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Enabling powerful change through business design.

The Design of Service Operations (DSO) training programme drives powerful change across your whole business by linking improvement work back to your business strategy and service proposition. We developed the programme in conjunction with Loughborough University, and have trained several clients through in-house courses.

As we launch the public DSO awareness and foundation programmes we caught up with David Crow, a recent graduate of the course, to find out how it has impacted his work.

David is the Head of Operational Design at Ulster Bank. He’s a Six Sigma Master Black Belt who has experienced change in a number of senior positions, and found the real value of the DSO course was how it made people think differently.

Let’s start with a brief overview of your career history.
I started my career at Barclays, where I progressed through managerial roles before moving to RBS as Lean Leader in 2012. At the start of this year I took on a new role as Head of Operational Design for Ulster Bank; we’ve been examining how to pull in all operational work and make it work most effectively.

What works well about the course, and how does the DSO methodology build on your previous improvement training such as Lean and Six Sigma?
DSO augments Lean thinking with a holistic methodology; it provides a far better result at the end by intelligently aligning process improvements to strategy. Lean transformation projects work well but I always felt there was more that could be done to get real value from the full process.

This course brings powerful insight into how you can change a business for the better.

It won’t contradict anything you currently think; you’ll find DSO and Lean/Six Sigma work hand in hand. By building on Lean skills with a broad methodology it will further drive your ability to make great change.

What impact has the course had on your work since returning to the office?
The biggest change in my thinking has been around strategy and service provision, thinking critically about how I set up this business in the best possible way. It’s about getting everything running optimally so you work smarter, rather than just bringing each decision back to cost. It also set me up with tools you want to use straight away; one of the key things I did was business mapping templates, which proved to be a great way of introducing the DSO framework to colleagues.

Can you give us an example of a project you’ve run using the DSO methodology?
I ran an eight month back office processing project at Ulster Bank, where previous initiatives hadn’t worked as well as desired, with a focus on improving quality and reducing cost. There were improvements we could make in our different teams for commercial, retail and business customers, but we were really interested in the process architecture approach which meant looking at all the processes and seeing how many were common.

We reduced over a thousand processes into 25 families, making this almighty jigsaw puzzle far simpler to understand, so we could then question how to best apply our resources.

We removed commercial, retail and business siloes, and ran larger teams with multi-skilling instead. Our core teams worked on straight-through processing at an easily manageable speed producing best quality, with a separate team pulling out the rarity processes.

All of a sudden the work started to flow far easier.

People realised that it was a lot better, they weren’t as stressed, and the extremes of variation were better managed. It was also a surprise for many to see the process end to end. We found customers with a failure in their application were re-entering the process from the beginning, so their process time was longer than expected. Once people knew that, they wanted to do something about it.

Whilst it’s difficult to definitively prove what has been increasing our NPS scores, our front line directors have been very pleased with the work, and feel it gave them the power to drive more positive demand at the front end. They could make a better offer to the customer, confidently based on quicker service delivery.

Who would you recommend the course to?
Anyone who wants to deliver powerful change in their business. People like me who are driving or designing change across the business should take this through to practitioner level, and for successful sponsorship I think the more C-suite people that get on this course the better. Our Head of Operations has just taken the course. It’s great to drive change from the top, and foster better sponsorship of these projects throughout the business.

Accreditation also brought a level of gravitas from a world-class university. I met academics from Loughborough University and had a lot of confidence in how the course was developed.

What organisational challenges could DSO help with?
The course defeats short-term views; it’s not just about what you can do to save money, but what you should do. You need to make intelligent decisions to ensure the business is in a healthy state to move forward, and continue to drive efficiencies.

By thinking far more strategically, having conversations on where you want to be tomorrow and weaning people off those knee-jerk decisions, we can have more in-depth, challenging and rewarding projects.

One of the other key organisational challenges this supports is adapting to a different environment.

This course is an incredibly useful way of working out how to set yourself up for the future.

DSO has provided a fantastic and challenging way of looking at things differently, as well as introducing me to people I can pull upon for advice and resource.


Find out more.

Design of Service Operations (DSO) is a course delivered by OEE Consulting on operating model design for service industries. It will ensure your business delivers both its strategy and service proposition.

Find out more about our in house and public DSO training programmes.

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