Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, February 1, 2019

Operationalization!




So earlier this week, I had a conversation with a business colleague about ISO 27001 certification and task management, and he came up with the term operationalization … the idea that a management task can be built into a regular workflow.

This is a great concept I hadn’t really consciously thought about.  Really, it’s something we do at various levels of our companies, regardless.  We are ‘operationalizing’ tasks all the time when we hard-code essential tasks into our company’s day to day functions.  We force staff members with hard limits, deadlines, job requirements to run reports, reconcile bank accounts, set quotas, have meetings, and so on. 

However, what made my colleague excited, is that I’ve pro-actively operationalized a few tasks. 

Here’s an example: Our company values our social media reputation --  we don’t want negative reviews piling up from consumers or clients, and it’s a point of difference for our external reputation and how we are different – how many collection agencies can state they get a 5-star Google review from a consumer thanking us for working with them to pay their account?  It’s a great concept, but it requires focus from our company to maintain that positive reputation, and keep all our collectors focused on that goal. 

So we have set up a task management system to log exceptions, and one of the tasks we can log is a social media review.  A 1-star Google review is -0.25 and a 5-star review is +1.0.  Staff members typically get a raise after +5 or +10 (depending on their salary levels), so a staff member who is just meeting expectations of generating their revenue but manages to get 10 positive google reviews will get a raise.  It places a specific numeric value on the result of achieving a positive social media review, and gives a tangible reward to the staff who achieve it.  Because our scoring system is laid out on our staff review report we do every month with every staff member (collection staff, outreach staff, technical staff, etc), it creates awareness and focus on our social media reputation, and becomes a self-managed value of the company.

Another example is the ability for staff to give each other commendations when they go above and beyond the call of duty.  They can (up to three times in 30 days) award any other staff member a +0.1 to their monthly scorecard and thank them with a message of what they did, which is shared with all our site managers.  It ‘operationalizes’ a positive work environment where people want to go beyond their job descriptions, it allows co-workers to engage in a limited form of peer-review and it shares that information with site managers so they are kept in the loop when someone has done something excellent, and ultimately rewards the staff member (again in the example above, if we have a collection staff member who is just meeting expectations of generating their revenue, but has four other people each month give them a staff recommendation, if they do nothing else positive, will receive a raise after two years for just being easy to get along with and supporting their co-workers).

What this means is the management of the company can focus on the architecture of how to recognize goals being met, or behaviours in the workplace, and roll that out to their staff to be self-managed.  It’s like setting collection targets for staff for the month, or running KPI reports, but in a interactive and transparent manner rather than a top-down dictatorship.  By sharing with the team what is important and valued, and giving them the keys to log or achieve these milestones, it means you have passed the direction of the company to your team, who will be rewarded for sharing your vision and goals.

And when it comes to ISO 27001 certification, anyone who has conducted an internal audit knows that building the Big Book of Processes is easy, conducting internal audits to ensure everyone is following those processes and logging their tasks is hard, and a huge time suck for management.  If you can motivate your teams and hard-wire your company to automatically log these tasks without pain or suffering or pointless bureaucracy, you have ‘operationalized’ part of the management of your company.

I’m certainly no expert on this subject, and I wasn’t consciously thinking of what I was doing in these specific terms until this week – my goal was simply to align our team with our company goals through tangible measurement and rewards.  So, if anyone has comments or suggestions to further elaborate on the subject, I’d be thrilled to hear from you. 

Thanks kindly,

Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
KINGSTON Data & Credit
Cambridge, Ontario
226-946-1730
bwettlaufer@kingstondc.com