Status of Productivity, Innovation and Process Improvement Consulting
CMC Today Interview with Sorin Faur, CMC – Bucharest, Romania
- In Romanian/Eastern European organizations today… what is their state of efficiencies and effectiveness of their internal processes & systems. Do you have any statistics on productivity levels for example?
Across Romanian organizations today, I think that we can find probably the entire range of situations regarding their state of efficiencies and effectiveness of their internal processes & systems. There is not yet a clear and definitive trend toward productivity with the exception of a number of fields and domains like for example IT, banking, automotive and consulting – mainly because these fields are very competitive and there are many international players involved.
Romanian companies still need knowledge and support to address their internal processes & system design, and the many consulting projects and products being sold today are in fact addressing these needs. The need is there, no doubt, and many are aware about it as it is being demanded in the marketplace. (Everybody is being pushed to decrease costs, downsize or become more effective.)
In terms of general productivity, Romania is making significant progress, although still much to do. Romania is now reaching a 56.7% EU productivity level while it was at 34% 10 years ago. This makes our country, the country with the most significant increase in productivity in the last decade from all members of the EU. Although the pace of evolution is exceptional, Romania is still one of the last in terms of absolute productivity numbers therefore there are still many opportunities regarding consulting services in this regard.
- What are some examples of high-impact consulting work that has been done to improve productivity, quality, Business Process Re-engineering and/or innovation?
I can provide two examples from what we have done lately:
- There were many requests regarding workload analysis or how to know to achieve the optimum number of employees. Many companies are still struggling to find the equilibrium between revenues, costs and no of employees therefore some are having people in excess, some are working their employees to much, who in part are becoming less satisfied, more tired, more disconnected and less productive. As the revenues fluctuated, both up and down, many companies find difficult to get in the middle and they were looking for a model to make it right.
- Another set of requests is dealing with engagement and motivation, both for younger and not so younger employees. After a number of years in the red, many were stuck with their employers not because they wanted but because they had no alternative. What was “temporary” became permanent, and now there are company owners that feel something is not right: people are not motivated and not engaged. A lot can be achieved by having satisfied employees - thus we have seen a number of client projects trying to increase employee engagement.
- How do/might some of these internal process initiatives assist organizations improve their “value proposition” to customers, making them more competitive/successful even during the challenging economic climate?
I would say that the most obvious impacts are:
- having improved employees’ engagement, and
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Employees are the first to undermine a company image if they are not motivated, even though this is not done with intention. Customers today are highly demanding in any market segment, as customers know there is always somebody willing to work harder to offer what they need. Customers are asking for impeccable service quality, immediate support, transparency, and a “good” price – many of which can be negatively affected by demotivated employees. Finding ways to increase employees’ motivation become paramount for many companies, or at least for those employees getting in direct contact with customers.
- One example from a pharma company for who we provided first a very personalized training program on engagement, for their managers to understand main concepts and what they can do and second, we built a package of measures and solutions, which emerged from a number of process workshops with the same managers after the training. We guided the process and owned the methodology, but the solutions came from their management team, following of course the general principles provided by us.
Another activity with high impact on the value proposition a company is offering to its customers is Training. Training it was the first to be cut-off by companies when crisis started in Romania in 2009 and therefore there were a number of years when only a few were still receiving training for free. Now, the market is focused mostly on professional trainings, or on specialized trainings (not on soft-skills anymore) and this was and still is one of the best ways to get solid results and high impact on clients.
- Here I can give an example of a large multinational in IT where they were asking for a very effective Leadership Development Program for their future-to-be managers. They were specifically rejecting “classical” leadership trainings and were looking for a more applied program, requiring one-to-one meetings with their people plus coaching. Therefore we needed to design a completely new program, including very engaging activities for their future managers, more like a modular in-house academy rather than a traditional external training program.
- Do clients see the benefits to investing in such initiatives – what are some of the “sales” elements that are most effective? Do consultants measure and deliver significant ROI to their clients in these initiatives? What measures are most common-place?
The only sustainable way to sell today is to sell benefits and results.
The era of “nice-to-have” is gone. Consulting customers are asking for very concrete solutions to very concrete problems and they demand concrete results.
Sometimes, customers are addressing consulting companies like BDO when is too late or almost too late, or when the situation to be solved is already highly problematic. In a majority of cases, customers are asking only for what they think they need; beyond this they are choosing or are being forced by budgets to address the remaining situations they identify, using their own internal solutions (good or bad) or they try to find something free or cheap on the internet.
Clients are for sure seeing the benefits of innovative consulting efforts that deliver concrete results. However, paradoxically; I would say there is not a lot of pressure on measuring ROI as long as the solution is seen to be solving the problem(s). When you have a certain need and that need is satisfied at the lowest price agreed, ROI is not seen as important. What is therefore important is to deliver results, in due time and at a competitive price.
About the Interviewed CMC: Sorin Faur
Sorin has over 16 years of experience in Human Resources consulting, leading highly complex projects in the following areas: diagnosis and organizational development, design and optimization of organizational structure, change management, performance management, HR policy design, organizational culture and training. He has worked with numerous organizations like Coca-Cola, Lisa Draxlmaier, Valeo, Renault, GFR, Romanian Labor Ministry, BCR, Aectra, InterAgro, Agricover, Avon, Karcher, Knauff and many others. Sorin has a degree in Psychology and has a Master Degree in Psycho-diagnostic and another Master Degree in Organizational Psychology. Internationally, Sorin is an EMBA graduate (Executive Master of Business Administration with WU - Vienna University – Austria and Minnesota University - USA) and recently has graduated a short term program about Eentrepreneurship & Leadership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, USA. email@example.com