As businesses adopt technology to transform their business models, process transformation must follow to support the new operating model. The effort to transform processes has been underestimated. There are five prerequisites for successful process transformation.
- Clear identification of backend support requirements
With a focus on delivering improvements to the end customers, timeliness and customization have become more important than ever. They pose high expectations from the existing backend operations. For instance, backend applications need to retrieve customer data quickly in order to present relevant product offerings. Things like what data are needed from where and the turnaround time must be identified in order to facilitate execution.
- Understanding of process complexity
Process is more than who does what and when. There are conditions, rules and policies that determine the chain of actions to be carried out. Some of these decision criteria could become irrelevant to the new business model and be eliminated. Others might require tweaking or a complete overhaul. For example, a dual expense approval process could be simplified when a new business model auto-approves expenditure with a pre-approval and stays within a spending cap. A thorough understanding of the premise of the new business model and its implications on process would untangle process complexity.
- Ability to harmonize practices
Every change has a potential to add complexity. It is an opportune time to simplify, streamline, and harmonize operations as part of the transformation effort. Consistency is a key element to agility. Seek ways to standardization or harmonize the backend so that disparate practices are realigned. For instance, product returns for purchases made through different channels are handled consistently. Harmonization eliminates fragmented practices that not only frustrate the customers, but also confuse employees.
- Realistic sustainable capacity
Process transformation involves changes to roles and responsibilities. An evaluation of capacity is necessary to determine the viability of the new business model. If the resources required in the backend processes could not support the changes, choke points result. For example, a shift to online chat migrates customer inquiries away from the call centre. How feasible is it to utilize the same call centre agents to handle the online chat? Would the same resources suffice? It is important to assess the backend capacity objectively.
- Integration of systems
Systems, in a broad sense, include the intertwined workings of processes, applications, and human effort. Manual, adhoc workarounds to bridge systems gaps are productivity dampers. They are not sustainable in the long run, especially when changes are coming fast and furious. For instance, the website presents a slick web-form for collecting customer information. The captured information should feed the backend application directly. Exporting the data and have someone manually key the data into the backend application is inefficient and error-prone. Investment in the integration is crucial to success.
Processes support the delivery of the final product to the customer. Successful process transformation is a necessity for a sound business transformation.