Business Processes Design – Mapping and Redesign
I recently ran a one-day seminar on Navigating Turbulent Times in which one of the key subjects was Business Process Efficiency. I based most of that session around the opportunities that are available from taking advantage of the digital and internet age we live in, and new tools that give us the ability to map and run live business process simulations in order to find new models of process efficiency.
The Competitive Landscape has Changed
With the development of the web and information technologies through the 90’s the business world has had the opportunity to rethink process design. Changes in business model possibilities, logistics and money controls have been harnessed by many countries to develop new competitive advantages in global markets. However my observation of many SMEs and some larger businesses in New Zealand is that there is a general malady in the area of business process design. The World Economic Forum’s annual analysis of our global competitiveness (www.weforum.org) shows a slow uptake of technology by New Zealand firms in comparison to our competitors, and that we have in fact a competitive disadvantage arising from a lack of process sophistication.
Ten Principles of Business Process Redesign for e-Business
The following ten principles form a great set of steps towards competing on speed, cost and customer satisfaction by upgrading your process designs.
- Streamline (remove waste, simplify, and consolidate similar activities)
- Lose wait (eliminate waiting time between process stages)
- Orchestrate (outsource/insource to the most efficient enterprise or operator)
- Mass customise (any time, any place, any way)
- Synchronise (run physical and electronic processes side by side)
- Digitise and propagate (capture information once at the source and spread it throughout the process)
- Vitrify (provide process reports in real time with full data)
- Sensitise (build in automated sensors for monitoring and feedback on the process performance)
- Connect, collect and analyse (leverage process data and information into valuable business knowledge, and apply it to the design of superior products and services)
- Personalise (make the process intimate with the preferences and habits of users of the process)
(see El Sawy, O. A., “Redesigning Enterprise Processes for e-Business” McGraw-Hill, 2001)
The First Step – Process Mapping
To understand how the human body works you have to see all of its parts, systems and functions; and how they are all connected together in one integrated system that allows the biology of the body to function as a ‘whole’. Understanding how a business functions requires the same holistic view of all the parts and their interconnectivity. The problem in many businesses is that there is often no understanding of the whole business process picture. Each person or work group might understand the part that they do, but no one has a whole-company/whole-process view.
The answer is to use process mapping software to create diagrams of each process and its connection to others. Common products to do this are Aris (IDS Scheer), Sharepoint Designer and Visual Studio (Microsoft), and iGrafx (Corel Inc.) The diagram below (Fig 1.) shows an iGrafx process map for a simple Order Fulfilment Process that involves the customer, three process stages and four company departments.