Significant changes in the world of business and process are forcing organisations to rethink about how they address process management, says Matt Smith, UK Director of Business Solutions, Software AG. Here, he discusses common pitfalls and suggests strategies that offer the potential to bring closer alignment between business and IT requirements
Today, more than ever, competitiveness depends on how fast a business can adjust its business model and the speed with which its processes and applications can align with the new strategy.
Best practice business process management (BPM) solutions successfully meet this challenge by creating an agility layer that directly interlinks strategy, processes and IT.
For organisations that get it right, BPM can open the door to significant opportunities. Yet there are also many hurdles that need to be overcome, particularly in terms of misaligned organisation, inadequate technology and outdated IT systems.
CFOs and CIOs seeking to strike the right balance between 'keeping the lights on' and making strategic IT investments would do well to stick to a best practice approach to process management –and steer clear of the following 'deadly' mistakes...
1. Implementing systems that don't meet customer needs
To deliver the best possible service, customer's needs should always be taken into consideration at the start of any project. Often, systems are brought in to serve a particular business function without giving proper consideration as to whether they actually meet customer requirements. Without the necessary processes in place, the customer experience can easily become compromised and organisations may miss out on vital opportunities to improve service and grow their customer base.
When combined with business-oriented processes, the capability to process vast volumes of data to understand exactly how and what can be done to improve the customer experience has vast potential. By evolving operations with business process excellence, the organisation will develop the necessary capability to continuously improve how it is perceived by customers.
2. Chaotic processes and lack of visibility
Today's business processes are seldom neat, tidy and structured. In fact, they often run in a chaotic fashion. Achieving good business insight therefore requires an in-depth understanding of the relationships between process and data.
Clear processes are vital to defining and extracting business intelligence and allowing chaos to reign can come at a great cost to the company. Equally, good process management will allow an organisation to see problems before they appear, enabling it to reliably deliver mission critical outcomes, at minimum cost and at the right level of service.
3. Disjointed relationships and lack of process view
Many organisations are now operating hybrid cloud configurations mixing onsite and offsite solutions to deliver the required capabilities. However, with some parts of the value stream living in the cloud and others in the internal infrastructure, they could be overlooking the need to maintain intelligent data relationships across fragmented platforms.
For this reason, organisations need the capability to support business processes end-to-end, independent of the platform style or location. Without a coherent process view, business break-downs are unavoidable, which ultimately can affect both customer experience and profitability.
4. Inappropriate infrastructures
Like any construction, business processes need a supporting infrastructure. Without the ability to guarantee effective communication between applications, there is essentially no way to decipher business intelligence.
In most cases, this needn't mean replacing an existing system but simply involves utilising a system that sits on top of existing infrastructures, minimising disruption to the existing IT landscape. Yet whether using old methods or new tools, solving problems by simply 'building another app' won't create the more agile infrastructure needed to track changing business needs.
Good BPE-driven solutions can deliver tangible value in as little as 60 days, which means that it needn't be complex or expensive to create a permanent and sustainable improvement in flexibility. Rather, it is simply about getting the right focus, and executing with purpose.
5. Failing to keep on top of mobile device management
The rapid development of tablet devices, smart phones and the subsequent growth in consumerisation of IT and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategies has given enterprises the opportunity to become more flexible than ever before.
Managers are able to use mobile devices to access information, perform tasks and monitor processes in real-time. However, there is a potentially serious issue beneath the surface. A significant role must be played by integration software to ensure that data is transferred efficiently between mobile devices and back-end systems. Missing out this aspect invites workarounds and bypasses of process constraints, ultimately resulting in loss of control, management visibility and reducing the ability to react to business conditions.
6. Misguided metrics
Good systems and processes are essential when gathering company data, extracting intelligence and using it to manage the business. Metrics must be consistently monitored to ensure that the business is continually improving and that targets and objectives are met. Intelligence, infrastructure and processes are all considerably less effective if the information that they generate is not then appropriately managed and acted upon.
Using process visibility to measure the right thing at the right time and delivering it to the right person is essential to avoid inappropriate metrics misguiding users. Rather than wading through log files or scrolling endless columns of Excel spread sheets, information should be simply presented via dashboards that are up-to-date and by raising issue alerts automatically on events of business significance. This visibility also helps ensure that problems are predicted, dealt with and avoided in the future.
7. Limiting continued process improvement
No matter how good the design of the IT application or business process management solution, it is unlikely to be effective if the staff members working with it are untrained. By identifying problems, process intelligence creates the foundation for identifying a solution, be that through process change, increased supporting context information to the users or with additional training. This is vital information that can be used to effectively run the organisation based on established, tangible results rather than trial and error.
Through the correct technology, systems and appropriate support, business process management becomes business process excellence and it's this advantage which will empower an organisation to really succeed in today's competitive marketplace.