Burning Platforms

A prospective client shared the hidden costs of ‘normal’ process management.

This is a back-office function of 4k people within in a global organization of 100k+ people. This particular division is changing fast, like most back offices.  Its transformation team set up almost 40 major change projects last year – covering offshoring, outsourcing, systems consolidation, shared services, organizational restructuring and Lean initiatives.

Every one of those change projects started with a process capture phase.  Typically 2 FTE take 4 weeks to define the current processes in detail, as the start point for managing change.

That’s roughly 6 FTE full-time employed on capturing the As-Is processes. Scale it up across the organization and that’s around 150 FTE employed full-time in capturing the current processes as the start point for managing change.

Downstream, after the As-Is processes have been defined, there’s probably much more waste – and risk – in how the To-Be processes are designed, analysed and implemented.

But it’s ‘the way things have always been’. For busy execs there’s no burning platform. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that adopting Nimbus as an enterprise process platform looks like ‘additional time and effort, that we don’t have, to achieve a nice-to-have’.

Bring out the hidden costs though and it’s easy to re-frame it, correctly, as an investment of the existing time and effort into building a joined-up, comprehensive and real-time view of the business, and a flame-proof platform for sustainable improvement.

Related Posts

29 Jan 2013    Process Resistance

11 Dec 2012    Process Management And Google Maps

© Text Michael Gammage 2013

When Process Standardisation Backfires

Current orthodoxy is that process standardization is a Good Thing.

People are committing enormous resources to programmes to deliver global processes supported by a common toolset. It’s driving business transformation across every industry and region.

Process standardization is a fine idea.  But the heretical truth is that, as in everything, it’s the ability to execute that counts.

A standardization program can unlock game-changing efficiency savings and service improvements. But pitfalls abound:

It becomes IT-led. IT systems are at the heart of most major programmes. Too often IT takes the wheel, leaving business stakeholders in the back seat. And so a business transformation program morphs into an IT project.

Out-of-scope impacts are missed.  Costs ‘saved’ in one standardization project re-surface as incremental ‘work-around’ costs in other parts of the organization.

The voice of the customer is muted.  Standardization delivers efficiency savings but at the cost of the customer experience.

Process variants are concreted in. There is a one-time negotiation instead of a framework that enables variants to be continually re-optimized, reflecting developments in global best practices and changes in business units’ requirements.

The benefits aren’t sustained. The change doesn’t stick. Gartner termed it ‘organizational snap-back’. McKinsey published an estimate that only 10% of cost reduction programmes showed sustained results three years later.

It’s time for a reality check.  I can’t be the only one who’s seeing projects with hidden costs and flaky benefits pedestalized because they are delivering ‘standard global processes’?

Without a platform for effective collaboration among the stakeholders, and a complete understanding of the big picture, there are very significant risks that the benefits of any standardization initiative will be mythical. And without a means to deploy process content in a way that ensures real adoption, the opportunity for ongoing collaborative innovation is missed.

Related Posts

13 Dec 2012    The Universal Business Language: Process

19 Nov 2012    No Other Corporate Asset Is Wasted So Spectacularly

© Text Michael Gammage 2013

No Other Corporate Asset Is Wasted So Spectacularly

Another week, another client struggling with process amnesia.

I’m looking at an RFP from a household name with “no process documentation available” with respect to its core financial system and the business processes it enables. Last week, I was involved with a global organisation that had thrown out a well-known SI after wasting (their word, not mine) a considerable sum trying to capture their core processes. Next week, I’m working with a client in the energy sector with a complex and ageing system in urgent need of upgrading, but with almost no understanding of how the system works or how it connects with their business processes (which seem to be largely anecdotal anyway).

Ignition of match, with smoke on blackMany organizations – and we’re talking big and global, oftentimes – are repeat offenders. Their binge cultures make them ATMs for the Big 4. They spend millions on a mapping project but the processes are never adopted, and the organizations have only the most feeble mechanisms to maintain them, and so, two years later, a new mapping project kicks off.

It’s true that Nimbus clients generally migrate out of any other process format or tool, which also waste of a sort. One client ditched man-years of process capture of its European finance operations undertaken by one of the Big 4 – but it pays off in adoption and sustainability.

Put to one side the missed opportunities from not taking process excellence more seriously –  minor things like, er, avoiding IT project failures or success in multisourcing – just at the very simplest level of avoiding unnecessary costs: Is there any other corporate asset where waste on the scale that is considered normal in ‘process management’ would be tolerated?

Things are changing but, really, how did ‘process’ get such a bad rap? It’s the DNA of the organization, for goodness sake. How did we get to a situation where it’s considered unremarkable that an organization cannot describe its business processes, or how they are supported by its systems?

There’s a doctoral thesis for someone in all this. Not sure whether it’s a tragedy or a comedy.

Related Posts

05 Sep 2012    Translating An Operating Model Into Real Work

28 Aug 2012    The ROI On Process Visualization

© Text Michael Gammage 2012