Since 2020 we have witnessed extraordinary change as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has caused governments, organisations and businesses worldwide to take a good, hard look at how they do things, and the processes that promote or delay outcomes. Ultimately, it’s about how execution at the process level can support business strategy and make the organisation more resilient, more competitive, and prepared for change. As conditions shift, unchallenged and outdated processes can work against an organisation.
Workforce changes that include remote and hybrid working will continue to present new challenges for global organisations — as they look at better ways to manage and engage distributed workforces at optimal cost — while delivering high quality and high performance.
An inability to suitably adapt to change can negatively impact customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and competitive positioning. Where effectively utilised, business processes have been shown to be a consistent driver in achieving goals. A readiness and enthusiasm towards change is the first step towards becoming a future-ready business.
According to Colm Heaney, Excellence Design and Technology Director at Covalen "One consistent thing over the last few decades is an increase in the velocity of change. Companies need to not only be able to keep the pace with change at a faster and faster rate, but also be versatile enough to welcome not only the opportunities but even the inevitable challenges, that will present themselves".
It’s an ongoing and never-ending capability to adapt, develop and evolve that is needed.
Colm HeaneyExcellence Design & Technology Director, Covalen.
How do inefficient processes impact outcomes?
If the source of an inefficient process is overlooked or misunderstood, it will continue to impact the organisation and may cause significant slowdowns that the company is completely unaware of. The execution of various inefficient processes can continue for years unnoticed with far-reaching financial losses. Only when key processes are examined and subsequently identified as problematic will the company feel motivated to make changes. Ultimately, a lack of process visibility can increase risk, reduce trust and hinder growth.
The importance of flexible, innovative process design.
Process design in agile, adaptive organisations is more focused on flexibility and learning than stability and permanence. These agile, flexible organisations tend to have high levels of innovation based on testing and learning as they constantly strive to find ways of doing things better.
Colm advises “Standard and repeating processes like onboarding, payroll, etc. are consistently providing feedback, and so there is a lot of data available to look for ways to optimise on an ongoing basis. While we don’t want to lose the repetitive and consistent results delivered by a good process, it is possible and wise to build opportunities for learning and process development directly into the process itself. This doesn’t have to be complex — simple real-time reporting can provide a lot of insightful data that can be used to improve a process, with minimal, if any, disruption.”
It is possible and wise to build opportunities for learning and process development directly into the process itself.
Colm HeaneyExcellence Design & Technology Director, Covalen.
A flexible organisation will be willing to test new processes, even when the old processes seem to work just fine as they continually look for ways to increase efficiencies. To support change, processes need to be flexible. Real-world processes come up against external forces and sudden events.
An ideal process doesn’t necessarily anticipate a full set of external impacts — rather when flexibility is built into the design — the process can be modified in real-time as events occur. An ideal process isn’t a rigid process where all of the steps are exact throughout. Determining the right level of design authority and flexibility is key to making a process resilient through learning, innovation, and adherence.
Resilience indicates the ability to quickly recover from a difficult event and adapt to changing situations. Every process documented in a pre-Covid business landscape should be revisited to determine the adaptations needed to succeed in uncertain times. Process resilience is vital for industries that are highly regulated, customer / end-user focused, or internet service-based because inefficient communications and workflows can be detrimental to product and service delivery.
Business Process Excellence
Business Process Excellence is about systematically improving processes and making them more efficient and effective through design and testing with the goal of improving how work is performed. The key objective is to deliver consistent, positive outcomes with minimal variation and waste — utilising key resources, technology and automation.
The accurate and repeatable arrangement of internal processes is vital to the growth of any company, regardless of size or industry, and especially relevant for organisations that are required to meet external compliance procedures and regulations.
Here are some of the benefits of process excellence design:
- Ability to plan, map and document how to reach business goals
- Easily identify the resources needed to achieve a task
- Reduces time wasted in figuring out how to complete tasks
- Provides clear responsibility and accountability for managing key activities
- Important procedures become standardised throughout business units
- Increases performance with an efficient route to outcomes
- Ability to measure and analyse the capability of key activities
- Enables efficient communication and collaboration between people, functions and departments
- Offers focused and prioritised opportunities for increased operational efficiencies
- Provides improved, consistent and predictable results
- Highlights risk evaluation opportunities
- Reduces errors, lowers costs and promotes shorter cycles with effective use of resources
What are some key business processes to consider?
Business processes are a steady way of framing “how we do things around here” helping to produce desired outcomes. Rather than taking the view of global standardisation, creating standard processes per field or function such as HR, service quality, and compliance can have a positive impact on performance and efficiency.
- HR Processes – recruitment, onboarding, training, performance management, employee engagement.
- Service quality processes – identification of customer needs, feedback, clear KPI’s, continuous improvement.
- Compliance processes - laws and regulations, audits, security control, continuous monitoring.
What key business processes or functions will continue to be outsourced in the coming years?
The Sales Process
To remain competitive, the sales process is crucial to guiding and supporting the sales function on how to respond to customers at any given stage of the buyer’s journey. Within each stage there are several processes that can be defined and documented to support high performance and results. Sales processes include lead qualification, pitching and presenting, up-selling and cross-selling, and sales KPI’s.
The Customer Service Process
Customer services need to be responsive and reliable regardless of economic events. This is crucial to building brand trust. Today, customers demand comprehensive contact centre services with omnichannel capabilities to meet them where they are. Some key processes include ticket sorting and routing, escalations, complaints, customer feedback data extraction, and customer service KPI’s.
Back-office Administration Processes
Back office administration includes Human Resources (HR), risk management, regulatory compliance, insurance claims and settlements, document processing, finance and accounting. Back-office processes have a major impact on business operations from hiring and retaining key talent to utilising effective data and systems to support efficiency gains, customer retention and business growth. Specific processes include identification and verification, billing and invoicing, collections, payroll management, order management and contract management.
From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, businesses of all sizes across the globe outsource their processes. As the demand for outsourcing continues to grow with organisations introducing new and innovative services — it is clear that a trusted outsourcing provider can add considerable value by offering the infrastructure, location, domain expertise and skilled resources to satisfy complex business and regulatory needs.
Given that conditions can change at any moment, organisations need to ensure the capacity to adapt to changes. This can mean revisiting and evaluating business processes or implementing new processes to deliver measurable results.