By Dr Gero Decker, Co-lead SAP Business Process Intelligence & Co-founder of Signavio.
This is a question that process professionals regularly ask, particularly when looking to improve essential business practices that can greatly affect customer loyalty. Responsible for transforming the customer experience into one largely digitised, process managers are behind the digital intelligence pivot. How they make that change, however, relies entirely on how these teams are managed.
Research conducted by McKinsey reveals that a shocking $900bn is wasted on digital transformation investment projects that fail, which is a huge 70% of them. In my experience, the mistakes and missed opportunities are largely a failure of the process — either in its design or implementation — rather than technology or human error alone.
This is where process professionals come in. They efficiently close the gap between a customer’s journey and the machinery that digitises it. A streamlined user interface and AI-fuelled chatbot can’t stitch together the 700 internal steps across siloed teams and disparate information systems that are required for a customer to take out a single bank loan. Process design can.
However, it is C-suites with little regard for the process function, coupled with a chronic lack of investment, that tarnishes many organisations’ digital ambitions. Companies did not experience ‘a higher volume of calls than usual’ when COVID-19 struck. The real culprit for long wait times and declining customer service was lack of process know-how to rapidly stand up a virtual customer service centre. It’s little wonder that Signavio research revealed that a third of UK consumers felt customer service had worsened during the pandemic.
COVID-19 forced all companies to accelerate their digital transformation efforts. This does not mean that all of them, or even most of them, succeeded. To avoid being bracketed under the 70% of digital business process failures, companies must engage and invest in their process teams. To empower them to lead the new wave of post-COVID-19 digital acceleration, business leaders must be ready to strike down several barriers.
Instead of branding process managers as ‘not strategic enough’ and only good for troubleshooting avoidable problems at the very end, C-suites have a duty to empower them. This will create room for process leaders to influence projects from the start and even temporarily put them into reverse, by understanding that the nailing process at the beginning will significantly accelerate the implementation of any technology or system further down the line.
Put data at the centre
Far too many organisations still implement archaic modes of working and then wonder why their digital efforts seem to be failing. Many complex mapping tasks still rely on pen and paper, a jumble of disjointed documents, or a few focus groups and a whiteboard. Project teams need access to data-fuelled software that enables them to automate mining, mapping, and process redesign to unlock efficiency and growth. Capture and surface the data, and leverage it to enable the faster decision making that your organisation is asking for.
Stop isolating operations
Operational gaps between the desired customer experience and the supporting processes required to deliver it are all too prevalent in many organisations and demand bridging. An error in the Order to Cash or Procure to Pay journey could be caused by a process failure in six or seven different departments. Mapping provides a rigorous, objective ‘single source of truth’ and ensures that a company can quickly pinpoint the exact link in the chain that is responsible for a system error.
Training for the future of process mining
The future of the process management discipline is both data-driven and customer-obsessed. As these two elements become increasingly critical to fuel our digital world, the process mining profession urgently needs an influx of new skill sets in data science and design thinking to unlock its true potential. It also needs the tools to create systems that scale well beyond traditional white boards and sticky notes on meeting room walls.
It is time for companies to begin investing in the right training programs to support their process professionals. Companies can embrace this new future by building hard, technical capabilities as well as softer, change management skills. Companies that refuse to embrace these opportunities for greater agility and adaptation will ultimately fail to evolve, a failure that will cost market share and even long-term viability.
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