Thursday, August 7, 2014

Competitive Battles Coming: Choose Your Process Weapons Carefully

In the near future your organization will compete at a much higher level, so get ready for a battle. Organizations are represented by their processes that engage customers, employees, partners, stakeholders and the community they operate in on a regular basis. These processes represent the organizations face to each of these constituents. Processes have proven to help organizations operate efficiently at a lower cost, raise revenue in competitive markets and deliver innovation in the hands of business visionaries. Needless to say processes and the cases they operate on have a great contribution to more desirable outcomes. It is important to understand your current processes, at a minimum, to make sure they optimize results against your competition. At a maximum, target processes plus transitional plans to get to the target processes for differentiating organizations should be mapped with along with incremental improvements along the way. Choosing the right process approaches will make a difference. Enumerated below are five approaches that can be used alone or in combination:

Buy a Best Practice Process:

Quite often you can buy processes that are pre-built best practices in packages that are built on rigid platforms with some pre-configured options. While these promise to deliver quick time to market results, they tend to be costly and long running efforts. I think these are best for non-differentiating processes that are not likely to change. These processes tend to be more functional in nature, but there are some "end to end" processes. The change management issues are very challenging with this approach. 

Buy a Jump Start Process on an Agile BPM Platform:

Buying a process that solves 80% plus of your organizations needs that is easily upgraded and combined with other sub processes in an "end to end" process makes good sense where your differentiation is easily added to a core process. The source of these are sometimes package like vendors that have a reasonably flexible process capability. Most of the time these come from flexible BPM platforms that have evolved to have significant differentiating features, content and knowledge. The time to market here is faster than packages. 

Merge with an Organization with Proven Processes:

I have seen savvy organizations target acquisitions around processes plus business model as a top priority over adding immediate customer base. This has worked out to add new customers incrementally through business and process model differentiation. This is a quick approach, but you need deep pockets. There is also a huge amount of change management issues that emerge that are a bit messy as well. 

Wrap Existing Assets with Differentiating Processes:

Quite often organizations are stuck with legacy applications, packages and even old BPM capabilities. Some that functionality is fine as it is, but new differentiating contexts need to be added to make them viable going forward in the ultra competitive environment we face today. Existing assets should be inventoried and rated for changeability, behavior and inclusion in hybrid contexts. 

Incrementally Transform Your Current Processes:

Organizations that are savvy do not necessarily go for the big bang, but they plan out the evolution of their battle plan. They choose the most flexible approaches to match their need for change. Starting with smaller scale process focused projects with big benefits that can fund further differentiating efforts is a smart way to evolve to a desirable end game. The more flexible the technical infrastructure, the more success will be enabled. Smart and flexible BPM platforms play well here. 

Net; Net: 

While I wish processes that produce innovation, advantage and growth opportunities could be listed as assets on a balance sheet, the reality is that processes are often the secret sauce of competition for results on the income statement and the balance sheet. Remember that picking the right assembly of process approaches will make a big difference of the mid to long term. All of these approaches have proven to work in the right situation, so know your foe to pick the very best combination of weapons. 

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