DUNS Number - 67-716-4521  |  NCAGE CODE – 2444Y  |  FDA - FEI – 3014694901

Pillars of a service business – Systems, Processes, and People

Posted on 09-Oct-2016 by Samir Pandya
Pillars of a service business – Systems, Processes, and People

System – How do we define a ‘System’? A business dictionary describes a system as ‘an organized, purposeful structure that consists of interrelated and interdependent elements, that is designed to carry out a specifically defined activity.’ To put it in simple words – ‘A group of related parts working towards a common purpose.’

If we replace the word ‘parts’ with ‘people’, this is precisely a definition of a ‘Team’. In mathematical term, Team = System + Intelligence.

For a service business, a system is not a set of machinery or tools and therefore, it is certainly a structure which directly or indirectly correlates a human element into it. Systems are run by nobody else, but people and cross-functional teams.

If this is the case, why do we come across instances of failure of a system more often than that of a team? Is there a dearth of intelligence in a system? What is a concept of ‘System intelligence’?

Let us take a short detour to a product business. A system failure in the product business usually indicates a technical glitch in production or packaging. This can be fixed by finding an inaccuracy in the machinery followed by rectification. Such instances are not commonplace since there are set protocols for quotidian, or intermittent machinery supervision. Did you read between the lines? Most of the service business miscues by not putting enough resources to review the systems periodically.

In a service business, unlike a product business, it is challenging to find a glitch in the system until it results into a tangible infliction. Therefore, a set of principles, resources, protocols and actions have to be assigned to scrutinise the adequate functioning of the system. These resources together form system intelligence.

Process: If you read the above-highlighted sentence carefully, it itself defines a ‘Process’. Business dictionary defines a process as a sequence of interdependent and linked procedures which, at every stage, consume one or more resources (employee time, energy, machines, money) to convert inputs (data, material, parts, etc.) into outputs. These outputs then serve as inputs for the next stage until a known goal or end result is reached.

The question is how do we achieve these goals by warranting functionality of processes? Let us take another detour to understand the effects of processes on clients.

We eat our own dog food" - A term, which is believed to have originated with Microsoft in the 1980s, that describes a company using its own products or services for its internal operations.

We might have heard similar marketing tactics of verbiage from many sellers in the market, however, the real picture is far from the reality. The clients are essentially subjected to a ‘guinea-pig testing’ while it comes to conducting a trial on innovative systems and processes. If it works, we make clients happy, if it doesn’t, the rest does not need to be said! Eventually, we look for a new or improvised strategy and a new client for the trial! Certain companies, though, internalise this as an integral part of their strategies to monitor the systems and processes internally before offering to clients.

Allow me to take a moment to cite an interesting example. I work for a Multinational preclinical Contract Research Organization – JRF Global. It has been 20 years we offer these services to clients spread across over 80 countries, under the highest accreditation standards of ‘Good Laboratory Practices’ set by OECD.

A decade ago, during the evolving phase, a prospective client asked our CEO what our USP was. He responded, “We make ourselves our own best client when it matters to the systems and processes. Our leadership team discovered an in-house ‘Master Schedule Software Program’ that monitors past, present and future of all the projects at the company. To ensure the highest quality, this program is managed by the most efficient QA team which has a defined ‘Process’ to run periodic scrutiny for improvisation. In addition to this, there are 19 internal patented software programs running interdependently. This turned out to be the best USP and have given an edge to the company for the last several years over the competition.

What did we do differently? We just made ourselves our own client. Whenever we find an error, the leadership team undergoes intense improvisation process, until the solution is found, implemented and reassured.
Similarly, all of our service businesses can be best run by identifying, designating and ensuring adequate systems and processes. The third pillar is ‘We, the people’ which is an integral pillar which can ensure that these systems and processes, made by us, run by us and managed by us, meet the ultimate goal of a company – A sustainable profit.

Please spare 10 minutes to introspect and brainstorm, how you could impart this in all of your respective businesses.


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