Exploding your SME capacity at a low cost

November 24, 2022 | Business Improvement

builiding sme capacity

How can we possibly get more subject matter experts at a low cost? 

Well, it turns out most businesses have subject matter experts that handle not just the tricky work items, but are also handling the more mundane and less interesting tasks as well. So, in a similar fashion to what happens in a hospital A&E department, what if we could somehow triage the work so that simpler work is handled by lesser skilled or, better still, unskilled users?

Most organisations have some form of workflow, with either automated or manual work allocation out to the teams. Those lucky enough to have a system like OPX will already have fully automated work allocation, ensuring the right work gets to the right people at the right time – but what if we don’t have enough of these people? Let’s look at an example.

At a Business Processing Outsourcer using OPX, the work allocation was in place, but the company asked us how to deal with the peaks and troughs that occur during the peak periods of the year when there is a shortage of skilled users. Initially it seemed simple; hire and train more Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), or find latent capacity in the business (see blog on Latent Capacity ) with suitable skills. However, what if you can’t find, or hire more SMEs because you don’t have the budget? Or the peak period is, say – only three weeks, so adding 46 weeks of cost for three weeks of demand is far too expensive? We had a think, and created OPX Scriptflow.

Using Pareto’s law, usually defined by the 80/20 rule, we started with the premise that only 20% of the SME’s workload actually needed a full-blown, time-served SME and that given suitable training, anyone could handle the leftover 80%. This means that one SME could be expanded to a team of five, with the one SME doing the difficult cases in OPX which are referred to them by the other four team members.

This is all well and good but how do we:

  • Train this 80% team?
  • Keep their skills up-to-date?
  • Ensure they are doing it right?
  • Don’t keep interrupting the 20%, our one SME with more questions that reduces the throughput of the 20%?

The answer is to copy the thinking and the actions of the SME and have the 80% team replay them. We can all see that given a trainer, we could pick the SME’s brain to derive new standard operating procedures and guides of what to do, in which order, to service the customer request – but that would be slow and expensive, while not meeting the four criteria mentioned above. Instead, we needed something magical.

What if the SME, in collaboration with the OPX Super Users (your own team’s operational experts) could build a web-based business wizard?

This wizard could:

  • guide 80% of the team members through the steps to handle a case,
  • ask questions about the case-based on the case’s data, and using the answers drill down to both further questions and/or actions to perform on the case,
  • call out to web services to get extra information from other systems,
  • decide if the case needed the 20% SME resource,
  • pop up parts of online manuals, training guides or standard operating procedures,
  • lead the novice user through the whole process.

So we built Scriptflow, a wizard creation and playback tool, that pops up when needed during your workflows to guide lesser-skilled team members through difficult cases.

OPX Scriptflow allows our customers to build these comprehensive business wizards that allow our customers to explode their subject matter expert SME capacity far beyond our initial expectations, and the benefits turn out to be huge:

  • SMEs no longer become seasonal or period bottlenecks to the same levels they used to be.
  • Rare case work items that occasionally turn up can be processed effectively with no training and no workflow interruptions
  • Failure demand in many processes can be reduced due to the team following the prescribed approach by the SMEs
  • Processes which used to require lots of training and accreditation can often be handled with zero training and simply Scriptflow accreditation as the logic is in the system
  • No need for new complex applications from the IT department, or even IT department involvement as its all handled by the operations team members
  • Latent capacity in the business can handle peak loads that used to require more SMEs
  • Net Prompter Scores increase as the capacity for delivery increases

Scripflow is a roaring success with our customers, and when combined with automated work distribution based on individual skills (at not just process or process activity levels, but at the product or case level), it goes through the business process already built into OPX, providing a winning and optimal solution.

If you would like a demonstration or more details on OPX or OPX Scriptflow please call us on 0141 945 2168 or email us at  [email protected] or visit the web site .

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