Starting From A Different Place
Blog: BPM Focus - Derek Miers
While engaging with customers on BPM initiatives we often see a desire to move forward with a broad-based process mapping exercise, but find ourselves recommending a degree of caution. Often there is a need to recast the scope and initial emphasis of the initiative first.
Bigger Gains to be Made!
There are far bigger gains to be made from ‘Doing Different Things’ rather than just ‘Doing Them Differently’ (process improvement). So before you launch into a program of process re-design consider looking at your business from a subtly different place – the customer experience and the outcomes they desire. Re-designing your business around the customer experience and what the customer values will not only deliver better customer relationships and a better long term competitive position, but it will also transform your own costs!
For example, we now think nothing of it, but when Federal Express started providing customers with a way of tracking their own packages, they transformed the customer experience (and changed an industry). As a result they enhanced their own competitive position, but they also saved a lot of money. They had effectively re-distributed the process, outsourcing the tracking element to the customer using an automated service.
Ensuring Greater Commitment and Engagement!
Whereas the more traditional approach of process improvement results in slow and incremental improvements at best, the strategic focus on a broader organizational transformation – more quickly improves customer facing processes and overall competitiveness.
A process mapping exercise is an essential part of that long-term transformation objective, but it starts people off in the wrong mode – often reinforcing past behaviors rather than giving the organization a framework within which to improve.
The issue is really one of organizational engagement – how to build the appetite for long-term organizational improvement. It is not that process mapping is not important – it is. It is more that about the context for that process mapping and who will really undertake it. If the organization has an external provider come in and “do it for them” then it will miss much of the opportunity associated with that effort.
Individuals from within the respective business units will not be intimately involved, and as a result, they will see it as somebody else’s solution. On the other hand, if you empower teams to design a new future – one that meets the needs of your target customers, and at the same time propels the organization into a stronger competitive situation (more efficient, lower cost, faster, safer, etc), then they will rise to the challenge. The challenges are their challenges; the changes are then their changes; the improvement initiative is their improvement initiative. Why? Because people really do want to do a better job; they want to feel that their jobs are safe, etc.
A Different Container
The point is that using the “Customer Experience” and “Services” as a driver for business change gets you over the organizational engagement hurdle. Rather than having conversations about the defensibility of the current processes of the business unit – that is, assuming their eyes don’t glaze over as they start looking for something else to do – they start thinking about how to improve the outcomes for customers.
Too often, when you try and address the “process” problem directly, business people maintain that their processes are already good enough; or that they just need good people (rather than admitting that they don’t know what their processes actually are). But if you challenge these same people to think about the alternatives that customers have, and benchmark services that may be out there, they suddenly see it differently. The conversations are entirely different. It starts them off at a different point – one that has leadership team blessing and involvement.
Maintaining The Focus
Of course, the fact that they need processes to support service delivery then becomes obvious. The process mapping effort is then a way of creating a baseline – documenting where the organization is at currently. The degree of detail and metrics gathered are naturally focused on the outcomes that customers experience. It stops team members disappearing down rat-holes as they endlessly model the nth degree of detail. The brand-level “customer experience statement” acts as a guide and rudder to the overall change programmed.
Yes, a little more time is spent in preparation and organizational alignment (with the Leadership Team and in commissioning teams) but our methods enable the organization to reap big dividends. They save money in the context of undertaking that process mapping exercise. But more importantly, they create an appropriate organizational vision for how the organization is going to develop and deliver customer value in the future. Rather than appearing to boil the ocean, they provide a fast track to the benefits that the organization desires. They lower the risk in that management can make investment decisions and set priorities based on the blueprints developed by the teams, safe in the knowledge that the organization is firmly behind the overall change program.
At the same time, our approach grows the skills and business acumen/maturity of those involved in the business today. We set out to embed the world’s best practices in your people, enabling them to continue improvements and drive ongoing improvement efforts into the future. Moreover, it prepares them to improve their business themselves. Experiencing these methods and techniques helps your people build the confidence that they will need in order to deliver on the long-term strategic vision.
This leading edge, yet pragmatic methodology is derived from many years of experience, building on and extending techniques such as Balanced Scorecard, EFQM, Lean and Six Sigma. It also includes a practical program management methodology that extends common BPM Project/Program methods.