Designing and Deploying Human Centric Processes
Plenty of effort was completed in the last years to re engineer processes in order to automate all or parts of these. A good number of companies have changed their processes as a consequence of the introduction of new software systems, aimed to streamline the management of their back and front office. Companies have even taken care of processes crossing the company boundaries in order to optimize communications with clients, suppliers and partners. A characteristic of this interest is that is has been driven by technology.
In the last years we've seen the introduction of ERP and CRM systems, Content and Document Management systems, Workflow Automation Programs, etc.. . That have (or will) help businesses achieve a more efficient utilization of their resources. It appeared that CIOs believed an impressive IT portfolio could directly lead to better processes.
Yet less attention has been directed at the human side of process optimization. A whole lot of money is spent on paying a staff by a world class consultancy company, best of breed software products permits, etc.. . And it's usual that the value of deploying the new procedures effectively is underestimated. Designing and documenting enhanced processes doesn't create value for the business. It's only when these new procedures are performed in the actual world that value is created.
If we use the popular metaphor that compares a company with an orchestra, you can have the best musicians (workers ) enjoying the best instruments (software systems) together with the music scores (procedures ) in order. Value appears when they begin playing together in a coordinated fashion.
The aim of the majority of Business Process Reengineering (BPR) projects is to raise the quality of goods and services generated, to lower prices, to decrease development time, to increase customer satisfaction, etc.. . In the bottom line what you will need to realize is that people work in a brand new and more efficient manner.
The achievement of a BPR effort, especially when procedure are carried out by individuals, is therefore highly dependent on people's understanding of the following theories:
* Who. The individual in charge of each task in the process has to be clear. It has to be clear who is accountable for every activity.
* What. The features that the output of this action must conform to. The value it adds to the process object.
* How. The way by which the job must be performed must be clearly understood and made explicit (recorded ) together with the essential level of detail. It's necessary that this set of descriptions and directions are simple to upgrade, so best practices and lessons learned can be integrated and widely employed.
* When. Which actions precede and follow the job.
* Where the action is performed.
The value of efficiently deploying a procedure is also determined by the amount of persons which are following the procedure. The greater the number is, the greater value an efficient installation provides. Consider the claim processing department of an insurance carrier, people analyzing mortgage asks in a commercial bank or a major call center. These units normally have a fantastic number of individuals executing the same procedure.
The aim is that people executing the procedure perform it as close as possible to this new version of the procedure, at the shortest possible time period. Both of these variables are very important to create value and also to recover the resources spent in reengineering the procedure.
A few of the practices that may contribute to this objective include making the processes readily available in a format which facilitates its appearance upward, training, controlling, incentivating process compliance, etc.. .
But applying this techniques is not a synonym for success.
The actual challenge is to find participant buy in. These is were cultural and social factors have to be taken into account, and change management, knowledge management, management of expectations, etc.. . come into play.
Experience shows, particularly with knowledge workers, that involving procedure participants in decisions which affect them, ensuring they are well informed and making them feel that their view has been taken into consideration, is more powerful than forcing them to follow the new procedures. Although there are a few instances were strict discipline must be used to enforce compliance with the procedure, it's typically better to reward excellent attitudes than to punish non compliance.
Once the procedure is being carried out after the new process it's also extremely important to allow feedback to the machine. Procedure participants' opinions are very important to improve the process and it's very likely that they have some excellent suggestions to improve it. By way of instance, performing a particular task in a means which could be institutionalized as a best practice, integrated to the procedure and deployed to each participant in the procedure.