Achieving Operational Excellence in a Large Organization with KanBo

Operational excellence or operational efficiency are a couple of terms that are used frequently in modern business environments.

Despite their popularity, few people actually understand what operational efficiency really is. Most organizations tend to conflate it with higher productivity. Let’s first understand the primary difference between the two.

  • Productivity – When you get more work done using the same amount of resources.
  • Operational Efficiency – When you get the same amount of work done using fewer resources.

This means that instead of focusing on how you can increase the output of the organization, you attempt to achieve a similar level of yield while reducing your investment. Enhancing operational excellence requires an organization to invest in its resources so it can improve its performance. However, there’s no one size fits all method that can be implemented across every organization and businesses have to take their unique production goals, processes, and expectations into consideration.

KanBo software enables a wide range of organizations to deploy a work and business process management tool that allows them to maximize the efficiency of their resources through informational transparency, work visibility, and seamless communication and collaboration between the teams.

Key Factors Facilitating Operational Excellence

You have to keep in mind that every organization is functionally unique and there’s no single solution that can help every business optimize its operations. That being said, there are a few parameters that have been observed to be quite common among companies that have successfully acquired a certain level of operational excellence.

1. Foster a Culture of Operational Excellence

The first initiative that an organization should take in their journey to realize enhanced efficiency is the introduction to a culture of operational excellence. It should be emphasized to the teams, managers, and employees that delivering high value to the customer with the most efficient utilization of resources is essential to your business.

This culture shouldn’t only be introduced but celebrated and nurtured by providing feedback and rewarding those employees who are able to deliver more value using fewer resources. Make sure that you provide them with the tools that allow them to be more effective and efficient.

2. Promote Decentralized Management

Most organizations often rely on centralized management where they have predefined hierarchies and the directions and guidelines flow from top to bottom. If you are seeking operational excellence, you will need to replace the centralized approach with decentralized management empowering your employees to make important decisions, participate in discussions, and actively contribute towards improving business processes.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the organization should completely get rid of the top management. The hierarchy should only exist to define a long-term strategic path and vision for the organization and ensuring the middle management and teams have the tools to achieve those goals.

3. Ensure Informational Transparency and Work Visibility

When your primary objective is to let the maximum value flow to the customer with the most efficient use of resources, your organization needs to ensure there are no hindrances, dependencies, and bottlenecks that can have a negative impact. This means that you should ensure both the work and the related information is always accessible to the people concerned with executing your strategy of operational excellence.

One way to achieve this is through the deployment of digital tools that enable visual management – for instance, KanBo. People are more inclined to learn quickly from visuals as compared to text.

4. Introduce Work Processes for Simple and Complicated Tasks

To achieve optimal operational excellence, you need to create and deploy business processes using a scientific approach. Take all factors into consideration, analyze data, and prepare reports to define a standard to achieve a certain task. Then continue to monitor the performance of that process to remove any bottlenecks, weaknesses, and inefficiencies.

You can categorize your organizational work into simple and complicated tasks to develop a business process for each case. This way your employees will always know where the starting point is.

5. Define Clear Objectives and Tie Them with Accountability

Many of the organizations that have been successful in achieving operational excellence have identified an effective way to identify business goals and milestones. These strategic goals should then be further broken down into smaller objectives so every individual involved knows what’s expected of them.

And that’s not it. They go a step further and set up an accountability process based on these goals. Since employees can visualize their objectives, they are more inclined to get the job done ensuring they consume fewer resources.

6. Build Inherent Framework of Communication and Collaboration

At this point, it doesn’t need to be reiterated how important seamless communication and collaboration are for achieving higher efficiency. An organization in search of operational excellence should rely on work management tools that enable communication and collaboration by design. Instead of relying on traditional means of coordination which can be time-intensive, cross-functional collaboration should be a part of the process.

This can be achieved through the deployment of digital tools like KanBo that send active notifications and alerts while accumulating all work-related information in one central location.

Major Challenges in Achieving Operational Excellence

Some of the major challenges that organizations usually face in their path to achieving operational excellence include:

  • Employees get detached from the large picture. They don’t understand the overall strategy and what the business is trying to accomplish.
  • While people are putting in a lot of effort, the progress stays where it was weeks ago. A result-oriented approach is often lacking.
  • In a modern business environment, organizations often struggle to adapt to the new standards which means the competition takes the lead.
  • Investing too much in data accumulation, processing, analyzing, and reporting. It gets too complicated for people to care.
  • Many organizations still rely on management and communication silos which creates a gap between hierarchically separated groups.

KanBo Rollout Empowers Organizations to Pursue Operational Excellence as a Single Team

While the authority structures and hierarchies might be different in every organization, there are usually three different layers – C-level management, middle management, and team members or employees. KanBo allows people present in every organizational layer to leverage the information, knowledge, and processes to ensure they have a high probability of achieving operational excellence.

KanBo Enables C-Level Managers to Provide Opportunities to Experts

When you are working towards achieving operational excellence, it often becomes necessary to bring new talent and experts on board so they can rely on their specialized skills and experience to ensure seamless transformation. However, it can become a crucial challenge to provide all the work-related information and business processes that can help these experts to devise a comprehensive strategy.

That’s where a versatile work and business process management software like KanBo makes the job easier for C-level executives as they can simply add experts and new talent to the concerned board where all the required information is quickly accessible. This also provides an insight into the inner workings of the organization which is necessary to develop and implement innovative and more efficient operational processes.

  • Middle Management or Team Leaders

KanBo Allows Managers to Implement Standard Business Processes

For middle management, the uphill battle often comes in the shape of repetitive tasks and the sheer burden of ‘work about work’. While these tasks are counter-productive, they need to be done in order to proceed forward. This leads to loss of time and human and financial resources reducing the chances of achieving operational excellence.

This particular challenge can also be overcome with KanBo as middle managers can use boards and cards to develop and implement standard business processes for both simple and complex work. They also have the option to deploy separate operating standards for repetitive and one-time projects. This means that both middle managers and employees save time and effort ensuring operational efficiency across the organization.

  • Employees or Team Members

KanBo Ensures Employees Comply with Internal Quality Policies

At the execution level, employees or team members have to face micro-challenges that often go under the radar. Middle managers are too busy to notice the issues faced by their team members while upper management is only concerned with strategic decision-making. This leads to a major problem for employees as they find themselves handicapped.

With KanBo deployment, all the issues and challenges can be reported in real-time so they can be addressed right away. Middle management also takes notice of these issues as they appear on the platform and they can use the data to develop internal quality policies which provide clarity and guidance for team members.

How KanBo Deployment Leads to Creating Customer-Centric Experiences

While the primary objective of any organization looking to achieve operational excellence is to drive the cost of operations down and maximize profit margins, there’s another major aspect that cannot be ignored. With streamlined, lean, and efficient business processes, organizations are in a much better position to deliver consumer-centric experiences.

This allows them to develop trust and integrity in the long run while establishing long-lasting brands that aren’t only celebrated internally in the organization but are adored by your customers. Here are some of the key ways KanBo enables large organizations to build exceptional experiences.

1. Access to Real-Time Information for Quick Decision-Making

High-performance decision-making is at the core of any organization’s success. Apart from the strategic decisions made by the upper management, there are hundreds of decisions being made at an operational level. KanBo ensures that everyone involved in the project has access to real-time knowledge so they can make prompt but informed decisions. This ensures that there isn’t any time or resources wasted to figure out issues, challenges, bottlenecks, and dependencies.

2. Continuous Improvement in Employee Performance

With KanBo deployment, your organization’s employees can leverage the basic features such as BoardsCardsLists, and Labels to ensure effective business process management. They can use the building blocks in a multitude of ways to design and implement operational processes that align with their unique needs as well as business objectives. This allows for continuous improvement in employee performance as they don’t have to rely on traditional means of communication and coordination.

3. Automation of Processes to Reduce ‘Work about Work’

When an organization implements KanBo software as its primary work and business process management tool, middle management of the company along with its employees can automate a diverse variety of processes to eliminate or at least cut down, ‘work about work’. This is a term that refers to the work which doesn’t directly add to productivity but is essential for ensuring informed decision-making. Automation of processes reduces reliance on repetitive and tedious tasks.

4. Access to Insights and Information for Multi-Disciplinary Experts

Bringing experts on board is a smart idea for any organization but it also comes with a few major challenges. For instance, it is often difficult to explain all the moving parts and intricacies of the project they are supposed to provide their expert opinion for. With KanBo, everything from visual insights to work-related information is in one central location allowing multi-disciplinary experts to start their work right away without any delays.

5. Optimal Utilization of Resources

Once you have deployed KanBo software as your organization’s main project and business process management tool, you will quickly start to observe that your employees, teams, and managers are getting more done using the same amount of time and budget. This happens because KanBo delivers informational transparency and work visibility at all levels so employees don’t get distracted in completing tasks that don’t add value to the bottom line.

6. Seamless Exchange of Information Between Managements

Another major challenge for large organizations comes in the form of knowledge disparity between different levels of management. Upper management is more focused on strategic objectives while middle management attempts to translate those goals into practical operational plans. This usually creates a divide in terms of understanding which requires meetings and discussion sessions to bridge the gap. With KanBo, you completely overcome this challenge as everything work-related is being recorded in a central hub.

7. Enhanced Transparency Nurtures Trust in Your Workforce

One of the fundamental philosophies of KanBo is the transparency of work and information. If someone is involved in a certain project, they are fully entitled to know everything about it. That’s why even the lowest level of permission in KanBo provides complete visibility. This helps in creating and nurturing an environment of mutual trust as nobody can hide behind excuses, distractions, and rationalizations.

8. AI-Supported Planning and Resource Management

Another consequential feature of KanBo is the visualization of insights and data for enhanced visibility and understanding. Large organizations can use the data analytics and insights from KanBo to initiate AI-supported planning and resource management. This allows them to identify any loopholes or inefficiencies within business processes and address them to further optimize their operations.

9. Transforming Lean and Agile Approaches into Trends

Because of repetitive and tedious work involved in lean and agile methodologies, many organizations only reserve these approaches for certain projects. It becomes a challenge for them to deploy an agile approach across all the teams and departments due to the absence of an organized and well-managed central hub of information and work visibility. KanBo enables organizations to overcome the challenge to turn lean and agile approaches into company-wide trends.


Operational excellence has turned into a new trend that many organizations are pursuing. With the pandemic still holding its fort, the economic activity hasn’t returned to the pre-COVID19 levels which means businesses are now focusing more on sustaining their output with minimal use of resources instead of maximizing the production. However, achieving operational efficiency comes with a multitude of challenges.

KanBo is a versatile and agile work and business process management tool that provides a central hub for informational transparency and work visibility. This enables employees and managers at every level within an organization to ensure high-performance decision-making, optimize business processes, and reduce inefficiencies.

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