Operations & IT Assessment

Business improvement begins with assessment of the current state. A solid understanding of how core operational processes are actually functioning within the business is necessary before any change that will make a difference can be designed.

Current State Assessment

PPI's Current State Assessment services are always tailored to the client's program objectives. The assessment is generally comprised of three components, but client circumstances can dictate variations:

1. CSA Program Design
This stage delineates the program objectives, governing and scoping of the project. It addresses the questions, What are the core objectives of your program, and When do you want to accomplish them by?

Different clients have different needs. Some typical objectives are to improve:
  • Productivity of key business processes
  • Utilization of appropriate Performance Metrics
  • Effectiveness of resource allocations
  • Synergy between core processes and organizational goals
  • Ability of IT to enable operational efficiencies
  • Operational ability to deliver more customer value
  • Efficiency of inter-departmental hand-offs

2. Operational Analysis and Process Review
Once the objectives of the program are established and its focus is clear, it is necessary to select the core business operations and processes to assess.

Main considerations include:
  • Program design
  • Scale and timing
  • Functional prioritization
  • IT dependency
For each selected process, PPI consultants will develop analyses that capture how the business is currently working. Operational workflow (OW) development gathers information on process performance, activity-based productivity and procedural dependencies. OW development utilizes best practices in:
  • Information gathering approaches
  • Leveraging client documentation
  • Collective PPI expertise

3. Re-engineering Analysis
After the current state of the process has been identified, operational analysis seeks to identify reengineering improvement opportunities.

This approach typically examines various stages of the workflows, procedures and IT utilization that have been developed in comparison to:
  • Productivity measures
  • Performance metrics
  • Organizational competencies
  • Process costs
  • Program objectives
  • Best practice comparisons

4. IT Analysis
IT improvements are essential to achieving profitable growth. To make them pay off, a company needs to focus on more than just technology - the improvement has to be felt in the business results. And this means joining IT closely with End-User operational processes. This prerequisite is essential to an organizations' ability to:

  • Enhance operating efficiency
  • Improve consumer interfaces and services
  • Assess data risks
  • Maximize intellectual capital
Some of the key aspects that typically benefit from close examination include:
  • Strategic Systems Plan
    • Linkages between the organization's IT strategy and its business plan
    • The role of information in driving the business in general and in the functional areas being examined
    • Moving from strategic objectives to IT objectives
    • Operating Model - the effectiveness of business integration & standardization employed

  • IT Governance & SLA's
    • Organization and approach
    • Management processes over project selection and approach
    • Risk Assessment Protocols

  • Distribution of the current IT Portfolio and its impact on the areas under review
Certain IT-User challenges seem to be recurring in nature. Examples of some of the more pressing confrontations and the elements used by PPI in helping clients increase their ROI on IT include:

Prioritizing IT Projects - Maximizing limited resources
  • Develop an effective methodology for prioritizing IT projects
  • Produce an IT framework or "blueprint"
  • Develop formal process steps, timelines and SLA's for the prioritization process
  • Navigate politics and sensitivities when prioritizing limited IT resources
Aligning IT with Operations - Business changes constantly tax IT-user alignment
  • Assess current processes for meshing user requirements with IT resource allocations
  • Mesh alignment processes with IT Governance and strategic practices
  • Produce Alignment metrics to help enforce new practices
Additional Barriers to Successfully Leveraging IT Investments - IT maturity, speed, constant change and performance management
  • Comparing & contrasting user and customer IT requests
  • Identifying gaps with IT Acquisition Integration
  • Enhancing information visibility
  • Implementing activity-based performance metrics
  • Assessing data silos that service individual corporate functions
Instituting Service Level Agreements - is silo compliance really adequate?
  • Compare & contrast critical User and IT requirements
  • Formalize dependencies, commitments and processes for developing the SLA's
  • Institute practical processes to engage interdepartmental compliance
  • Develop meaningful metrics to measure compliance & effectiveness
Monitoring and controlling IT implementations and activities - End-users need to be engaged but not dominating
  • Analyze gaps in the current IT governance methodology
  • Determine decision-making protocols
  • Utilize Measure and Control Plans to increase accountability & ROI

4. Performance Metric Evaluation
Evaluating and improving performance measurements are essential ingredients of most operational assessments and transformation engagements.

  • Metrics are a vital tool to drive behavior and results.
  • Addressing several types of metrics enhances the ability of the organization to measure operations and behaviors and is a key element of sustainable operational improvement.
  • To drive the proper behavior, reactive metrics alone are insufficient.
Classifying Metrics helps focus the analysis and increase client understanding
What is being measured?
  • Process Metrics - Inputs & outputs, cycle time, defects, etc.
  • Financial Metrics - Include revenue, costs, other items with bottom line impact.
  • Behavioral Metrics - Employees actions & attitudes, agent scorecards, customer surveys.

What do the metrics focus on?
  • Reactive vs proactive
  • Tactical vs strategic
Do your metrics measure up?
Typical gotchas include:
  • Metrics are not grass roots enough - the high-level perspective does not show where processes are effective or problematic.
  • Metrics are not actionable - they lack causality & accountability, do not link to behaviors.
  • Too many metrics - data overload can create and disguise an information famine.
  • Too many lagging indicators, not enough leading ones - it's important to know what has happened in the past, but you also need to be able to spot problems and opportunities before they arrive.
Developing new and revised Performance Metrics is a valuable tool to increase accountability & results
  • There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Metrics should support the organizational strategy and enable effective decision-making.

Service Modules & Focused Projects

For clients who have very specific assessment needs, PPI provides focused assessment services to analyze processes, capabilities and opportunities in the specific areas of interest.

These areas include:
  • Operational Audit
  • Support/Service Models Review
  • Operational Risk Assessment
  • Outsourcing Feasibility Study
  • Acquisition Integration Readiness
  • IT Integration Assistance
  • Standard Operating Procedure Assessment
  • Staffing Utilization Appraisal
  • Customer SLA Compliance
  • Business Requirements & Rules Assessment
  • Workflow Documentation Creation
Desired State Assessment

Based on the results of the Current State Assessment, it is practical to gauge the possibilities of short and/or long-term improvements that address the weaknesses or opportunities that have been identified in the current process. The Desired State Assessment consists of the design and prioritization of practical operational improvements.

The Desired State, once designed, becomes the goal that the implementation phase of the project is driving toward.

The Desired State Assessment is intertwined with the implementation of actual improvements, as described in the Improvement Implementation section.


Deliverables are presented while the work is being performed and at engagement conclusion. The work results are communicated as the work is performed to help ensure timely information, rapid progress, noteworthy findings, expectation alignment and timely completion.

Typical engagement deliverables include:
  • Observations and Findings
  • Recommendations for improvement
  • Operational analyses and workflows
  • Risk Matrix
  • Performance Metric Evaluation
  • Improvement Implementation Plan
  • Desired State Design & Implementation Success Factors
  • Project Plans
  • Status Reports
  • Flash Reports and Heat Maps
CSA Sample Findings

Some sample findings from CSA's performed by PPI include:

  • Significant number of resources are engaged in non-standard processing
  • Current structure of batch processes causes material delays in processing
  • Metrics and management processes are not driving the right behaviors
  • Current operating structure is insufficient to support effective scalability
  • Weak linkages exist between strategic objectives and departmental priorities
  • Core IT systems are out of sync with key operating processes
  • Process checks & balances are based on quality control and not quality assurance
  • Numerous manual processes are largely aimed at moving documents not information
  • Processing is based on a people-capacity model not a technology-capacity model
  • Job roles are defined by an individual's characteristics rather than by formal job descriptions