February 18, 2013

A Holistic Approach to Operational Management = Creating Value-add

In this edition:

Leveraging operational excellence through a holistic approach is without a doubt a great way of doing things.

With the perpetual changes in business conditions, it is increasingly difficult to maintain one’s competitive edge.  Businesses are always looking for new ways to create value for their clients, notably by tackling operational management issues faced by their business units dealing with clients.

And so, in its many consulting mandates in operational management, the SSA team often recommends using a holistic approach.

Exactly what is a Holistic Approach?

This widely-used concept in the medical field is fairly new to the business world.

Holistic is from the Greek word holos, which means whole. In medicine, the holistic approach consists of treating a person as a whole rather than treating only an organ, a disease, or the symptoms of a disease.

In management, the holistic approach consists of designing strategies that focus on all fundamental elements that make up the business units in question. Based on a broad and integrated vision, this approach leads to a global understanding of the health or deficiency of the business units, helping to restore and maintain balance between various elements.

A Holistic Vision—Fundamental Elements of Operational Management Practices

The approach described below could be used within a business unit—sales, customer service, technical support or human resources, for example—that deals with internal or external clients.

Based on our experience, clients usually call on us when a recent change has created issues that impact their customers, like issues surrounding the mobilization of a team, service quality, business objectives, or operational efficiency.

The graphic below introduces a high-level model of operational management practices that covers the four fundamental elements that we take into account in most of our mandates:

Service offer

  • Purpose of the business unit
  • Clientele
  • Products and services that address client issues
  • Access to services and service standards
  • Customer satisfaction, quality assurance program, complaint management

Human resources

  • Team composition
  • Roles and responsibilities


  • Tied to customer expectations and operational efficiency


  • Supporting the service offer and business processes

Each of the above elements is important and all are interdependent. The customer service offer and the purpose of the business unit are both key elements that should be taken into consideration to determine the team composition and the role of its members. Processes are first aligned on customer expectations and on the level of operational efficiency desired. The tools or technology must support the business unit’s service offer, as well as the business processes.

Regardless of the issue, to facilitate optimization, it is important to adopt a global perspective that focuses on each of the elements that are part of the operational management practices. This produces a coordinated whole with everything working on the same level, rather than focusing on specific elements, which could create discontinuity and inconsistency, and thus potentially hinder the success of the whole. This ensures that new processes are flexible and efficient and that they create value-add for customers.

Leveraging operational excellence through a holistic approach is without a doubt a great way of doing things. However, additional factors must be included to ensure the success of the approach.

Success Factors

The solutions put forward must be simple, practical, efficient, and easy to implement:

  • Focus on the heart of the matter
  • Capitalize on best practices
  • Bring true value to members of the operational unit
  • Optimize processes
  • Maximize quick wins

Adopt a global perspective:

  • Use tools to develop a global perspective of all activities in order to adopt and manage a vision focused on the client

Measure performance and operations:

  • Create or identify relevant, motivating, and measurable indicators to anticipate needs, make corrections, and ensure monitoring

Ensure cooperation between business units to reach compromises that put the customer first:

  • Listen actively and be open to finding compromises in situations where teams, interfaces, or others have conflicting objectives with regard to the solutions put forward

Align processes / tools / technology on the customer experience:

  • Meet multiple requirements that are aligned on the customer experience

Plan and carry out the project:

  • Set priorities to implement improvements, as well as a schedule, and communicate to all

Provide change management:

  • Inform and involve employees affected by the change to reduce impacts on them and convert them into change agents


The quality of the customer experience is a differentiating factor that helps businesses acquire new clients and develop customer loyalty. Adopting a holistic approach enables the implementation of client-focused processes and creates value-add for clients.

SSA Approach

To improve operational efficiency, whether for performing an assessment, identifying or implementing solutions, optimizing work methods or coaching, our experts use their active listening skills to clearly understand your current situation wherever you are at and adequately define the objectives to be achieved, as well as the steps to get there. Throughout their mandate, they work closely with teams within organizations, transferring knowledge to facilitate change management. Please visit our website to find out more about our operational management or business process services or about our services in general at ssasolutions.com


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Within the context of optimizing the customer experience, businesses looking for flexible and efficient ways of doing things may choose to adopt a holistic approach to manage key elements, notably business units that deal directly with customers. In doing so, those who succeed in using this approach help ensure that their customers' experience is optimal and provides value-add.

In this e-newsletter, we discuss the use of a new approach widely-used in the medical field, but little known in the business world. It brings to an end our series on the success factors needed to implement change by using such an approach.

We hope that this article will help you find solutions not only to take on the constant challenges of providing customer service excellence, but also the issues related to optimizing operational management.


Isabelle Côté

Isabelle Côté President

Our next E-Newsletter

Next publication - The Desired Performance of a Workforce Management Software Won't Happen on Its Own

Using a workforce management software is a logical choice for any organization that wants to optimize the performance of its call centre. However, some have noticed that in spite of having an effective planning tool, many questions remain and operations optimization just isn't happening.

Many factors can explain this situation: Lack of expert training; wrong interpretation of data and metrics; insufficient understanding of software capabilities, etc.

Of course there are solutions and our team will be pleased to fully discuss this issue in our next e-newsletter in May.


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