The role of Business Process Management in the midst of Transformation
Introduction – Overview
We are a family of companies, built and assembled over the years, leveraging a variety of systems, and operating at different levels of business process maturity and operational effectiveness. To help us achieve our strategic vision to be a leader in the specialty property and casualty business, we needed to transform our business practices in a way that supports investment in our people, business processes, and technology. And as a result, improves business interactions and customer service throughout our company.
Layering in the right amount of process automation and leveraging technology is a critical piece
Early on in our transformation journey we knew updating our technology and getting onto a common platform were critical components to modernizing our business. However, we also recognized implementing new technology and leveraging the capabilities that come with today’s packaged software would require a thorough understanding of how the business is being managed, a vision towards the future, and how layering in new automation capabilities could help enable the business in achieving its goals and objectives. We needed a holistic approach, so at the start, we identified the critical pillars within the organization we wanted to transform. Business process management became one of the key focus areas of our transformation.
We developed a new way of thinking. Before we used to think we need to define process before technology. Now we need to define it at the same time, so as we identified high-level system requirements, we also assessed the level of business process maturity that fit within the off the shelf software we purchased. In organizational areas where processes were less sophisticated, we kept it simple, and focused requirements around data collection, and on maturing manual process, so we could learn exactly how automation could help us. It didn’t make sense to automate a process that wasn’t yet well understood, defined, or proven. Meanwhile, organizational areas where process maturity was more advanced, we took a more sophisticated approach, and focused requirements around automating the process. In these cases we had a thorough understanding of the business processes, and options for incorporating system automation where it made sense to do so.
Balanced Approach and Change Management
Taking a balanced approach to business process management and technology enablement helped us to foster engagement from the start. This approach has kept us from over complicating or making our technology capabilities too restrictive, while at the same time we’ve been able to introduce the right amount of flexibility and change for the organization. It is important that all of the investment areas; people, process, technology all mature together, for example, if the technology is ahead of the process, there may be resistance, and adoption of any new system may be challenged. People are excited and engaged in our journey. We’re maturing our organization together, and there’s a commitment to continuously improve our business processes, a critical step in the transformation journey.
Creating Business Value
Layering in the right amount of process automation and leveraging technology is a critical piece; however, another area where business process management has helped tremendously is around understanding the current work activities from end to end, down to the individual roles. By going deep, and understanding how the business is being managed, opportunities and creativity have taken hold. We’re also testing and piloting, this is where some of the best ideas surface, when change is happing, people want to contribute. Everyone is actively engaged and focused on the following business goals: optimizing roles to gain role clarity and maturity in execution; eliminating hand-offs to remove complexity and improve productivity; collecting and utilizing data to make better and faster decisions, thereby making it easier to do business, and improving the overall customer experience.
Dedicated and Continuous
We understood the need for a dedicated and focused effort, so we formed a Business Process Improvement Practice. This team collaborates with stakeholders across the organization to understand current state, identify opportunities to mature, and ensure we’re collecting the data to manage the business going forward. For us business process management is an ongoing investment, and getting to a common platform where we can establish a baseline as well as metrics, is a critical next step. And although there’s a team dedicated to this effort, everyone across the organization has a role in business process management, and our ongoing transformation journey.
As you think about where and how business process management can be a core capability within your own organization, here are some things to consider:
• Foster engagement from leadership and employees;
• Be clear and aligned around what will be required as well as expected across the organization;
• Identify guiding principles and understand how they can help shape and align with core values, business objectives, and priorities;
• And finally, educate and focus on quantifiable actions.
With these building blocks, organizations can cultivate an exciting mindset and culture of continuous improvement and curiosity.