2 min read

A meditation on operations

I’m in the process of acquiring an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). One of the requirements is that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) verify my work contract. I’ve been thinking about these government agencies. I wonder what their operating metrics are. Do they even have them?

In OnFrontiers where I led and managed client operations, our main metrics were 24h delivery (did we deliver an expert to the client within 24h?) and 48h match (did the client confirm that these experts are in fact a good match for them?)

We were fanatical about maintaining this hard rule. Did we deliver an expert in 24 hours, yes or no? Oh, we did it in 25? 25 hours != 24 hours.

There are no partial points for that.

We don’t do this for the hell of it. A fanatical focus on our operating metrics — speed of delivery — comes from deep empathy for our clients. Matching with an expert may be the end for us, but to our clients, it is merely the beginning. Once they match with an expert, they then need to interview the expert, synthesize their learnings, compile them into a deck (report), then present recommendations to their client… 

We understand that our end result (a “matched” expert) is merely one input in our client’s process in order to produce their output. Us delivering even 1 hour later than expected could result in delaying them not by 1 day, but many days or even weeks.

This is in fact what has been happening in the course of my getting an OEC to start working in Germany. It’s a long process with many steps. Each step purports to take 2-3 business days. Many of them have taken from 33% to twice as many days. 

For example, the POLO confirming if they need a “certified translation” is merely an input for my employer to compile the requirements, which is an input to get a POLO verified contract, which is an input to getting the POEA clearance, which is an input … ad to what feels like infinitum.

Each government office took their sweet time, delaying their respective outputs by 2-3 business days, each of which has been a bottleneck in my process. What was supposed to take two weeks has now taken four. And it’s still not over. I don’t have my OEC yet.