Organisations, faced with increasing competition and a disruptive environment, often embark on projects or investments aimed at improving efficiency and competitiveness. However, cutting the fat and chasing efficiency is only as good as the planning that goes into the process modelling aimed at discovering where efficiency gains can occur or to spot a business case for automation, for example.
Without this thorough process, there’s a risk people in the organisation resist change, don’t understand the change or the change itself doesn’t achieve the desired objectives. These are all costly outcomes, which is the exact opposite of why one embarks on the activity in the first place.
Traditionally, process modelling, by mere virtue of how it was conducted, had a built-in lag. You conducted your analysis and interviews within, mapped it, presented to stakeholders, and went back and forth until a comprehensive model was presented. Today, organisations can map and model processes in real time — with all stakeholders present — which has fundamentally changed the game. Of course, they can refine and finetune the outcome to best achieve desired objectives, but the fundamental process mapping can occur at the speed of sight.
Process modelling is rigorous and is designed to provide a clear picture of how the organisation functions and how its interrelated parts fit into the bigger picture. Ultimately, the detailed process can identify where businesses can become leaner or where there’s a good business case for robotic process automation. Some processes are just not suited to automation, but the right process modelling will make apparent how ROI can be realised.
In a traditional business setup there are often many handoffs, where the owner of a workflow doesn’t quite understand what happened to it before it landed on their desk, and what happens to it once it leaves their desk. The ability to define a clear hierarchy at the outset and map it in real time is exceptionally powerful in painting the bigger picture for all stakeholders and delivering the what, how and why of an investment or important process change.
Before we dig a little deeper into real-time mapping, let’s look at what does and doesn’t work. For starters, a process-led approach gets to the most beneficial outcome. It talks to the need for having no substitute for actually doing the work. We’ve seen it time and time again where people don’t necessarily take a process-led approach and it turns out that at some point you have to actually come back and redo that work at a later point.
In other words, there are quick ways to get things done but that most often lead one into an incomplete solution, or a situation where you are continuously making changes to get to where you need to be. This happens because the organisation doesn’t develop that deep understanding of where it was and currently is, whereas with the discipline of proper process modelling you get to understand that detail and you get to understand the context in which you are operating. If an organisation short-changes this, it becomes a problem from a change management perspective because people need this type of context. They need to be taken on a journey. It may sound like cliche, but here’s an example that best illustrates the point.
Journey and ownership
Once we worked with an organisation that had implemented an ERP solution. They’d done it well and they seemed fairly happy, but they called and asked us to retrofit some crucial processes for them. And to do this we needed to understand that context: where does the technology fit, where do the roles of the different people fit in and how do they do their work? So, in essence, the systems were in place before we arrived but the people and departments didn’t quite know what to do. Importantly, after we did this, and after we could visualise this journey, we had buy-in and were able to leave them with something that they could own and use as a base for taking the organisation further. This isn’t magic. It’s just the importance of being process led.
At the end of a project there must be a repository for the organisation, something for the business to own. For change to be lasting, there must be ownership; this is a central piece of the puzzle. Without it you can get things done and tick the boxes but you can forget about sustainable change and achieving the objectives you set out to achieve at the start.
It is crucial to start upfront thinking about how you’ll create capacity within the organisation’s teams. When you are undertaking a big change or implementing something new, if you don’t look at your team and think about how your team is going to be put together and how they are going to be resourced, then you’re likely to find that there is always going to be that tension between people’s day jobs and the new implementation — that will remain a conflict. We’ve seen this countless times, where organisations invested in sending staff on project management courses believing the key to sustainable change lay in competency alone, but they soon learn that without actual time and capacity, key managers will hate the work and be less than effective at seeing objectives met.
Without ownership and capacity, you’re unlikely to create something that is sustainable. By creating sustainability, you leave a repository behind. In other words, systems and processes that form a base for the organisation as it moves forward. This is crucial from an IP perspective, as a repository of systems and processes builds a buffer against things such as the brain drain and talent tsunami, or great resignation. Now, you hold IP in the business itself and not exclusively in the human resources.
Technology to map at the speed of sight
Technology should never be used as an end, but as a means to achieve an end. In light of this, we’ve found great success in working with a tool that enables real-time process mapping. While a client may well take the repository after we have left and use it as they see fit, in terms of the actual modelling, Skore visualises and drives process mapping in a way that supports our philosophy outlined above.
When one presents and drafts processes in real time in front of all stakeholders so that they see what you are mapping and why, they are able to confirm and interact with it instantaneously. In other words, they are being taken on a journey and seeing the context. They see and understand the processes. This is fundamental because when it comes to change, they can see the future being mapped and tend to be far more accepting of the necessary change.
They are being taken on a journey and seeing the context. They see and understand the processes
Using this process, the systems integrator becomes integral as they can see what’s being modelled and mapped, and can then drive their own configuration of the solution — which doesn’t have to be held in any one platform. This is where you want to be: ownership and understanding of necessary change among all stakeholders.
While the fundamentals of process modelling have not changed, the pace and interactivity of modern platforms has made the process far more effective both in terms of sustainability and time. The days of endless workshops, interviews, reverts, whiteboards and A3 papers stuck along office walls may have built the foundations of a process-led approach, but technology has enabled this all to happen at the speed of sight.
- The author, Jeremy Chetwin, is CEO Analyze Consulting
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