Do you feel like your operations are inefficient and difficult to scale? Is your organization siloed, stuck in a rut, and repeating the same mistakes over-and-over again? Are your stakeholders and customers unhappy?
If you are experiencing any of these signs, it may be time to transform your business processes.
Business processes form the backbone of any organization. They are effective when they automate routine activities, enable efficiency, and streamline associated and inter-dependent operations. When leaders no longer feel like their organization is reaching its potential, business process improvement may be needed to help get it back on track and be more competitive.
In order to better understand if you need to re-visit and re-tune your business processes, here are the three tell-tale signs it is time for business transformation:
1. Are your current operations inefficient and difficult to scale?
Leaders often find their business processes hampered by siloed, difficult-to-use business systems that add complexity and impede efficiency. These inefficiencies make it more difficult for an organization to retain their competitive edge. They also frustrate efforts to integrate siloed teams and manage daily workflow without disrupting business operations.
Inefficient business processes can be characterized in several ways:
- Siloed - A business process that is not integrated into an organizations overall processes. Modifying these processes often requires frequent human intervention. Without intervention, these processes cause process delays and increase the likelihood of human error impacting outcomes. They also have a tendency to drain valuable resources and disrupt organizational cohesiveness.
- Manual - A business process requiring repetitive and tedious hand-jammed manual input to produce an output.
- Overly Complex - A business process that due to its complexity is difficult to understand and time consuming to execute.
- Poorly Defined - A business process that is difficult to scale and prohibits the use of computer assisted data management. Also characterized as inflexible, and requires frequent major overhauls to adapt to changing conditions.
- Decision Based - Business processes that require frequent decisions to be made in-order to complete the process. These processes may involve complex decision trees or require exceptions that can only be made by a designated decision maker.
Inefficient business practices are often the primary reason organizations struggle to adapt to new requirements and changing circumstances. Integrated, automated, simple, well-defined, and empowered business processes are critical for agility. They allow for quick adaption to evolving business needs and unlock productivity.
2. Is outdated technology contributing data siloes, bottle necks, increased manual intervention, and gaps in end-to-end processes?
Relying on outdated technology can lead to poor systems integration and trap an organization into using unproductive business processes. Organizations that have been late to modernize their IT systems often find themselves lagging behind in being able to streamline their processes and technology with the emerging needs of their employees. This in turn can create data silos, productivity issues, and process bottlenecks.
Instead of data serving as a valuable asset to enable informed decision making, old systems become dysfunctional and limit an organization's ability to meaningfully contribute to more sophisticated objectives and goals. Additionally, siloed data and the lack of effective data integration across systems can create process delays that decrease efficiency.
Organizations frequently overlook the source of their process delays because they often underestimate the impact of outdated technology. Routine reviews of the impact of new technology on an organization's business processes will enable the identification of opportunities that should allow for competitive out-performance.
3. Are your stakeholders and customers unhappy?
If the needs and demands of your stakeholders and customers are not being met, or are falling short, it is likely that your business processes could use improvement. A customer focused mindset that gives you a direct feedback loop (via customer experience surveys and verbal feedback), can often be helpful in gauging customer satisfaction and identifying problem areas.
While avoiding these surveys may allow you to hide evidence of inefficiency, it will not help you improve stakeholder and customer satisfaction. It will also undermine the collection of useful information that may help you improve.
When identifying whether a customer-centric business process may require transformation, a good starting point could be to evaluate the touchpoints that are not being addressed or those that are not delivering adequate value to your customer.
Dissatisfaction could be due to delays in a process, reliance on unreliable or stale data, a broken process, unsupported requirements, or all of the above. Before attempting to transform these types of business process issues, be sure to first interview a large enough sample of your stakeholder or customer base. This will allow you to develop a more complete understanding of the problem, which will come in handy when identifying those factors that will best enable the improvement of your business processes.
So, What Should You Do?
There could be many signs or reasons that would warrant the need to transform your organization's business processes. The most common sign is that something in your organization is not working anymore, or is just inefficient.
The potential costs to organizations that continue to use antiquated or ineffective business processes can manifest in several ways and can adversely impact the bottom line.
Therefore, organizations that want to remain competitive should adopt methods that continuously monitor the effectiveness of their business processes, and should also be ready to transform them. Successful transformation efforts can be aided by establishing assessment frameworks (KPI Score Cards and Dashboards) that provide transparency and openness. Having a lens to measure effectiveness and performance will enable leaders to know when it is the right time to make a change, well before inefficiency, outdated technology, and stakeholder dis-satisfaction impacts the bottom line.