Striving for operational excellence

Over the last few years the market has witnessed an increasing demand for Operational Excellence programmes within financial services institutions. Mike Bennett explores what OE is all about and the trends we’re currently seeing in the recruitment market.

As part of this month’s campaign we’ll be looking at the C&S team’s main areas of focus, and how understanding the industry helps us source the best candidates for our clients. Today I’m discussing the world of Operational Excellence consulting: what is it all about, and what trends are we seeing in the recruitment market?

What is operational excellence?

Striving for operational excellenceOperational Excellence (OE) could be best described as a mantra; a way of thinking. If your company has a process, why not make it an excellent process? Simplicity and efficiency are the name of the game, and the winner usually ends up with lower risks and costs; so it stands to reason that any big company, no matter their industry, would want to adopt the philosophy. In some cases, particularly in highly competitive markets, it may be necessary to implement Operational Excellence programmes if you plan to keep up with those around you.

Most professional services firms are heavily plugged into OE, and will offer a variety of services tailored to their clients’ needs. For example, an oil major may want to review the efficiency of their site operations in a bid to fend off costs associated with the increasingly complex industry; the solution may well lie with a focused transformation programme over the course of a few months, conducted by a consultancy. It may cost the oil company a few million in the short term, but with the right execution and maintenance, may save them significantly more.

What changes are we seeing within OE?

Ever since the financial crisis and ensuing regulatory changes in Europe and the US, the market has witnessed an increasing demand for OE programmes within financial services (FS) institutions. The banks, in particular, face challenging and complex economic conditions, and OE can be seen as a strategic approach to this situation, rather than just battling through without changing how the company works.

As expected, professional services firms are conducting more OE projects for FS clients because of the crisis, which has the knock-on effect of increasing demand for OE consultants with relevant FS experience.

What does this mean for our clients and candidates?

This is something we have witnessed at Grovelands first hand; many of our consulting clients are looking to add OE specialists to their ranks at all levels of seniority, to service the project requests by banks, insurers and other financial institutions. This makes for a particularly buoyant recruitment market, with professionals moving between consulting organisations, as well as moving back into consultancies after a few years in-house.

On the junior end of the scale, we’re seeing consultants being given the chance to specialise in more niche OE areas such as cost reduction and process design; whilst for more experienced consultants there are opportunities to take on management and business development responsibilities.

In essence, the current economic conditions have made OE a ‘necessity good’ within banking and insurance, meaning the demand exists for knowledgeable consultants, which in turn promotes an active recruitment market.

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