At the base of any IT initiative, there is the need of profitability for the company, this is the objective. And this goal is facilitated by IT, mainly through the implementation of more or less automated processes.
Business processes are as varied as there are business sectors and departments in companies. And the role of IT in most processes is mainly driven by automation and optimization. Ranging from the automation of simple and repetitive tasks to that of complex calculations, all running between multiple systems, multiple entities and users; this generates complex processes, often heavy, and not always effective.
In short, there is a need to get back to the basics and re-examine business processes to evaluate their performance; now, more than ever!
Why reassess business processes?
There are many reasons to re-evaluate the performance of business processes, but the fact is that while this will require a good investment, the exercise is necessary.
Here are the main reasons to reassess business processes:
- Be more competitive
- Manage growth
- To comply to standards and / or new regulations
- To reduce costs
- To achieve corporate objectives
- To manage obsolescence (technological update)
- To optimize … (users / customers complain about …)
It is important to define the objectives to be achieved in a project “Process Cycle Optimization”. A good way to do this is to initially define the key performance indicators to be measured once the project is completed. For example, this could be a maximum of X hours between a customer’s submission request and the proposal.
Business Process Mapping
Thus, it is important to revise a process from the basic elements and to categorize for each of them what is necessary, superfluous or harmful to the process. A good way to do this is to use the MUSCOW method (Must, Should, Could, Want (or not)). As for the elements, categorizing them as follows, it makes it easier to conceptualize the process to be optimized.
- Process / Treatment
Nature of earnings / gains
A company may want to make significant gains in terms of security, performance, business intelligence, competitiveness, etc., when optimizing a process.
Analyzing the process, its strengths and weaknesses, is often a good way to optimize a process and achieve the expected gains:
- Decomposition of the process itself
- Number of Stages
- Nature of the Stages (manual and automated tasks, manual and automated calculations, etc.)
- Gap between Stages
- Precedence of Stages
- Quantity and Quality of Inputs
- Quantity and Quality of Outputs
- Time (duration of each stage of the complete cycle)
- Level of process integration (Use of different systems, Non-repetition of data …)
Nature of losses and / or obstacles
It is said that the best defense is the attack. In the case of processes, we could do the same type of reasoning and say that the greatest gains are often made simply by tackling the problems.
Here is a brief overview of the main types of issues that must be kept in mind when analyzing a process to be optimized.
- Need for a given stage
- What is its purpose?
- What are the outputs?
- Quality of inputs
- Quality of outputs
- Are all data and resources available to generate good outputs?
- Wrong outputs
- Quality of processing
- Do the algorithms used generate the right results? All the time?
- Does the processing meet the standards and regulations?
- Waiting time – idle time during which a task or person is waiting for information
- Over-processing – process calls tasks or produces unnecessary information at a given time, and / or that does not add value to the final deliverable
- Movement – movement of people or information that does not add value to the final deliverable
- Mistakes – failure to meet deliverable specifications such as corrections; or process revisions are required to achieve desired results
Examples of gains generated by optimizing a process cycle
An example that Analystik is proud of is the automation and optimization of the equipment financing process at GE Capital Canada. The exercise resulted in a tailor-made ERP integrating a tailor-made CRM, a quotation module and a legal documentation generation module (underwriting).
With this ERP, GE Capital Canada has reduced the cycle of its financing process from 4 weeks to 2 days, which has set the bar very high for its competitors that representatives of GE Capital have completely dominated since.
Another very common example nowadays is the loan or insurance quote application that now run on mobile and can generate a quote almost in real time.
We do not stop progress as they say.
And the fact is, that the underlying trend of automation and process optimization leads us towards the elimination of the intermediate stages and, inexorably, towards the elimination of the intermediaries themselves, that is to say, us!
This inescapable trend will only get worse with the massive influx of Artificial Intelligence services and APIs, for better or for worse.
The most recent projections predict that more than 65% of current positions will no longer exist when your child enters the work force.
Over the last 20 years, many transactions and sales that were executed from Person-to-Person, became Desktop to Desktop and are now executed Mobile to Mobile and that, often for transactions that were thought impossible to automate!
So, if you already have a specialist in IT Project Management; what is the process that should be automated or optimized in your business?