Does Your Top-Level Business Strategy Include Business Process Management?
By Mike Raia Posted October 27, 2020
By aligning the processes and systems to the business strategy, we can make sure that everyone in the organization contributes to the same goals.
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A business strategy is how a company sets out its mission, vision, and policies to achieve its desired objectives. It can simply be described as a long-term business plan concerned with the scope of a business's activities. But strategies most often fail because they are not well executed.
One of the primary reasons for the failure is that companies cannot consistently balance right between having a clear vision that everyone in the organization understands and supported by the right systems and processes to achieve the results that leadership wants.
Getting Strategy and Processes in Alignment
By aligning the processes and systems to the business strategy, we can make sure that everyone in the organization contributes to the same goals. It is the use of processes and systems in the organization, combined with the skill of employees, that create and deliver value to its customers.
- So, where are these processes and systems? Do we have a good understanding of them, who owns them, and who is responsible for them?
We all know that in building a house, you start with a blueprint of the design, and by applying technology, we will assess what the house will look like in 3D visuals from every external angle and by each room, making changes/refinements until we have the perfect design. We will pay for expert advice on the layout, looks, and facilities such as bathrooms, kitchens, and landscape designs. We do all this before we even set foot on the building plot. The design becomes our master to visualize, but we will use it during the build process to ensure that actual construction is aligned to our plan's visualization.
In business, the efforts of the organization are focused on the visible, tangible elements such as:
- A product or service, it can sell
- Resources, the skills, and funding to run the business
- Customers who are willing to buy
And quite rightly so, as these are all ingredients for a successful business. But there is one element that is equally as important but not so easily visible: the processes and systems that underpin all these areas.
Getting Your House in Order
If we go back to our house design, we can visualize the house (create a digital twin) and recognize the benefits of doing so by applying CAD technology. When we stand back in business, we do recognize that our processes and systems are an essential element, but we do not always have the tools to visualize and bring them to our attention on an equal basis to the other areas such as customer products and resources.
Businesses seek to improve and optimize business processes continually. Through a variety of methods and technologies, they want to optimize the way their work is performed. Most businesses recognize this because it leads to:
- Better quality - right the first time
- Efficiency by having a streamlined process that cuts across departmental boundaries,
- Lower costs by reducing the waste and eliminating the non-value adding activities
- Improved customer satisfaction.
This improvement approach is termed 'Process Excellence.' It is concerned with the process itself – making processes more efficient and effective through design and testing. The main goal is to deliver consistent, positive outcomes with minimal variation and waste.
Under this approach, we refer to a wide variety of methodologies, such as:
Committing to Process Improvement
In leading global organizations linking process improvement with top-level business strategy ranks as the number one priority for businesses and is seen as the biggest challenge. However, a significant proportion of companies find it challenging to commit adequate resources and investment for process improvement.
One of the problems is that many names exist for process excellence approaches and methodologies, and this "brand confusion" may contribute to a lack of general awareness of process improvement as a core capability within companies.
The truth is that "process" really means "how work gets done," and work has fundamentally changed in the wake of mobile, social, cloud, and data technology disruptions and even more so with the impact of COVID-19 where remote working has become the norm.
Business leaders who see opportunity in change need to recognize:
- Embracing new ways of doing business
- Creating new revenue streams
- Driving mobile engagement with customers
- Increasing collaboration among employees, clients, suppliers, and stakeholders
Process Transformation with Technology
All these areas require process transformation. New technologies offer little business value if disconnected from actual work. To fully understand and tune the way work gets done in alignment with overall business strategy, organizations need a new approach to capture and automate their unique competitive advantage quickly.
This could be done through a relatively new breed of business process management (BPM) cloud-based, enterprise-level application platforms. These can revolutionize software development and thus become a portal for the company's business processes. Through a model-based approach, companies are no longer dragged down by the limitations of traditional software applications. Process applications built on such a platform are modern, affordable, and easily interface with other systems. When such a platform is hosted in the cloud (Platform-as-a-Service), the benefits are even more significant. These benefits include:
- working on mobile devices as efficiently as working on a desktop
- working from home or a café as equally as from the office.
All this portability and use at any place is at no extra cost. Application platforms will transform the way BPM software is delivered and used and, more importantly, realize many new ways of getting work done.
Looking Further into the Future
As we look to the future, the advent of BPM methodology and the supporting software tools allow us to visualize our processes and streamline and refine them to give our customers more efficient and agile outcomes and ultimately for the business.
For mature BPM users, there is already a new wave of opportunity on the horizon in Robotic Process Automation (RPA). We already see RPA utilization pockets, but this is set to increase as RPA begins to address a complete end-to-end process. Indeed, BPM tools will become more refined and sophisticated to cover full roles and more usage processes.
In summary, BPM tools will visualize the company's business processes and systems, and this should be considered as one of the enablers for executing the business strategy.
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