You may have read my previous article where I introduced the analogy of Business Process Management and Optimisation in parallel with Home Renovations. If not, you may want to read the article for more context.
First things first, you are about to start a business process optimisation exercise at your organisation, or in my case the renovation of our house. Whether this entails modelling and transforming your entire business, from operating model and value chain, down to business processes and activities (in the renovation context, a complete facelift of the house) or just the analysis, optimisation and automation of specific processes (upgrading one room), the journey will be somewhat similar.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail
As with good home renovation, you begin with Planning, how and when it will be best to undertake a business process optimisation project. It is very important to consider how to execute the project with limited impact on operations and the bottom-line, while ensuring the benefits are lasting. Each business will be different, but often the long-term returns on investment will far outweigh the immediate costs, financial and otherwise.
Carefully considered sourcing will save you time, money and frustration
As to Sourcing, it is my fervent belief that the best resources you have to undertake the majority of the early tasks, with some guidance and coaching, are in-house. That being said you will no doubt feel the need to bring in experts to assist you. There are many consultants of varying levels of expertise, experience and certainly cost. You will be looking at firms that can assist you with business process analysis, reengineering and optimisation in addition to the automation and integration of your business processes.
My wife and I looked at the year ahead, tried to compartmentalise and phase the various components of the renovation (this included conditions in order to limit the inevitable stress on relationships). We came up with something along the following lines:
We would get the passage, living room and bedrooms done early, as these are obvious areas linked to day-to-day comfort. Having those out of the way, we could return to a somewhat normal life. After all, we didn’t want to lose sleep and miss out on the opportunity to host too many braais (barbeques).
In your business, good planning is key to limiting the impact on core functions. Once there is a view of the organisation’s operating model and you have identified the core business areas, you can perform the information-gathering and optimisation exercises in those areas and return operations to normal as quickly as possible.
The renovation analogy extends from there, once the critical areas are done and out the way, my wife and I would move on to the facilities i.e. the kitchens, bathrooms and other similar areas (which in your business equates to support services).
If you were following this journey, by now you would have modelled, truly understood, and transformed (or understood how your organisation needs to transform) its core functions, making it simpler to do the same for the support services of your business.
The requirements and extensions needed in the support services, as identified when re-engineering the core business areas, would be clear and could be better incorporated into those areas.
Now we have a high-level plan (also referred to as a Transformation Map) for our journey, and can better understand the requirements we will have for outside resources.
At the risk of extending the analogy a little far, let’s move on to sourcing. My wife and I identified that to achieve our planned approach we would do the following:
We would start the process of demolition, tiling and painting a small area ourselves, as opposed to outsourcing the jobs. This would allow us to better understand how the process would work, to estimate the time and skills required per area, and to set lines and limitations for the way forward.
Hiring tilers, plumbers and other artisans would then become a well thought-out step. We’d know what the job would entail and could identify which tasks would be better executed with our input and supervision, by professionals, for the sake of expediency and quality.
In terms of a transformation initiative, these resources would be Business Analysts (BA’s). The BA’s would begin gathering the relevant information and facilitating the transformation of your company’s operating model and processes to align better with you corporate strategy. Most importantly they would put in place the baseline for your To-Be processes, allowing the business to be far better positioned to identify what expertise would be needed.
There are many consultancies and software companies in the market who specialise in BPM and Workflow Automation. There will be a best fit for your business, the clearer your business requirements are the easier it will be to select the best candidate.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has become a real and highly competitive option to streamline and optimise your business. Identifying processes that can realistically be outsourced is often difficult, but there are BPO suppliers that specialise in exactly that and once again, having your business well modelled, documented and understood can make this a far less painful step in the journey and a huge value-add.
The journey to business process optimisation needn’t be prohibitively long or arduous, but if the planning is not well thought-out and the project is not properly executed, costs will escalate.
I cannot stress enough, it is your business, take an interest, invest yourself in this process and learn, or it will become difficult to see positive returns through the myriad of complexities down the road.