June 18, 2019 | Bill O’Toole, SVP, Client Advocacy & Onboarding
I recently heard a story about launching missiles and I was struck by how closely the story aligned with our business. I found the analogy to be extremely powerful.
Mike Abrashoff, then-Commander of the USS Benfold, received intel from the Pentagon that the Benfold team would be commanded to launch Tomahawk missiles on only two hours’ notice. But Abrashoff knew it had always taken longer than that to complete the launch sequence. “They can order us to do whatever they want,” he said, “but if the process doesn’t support us launching in under two-and-a-half hours, it’s never going to happen.”
Early the next morning, a junior officer knocked on Abrashoff’s door. The officer had stayed up all night analyzing the missiles and the procedures, and had discovered that over time the missiles had been upgraded several times but the missile launch procedure had never changed. The officer concluded that 23% of the procedure steps could be dropped and the missiles could launch in under two hours1.
He was right.
When we first met, out teams spent a lot of time together aligning processes and technologies. The trade process, the model change process, the reconciliation process, business and performance reporting processes … all of these were carefully orchestrated with the goal of eliminating business disruption during – and after – onboarding.
Over time, businesses evolve and technologies change. And while most of us require periodic review and revision of our procedures, I wonder sometimes if, as with Abrashoff’s junior officer and the steps required to launch new missiles, we miss opportunities along the way.
Here are a few examples of what I mean.
- When we enhanced our tax selling capability we cut by half the number of steps required during the lot identification, harvesting, restriction-setting/expiry, and buy-back processes.
- Three steps were saved for applying model changes to investor accounts when we added the ‘today’s changes’ feature in the multi-security scenario.
- Countless file requests and deliveries were made moot with the introduction of the Archer Datamart.
- At least four time-consuming and risk-laden tasks vanished with the addition of the Account Selection Tool.
In some of those examples, technology forced a procedure change because the technology supporting the old procedure was replaced. In other examples such as the Account Selection Tool, the opportunity to save steps was more subtle and could have been missed.
At Archer, we reward team members who discover ways to increase efficiency and reduce risk. And we provide briefings and newsletter articles that include best practice suggestions as new capabilities are released. Throughout, we actively encourage the question, “how can we leverage change to improve systems, processes, procedures, and practices?” We believe that when the question is asked often enough, we won’t miss opportunities for efficiency.
- Photography by Andy Cross / The Denver Post via Getty
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