'Strategic support': understanding its place in today's business

Economy April 28, 2014 00:00


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ONE OF THE KEY success factors that most companies try to obtain from employees is team spirit. In order to survive in today's fierce competition, businesses must build up a strong and effective culture of working as a team, so that the resources of the e

As business transactions become more and more complicated due to the evolving of marketing tools such as social networks and online communication, all business functions must be able to interact at the same speed and understanding. Otherwise, certain groups of people may get into the situation where they cannot get out of the problem they are encountering. For example, front-line people may need to get through an existing work procedure which takes too much time – and then the business opportunity might disappear. This type of problem may be taken up to top management level which could lead finally to a |call for strategic support from each other.

Unlike normal operation support, where individuals can help each other in fulfilling requirements in the normal course of business, the strategic support would need decisions and actions from team members, taking into account the importance of the execution of business strategies.

Therefore, it is necessary for employees to know and understand the business strategies to be implemented, so the company can |achieve the targets. The following |are some perspectives to be con-sidered for those who give business support at the strategic operational level.

l Be flexible – As a business process has to be carried out under the approved policies and procedures, it is important that responsible people have to follow the rules and work on a step-by-step basis. However, in some situations, flexibility at work in terms of time spent, work order, and prioritisation should be considered. For example, a production supervisor may have to stay up late working at an unplanned swing shift so that the production can be run continuously to meet the urgent customer’s order and the monthly sales target.

l Important things first – As workload can be increased unexpectedly, the management needs to allocate appropriate time on the important things that can affect the success of the company’s strategies as a whole. By making sure that key issues are addressed and taken into account seriously, inefficiency and waste can be eliminated. For example, a sales manager may call an urgent meeting so that concerned people can discuss and finalise changes of work procedure regarding returned goods that would affect frontline operational efficiency. The responsive change to be made can help streamline the process and tackle the problem in a timely manner.

l Working together with limited resources – In order to achieve a special project, related departments within a company may need to support the team by providing existing limited resources as needed. For example, in a project from a customer which requires a new design and development of the product, the engineering, marketing, finance, and human resource departments assign team members to join the special project without complaints about the impact on individual assignment accomplishment. The contribution of an individual unit can help the company achieve a goal.

l Focus on team success over individual accomplishment – Obviously, it is meaningless for an individual to be successful when the whole company fails. That is why the corporate key performance indicators (KPIs) become part of top management’s responsibilities in addition to individual KPIs. It is very clear in annual business planning that each department has to work together along the planning and reviewing processes until the best business plan can be successfully developed. This culture change would help enhance the company’s overall performance.

In principle, each function in a company has been designed to |take responsibility for its own work according to the typical organisation chart. But if the company could not enhance the alignment of all functions, it would be difficult to achieve tough targets. Thus by putting emphasis on strategic support |which requires everyone to think strategically when dealing with business transactions, management can ensure that ultimate goals are attained.

Dr Yanyong Thammatucharee is Senior Vice President for Accounting and Finance at Central Marketing |Group. He can be reached at yanyong.thammatucharee@gmail.com