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A Foundation of Operational Excellence Drives Success, Particularly During a Pandemic

Symcor Fraud Prevention Month
Tim Kelly April 29, 2021
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For any organization, the journey to becoming its best starts with a focus on operational excellence. An enterprise-wide commitment to operational excellence might just be the ‘secret sauce’ that helps companies become industry leaders. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an excellence-oriented culture has never been more important for an organization to withstand change and fuel growth. 

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, our world has experienced change at an unprecedented scale. It is crucial for organizations to pivot and react on a continual basis and over an extended period. Due to COVID-19, consumers are increasingly interacting with businesses on a digital level, requiring organizations to accelerate their digital transformations and greatly enhance their customer experiences. With no playbook on how to navigate these times, organizations rooted in operational excellence have proven much stronger and more responsive in adapting to the rapid and disruptive changes that COVID-19 set in motion. 

What is operational excellence and what does it take to achieve it? 

Operational excellence is the constant pursuit of doing things better, of improved performance and profitability in all areas of business.[1] By continually evolving and refining systems, organizations can consistently deliver value to customers, secure their trust and partnership, and attain higher levels of performance. 

A mindset of operational excellence needs to be deeply embedded into an organization’s culture. From the C-suite, all the way to the operations floor, a shared mission will empower and motivate employees to continually deliver value to customers, earn their trust, and attain higher levels of performance. 

Aiming for an ideal state of operational excellence requires a 360-degree approach. Organizations need to look at each department as a part of the whole. Experts liken operationally excellent organizations to a single organism with a common desired outcome, rather than a series of linked departments who execute activities in their silos causing leaks in communication and efficiency.[1] 

A Culture of Operational Excellence Provides a Competitive Advantage During COVID-19

Increased speed and agility are two of the most significant advantages of embracing a culture of operational excellence. Together, they strengthen the organization’s resilience against unexpected events by enabling appropriate adjustments and pivots when required. Operationally excellent companies create an uninterrupted value stream that feeds the need, even when the need changes.[2] 

Symcor’s commitment to operational excellence has been paramount in our ability to maintain the high service-level standards that clients have come to expect over the past 25 years, even during COVID-19. Symcor is a trusted partner to Canada’s largest financial institutions and business organizations, many of whom are deemed essential services during COVID-19. They look to us to deliver value and efficiencies through industry-wide solutions. Even more importantly, they expect resilience and agility to support the rapid change brought about by COVID-19. Supporting such critical Canadian institutions requires a culture and discipline for operational excellence. Symcor has been running an operational excellence program for the past ten years, with a dedicated team focused on continually re-examining and improving processes. 

Symcor’s approach to operational excellence is two-pronged: We repeatedly optimize the efficiency and quality of our operations and services. This effort is led by teams in production engineering and quality engineering, both dedicated to service level excellence. 

The second leg of striving for excellence looks at process improvement. We map our value-streams, run incisive forecasting models to plan resourcing, investigate end-to-end processes to identify waste and expedite response times. 

Operational Excellence Lays the Path for Future Success

Over the years, our continuous improvement efforts have consistently helped us achieve excellent Lean Six Sigma levels. By automating steps within repetitive manual processes, we have been able to maximize the human potential of our employees, reduce errors and deliver cost and time efficiencies to our clients. As an example, Symcor’s operational excellence team spearheads an in-house Centre of Excellence for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to look at opportunities within the organization to utilize AI to drive improvement and accelerate change for our industry partners. 

Our focus on operational excellence allows Symcor to positively impact the many industries and institutions that we provide our solutions and expertise to. Guided by our North Star, Connecting for Common Good, we actively engage with our partners and clients to innovate and effect industry-wide change for our employees, our clients, and our communities.


[1] Redefining Operational Excellence by Andrew Miller

[2] Acuity Institute - Operational Excellence vs. Continuous Improvement

Symcor Fraud Prevention Month

Tim Kelly

Vice President of Operational Excellence

Tim Kelly, Vice President of Operational Excellence, has been with Symcor for the past ten years. A Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Tim has 30 years of experience driving operational excellence across organizations in manufacturing and financial services sectors. At Symcor, he leads a team of 50 individuals, focused on advancing Symcor’s culture and practice of operational excellence. Prior to Symcor, Tim worked with the PNC Financial Group for six years, responsible for their operations in Chicago. He has worked with Panduit Corp for 10 years, as their VP of Network Systems Division, leading their business development, operations, quality, and research. Tim has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Industrial Technology from Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S. A former Division 1 Football and Lacrosse official, Tim currently lives in Florida with his family.

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