As part of Solutions Review’s Expert Insights Series—a collection of contributed articles written by industry experts in enterprise software categories—Byron Aulick, the Digital Transformation Team Manager at Docufree, outlines six keys to business process management success.
Successful businesses are good at what they do: producing products, providing services, selling them, invoicing for payment—rinse and repeat. This happens every day. We know that. But, there are ideas and concepts circulating out there about improving efficiency and effectiveness. In other words, people who are in charge of resources (e.g., time, money, staff, etc.) and responsible to shareholders are asking themselves if doing things the old-fashioned way is the best foot forward—considering we are in 2023.
Likely during the last hundred years, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, managers have been wrestling with these same thoughts. Yet, still today, companies struggle with answering that fundamental question: Are we efficient, or are we unnecessarily wasting resources?
Adding to that is the fact technology is ever-changing. Realistically, if you haven’t at least evaluated the technology your department uses or implemented a full-blown “upgrade,” you are most likely already well behind the business-process-improvement curve.
Managers today are already overburdened with work, and keeping staff productive takes time. So, where is the time for companies to be introspective and reflect on what and how work is being performed? Many companies circumvent the real answers to these questions by adhering to the adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Does this sound like the best business practice in this day and age? No. Does this give the appearance of a company with an eye toward maximum efficiency? No. This type of company is firmly entrenched in “the way we’ve always done it.” And this company is not positioned to be very effective in weathering marketplace ebbs and flows, nor is it built for strategic growth.
This article aims to help companies better evaluate and improve their business processes with guidelines gleaned from years of analyzing workflows and the people who perform them.
Is there a better way? Is there a faster way? What if fewer errors were encountered along the way? This is the crux of process management and process improvement. Candidly, you could manage a broken or outdated process, but wouldn’t it be best to manage the rollout of an improved process?
When people throw around words like analysis, assessment, consulting, process improvement, or the big one—digital transformation—corporate executives tend to cringe. Rightfully so. Hiring one of the “big five” consulting firms to come inside and disrupt staff looking at their processes, then produce a massive report for a six-figure price tag usually only yields more things to do (reading the report) and more frustration (exposing a myriad of unknown inefficiencies to address). However, if the approach to business process management (BPM) and improvement is made right, using the proper steps and producing a consolidated and consistent findings report, then that can indeed help and should be the first step before undergoing any change.
Before any recommendations to change workflows are offered, it’s essential to understand them fully. There is a systematic approach associated with business process management success. Below are six keys to success:
1) Involve all corporate stakeholders
When you involve all corporate stakeholders, alongside outside consultants close to the business, companies can identify processes that are broken or could be performed better. This helps companies avoid getting caught in the “you only know what you know” trap.
2) Determine what process improvement would look like
It starts with a thorough understanding of how the process is being performed today or its “current state.” Working with someone with knowledge, certification, and experience in process improvement can expedite this exercise, helping hone in on where the troubles are and developing a road map for actual enhancements.
3) Identify areas of waste
Once the current state is documented, identify areas of waste. From here, a review of how technology and workflows can be implemented toward improvement should occur.
4) Look beyond technology as a quick fix
There is more to process improvement than technology. That certainly may be part of the fix but don’t forget about the human factor.
5) Have a plan in place for retraining staff
Process improvements often mean less staff is needed to do the work. Reducing full-time employees is a bad idea when companies struggle to hire staff. It would be better and more cost-efficient to transfer and retrain existing employees for new positions elsewhere in the company.
6) Develop a change management plan
Business process management is about keeping an eye on the ball. Remember, companies still have to conduct business, make widgets, and send invoices, all while undergoing potentially radical changes.
Several marketplace forces are putting pressure on organizations to transform digitally, but transformation projects largely fail because people become so enamored with technology. They make it the centerpiece instead of focusing on the operating model. Technology alone will not fix a broken process. Transformation first requires a blueprint for business process management success that clearly communicates and visually outlines what your company is trying to do, how you’re accomplishing that today, and what successful execution should look like. Then, the blueprint identifies how improvements can be met with the right technologies, workflow changes, and human engagement.
- Business Process Management: Six Keys to Success - May 18, 2023