; and
- To deliver real value for its customers.
As a result of this, the Process Transformation Team (PTT) developed its proposition within Standard Life Investments in 2009 in response to this need. The vision mapped to the following build:
- To design and develop the process architecture;
- To develop a consistent improvement methodology;
- To develop continuous improvement capability;
- To support Business Process Management; and
- To deliver customer value and business benefits.
The PTT service proposition implemented this into three key services:
- Process architecture — providing a transparent end-to-end understanding of processes that cut across the organization, optimizing the value chain through control, governance and process improvement, allowing an understanding of the inputs, outputs and hand-offs that drive controls that minimize risk across the end-to-end architecture.
- Process capability (management) — providing process capability at the heart of business process ownership to ensure collaboration and accountability in pursuit of core and common processes that consistently deliver value to the customers and shareholders. Supporting process owners to manage their processes to operate in line with customer expectations and to modify operational performance to respond to strategic demands.
- Process improvement — delivering and driving clear value add business benefits through improving processes using Workout, Lean and Six Sigma methodology.
This is the driver that is shifting the culture on the journey to process excellence and moreover operational excellence.
What would you say are the three must-dos for any process leader when designing a new process excellence program?
The prerequisite is the mandate to initiate the program. Strong leadership is key. Following this, it is essential to understand your process architecture in order for you to understand how your business is operating against its objectives and customer requirements.
Once you have that view, you can identify the processes that are critical to success in order for the business to meet its objectives and customer requirements.
Secondly, a clear capability model has to be embedded in order that process capability can be established. This capability will be horizontal and vertical, delivering process ownership and management for those accountable and tools and training to the business to drive the culture though key individuals, bottom up.
Thirdly, improve. Show them through the processes you have identified and the people with the capability how you drive improvement. Publicize your benefits and continue. It’s a journey.
What key considerations do you make when choosing technology solutions — and what kind of technology solutions have you seen deliver the most traction for your programs?
Firstly, technology supports the process. The process must be optimal before the technology compliments and enhances how Standard Life Investments manages and meets the customer requirements. The technology design should always be based on the customer requirements.
Secondly, the best traction and technology enabler has been leveraging Standard Life Investments’ mapping tool to build its enterprise architecture roadmap. This has ensured development has been consistent, globally, at cost, while meeting the customer and business needs.
And what have been the main barriers that you have had to overcome (e.g., people, technology, budget, complexity, resistance to change)?
The greatest challenge and gift is people. Their resistance to change and ability to embed change will be the barrier or benefit. The next challenge is the mandate. As an organization changes and ultimately restructures, the strength of the mandate can change dependant on the sponsor.
What does success look like for Standard Life Investments in process excellence?
Continued and active sponsorship is visible. The architecture has a multidimensional global view of how the business operates. This view is integrated into the operational risk model that crosses the global boundaries.
Process ownership is embedded into end-to-end process management and measurement framework. The capability talent manages and supports continuous improvement and process transformation. The model is cyclical with standards attached to achieve and attain. The transformation program drives and delivers results that meet the customer requirements and business objectives. Effective process design principles are embedded in all change activity. Standard Life Investments continues to innovate, design and simplify process in a world of complexity.