We have learned many things on our assignments, some important ones are set out below for your consideration when you plan your program.
Redefining business processes is a strategy to improve customer experience and staff effectiveness. This increases organisational throughout and raises service standards, which in turn raises revenues and margins. Cost or resource savings occur naturally out of good process design and elimination of rework and unnecessary activities.
End-to-end business processes must cross organisational boundaries. Typically existing processes comprise siloed activities that are designed and optimised for the silos, not for the organisation as a whole. This means the organisation is constrained to the capacity and effectiveness of the least efficient or tightly resourced silo in any process. The organisation may well not operate as an integrated service provider. Don’t work on functionally-based ‘processes’ alone.
Any modern process will be automated, at least to some extent. At the same time service organisations require the ability to personalise their services, as many of their customers want their special circumstances to be recognised. To provide excellent service the need is therefore to automate for the sake of efficiency, but to allow for variation based on human decision-making.
To get the best from a business processes program a subject matter expert is required to work with the organisation’s team, to minimise resource time, to provide timely expert guidance and leadership, to provide method templates and assist with technical tasks, and to keep the team focused on the strategic goals and objectives. The expert also assists the program owner in selection of individual process project teams and guides the project leaders and the work of those teams.
Business processes can be contentious as they cross internal territories. Territorial behaviour is normal and it can limit the progress of the program. It can result in the subordination of strategic objectives to territorial objectives or even the defeat of the entire program. It is an advantage to have an independent arbiter to provide an objective view to the executive management and program owner.
Organisations are best served by consultants guiding and up-skilling the organisation’s own people. Consultants should be used for their knowledge and experience, not as alternative resources. In this way an internal capability is built and consultancy costs are contained.
We welcome comments from practitioners and experienced organisations as to lessons you have learned during business process programs.