As a COO or Head of Operations, you’ll constantly be looking to identify, design and then deliver tactical and strategic change initiatives that lead to tangible improvements for your organisation, typically efficiency gains.
The challenge, of course, is pinpointing where to target these improvement programmes. While some process challenges and their causes will be obvious, others will be less so, and it’s important you can accurately identify what these less visible issues are. This means you need a thorough understanding of your existing processes. What does each end-to-end process look like? What needs to happen at each stage? Who is responsible? Where are things going amiss? How do you predict and manage volume? How do you ‘sense’ the performance of your business, such that you can make timely interventions to ensure optimum performance? Being able to visualise insights such as these enables you to select when, where and how to intervene.
Once you decide to make a change, you then need some way of forecasting its likely impact. This will help you decide whether the initiative is worth pursuing.
These requirements may sound straightforward enough, but the reality is somewhat different.
The need for a real-time view of your business processes
While most organisations will have a broad understanding of what their most important processes look like and the key dependencies, few have a granular and real-time view of each complete, end-to-end process. This lack of oversight can make it impossible to measure the key performance indicators (KPIs) that tell you where in your operations you need to make changes.
This is where event-driven business process management (EDBPM) software can be enormously helpful. This type of platform becomes the central nervous system for your business, ‘sensing’ process interactions and visualising blockers in workflows that affect the performance of your business. You use it to map out and coordinate your business processes, pulling in data from relevant systems around your organisation, so you can detect in real time exactly what’s happening anywhere in a process. As a result, you have a live, centralised overview of how your business is running, and the KPIs to show where you need to focus your improvement initiatives.
The other thing to look for in a business process management platform is the ability to prototype potential future processes in a way that enables you to step through and refine them before you actually implement them. What’s a reasonable amount of time for each step to take before someone is sent a reminder or the task is escalated? What happens if someone’s not available – are there alternatives? What volume of work can be handled by the resources you have in place, and when should you increase or decrease these resources in order to maintain optimum business throughput?
Being able to do this will give you a much deeper and more realistic understanding of the likely effect of a change than simply drawing the proposed process on a whiteboard or using flow-chart software. It could ultimately save you the cost and disruption of implementing a process change that ends up proving fruitless, or that has unwanted side-effects that outweigh the benefits.
Measure your results
And the great thing about having an EDBPM system in place is that once you’ve identified, designed and rolled out each change, you’ve already got the means by which to measure its success. The same KPIs you used to identify there was a problem in the first place will still be available, and will tell you whether your transformation programme has achieved the improvements you wanted to see.
Enabling targeted business change
Consequently, a correctly implemented EDBPM system can be a real enabler of targeted change that makes a genuine difference to the business. By giving COOs and their operations teams an overview of exactly where current processes are falling short, EDBPM software makes it easy to see where to intervene.
The proposed intervention can then be prototyped, to show whether it’s likely to achieve the desired improvements for the business. Modelling and stepping through the proposed new process in this way is much cheaper and less risky than simply implementing the change and hoping it delivers. And thanks to the KPIs that EDBPM software enables you to surface, you can then keep your finger on the pulse to ensure any change programme you implement actually achieves the desired outcome.