Connect with us

Business Process Management

Business excellence: why sound business methods fail so often

Published

on

It is right that we should invest considerable time and effort learning new methods and approaches to manage business, but we must take great care never to confuse the method with the purpose.

While it can be enjoyable and satisfying to learn and employ a particular method, we must take care not to lose ourselves in it. If we do, we can easily lose sight of why we adopted it in the first place.

Confusing the problem with the solution

Methods such as Agile, Lean, SAFe and Six Sigma are enablers – means to ends. But all too often, the method itself seems to take on a life of its own – and then in the eyes of the business, it actually becomes the purpose.

Once we adopt a method and have everyone in the business using it, we can easily become dazzled by its seemingly hard-edged measurements. In Lean, we count the number of Kaizen events we have up; in Six Sigma we count the number of Green and Black Belts, all as if this has actually replaced business outcomes as our main purpose.

With our focus firmly on the tools we are using, our business objectives have now almost become immaterial and before we know it, our desired business outcomes are just assumed. And what an assumption!

Method for method’s sake

People can become enamored and seduced by the idea of becoming a practitioner of note in a particular method – Lean, Agile, SAFe and so on. There is great pride in becoming a certified practitioner in the method, but for what? This is like someone who is learning to drive, but never leaves the car park.

In the early days of Lean, organizations would visit Toyota to observe the tools, the methods and the training at first hand. Then when they took these things back and tried to implement them in their own organizations they would wonder why they had difficulty getting them to work. And the reason they didn’t work? Because there had been no attempt to link the methods to specific business problems and outcomes.

What are we seeing? The scaffolding – or the building?

Lean, Agile or SAFe – it is easy to look at a business through the lens of the method instead of looking at the business to determine the most appropriate methods to use. This is like looking at a building, seeing the scaffolding and confusing it for the building itself. The skills in erecting and deploying the scaffolding are different from the skills in constructing the building. When you have erected the scaffolding, your work is still ahead of you.

Mastery of the scaffolding, or the method, is not what makes a business successful. Success is about being good enough at the basic things and combining activities in such a way that the business operates well.

Get this scaffolding issue wrong, and you’ll end up with no building – just a lot of rusting iron that falls apart in a strong wind.

Your building, your scaffolding

Trying to combine one type of method with another can be disastrously counter-productive. Some companies, for example, have attempted to combine Six Sigma with Lean and ended up with nothing more than a Frankenstein’s monster that gives them the worst of both possible worlds.

This is why it so important to keep the problem always to the fore and then adopt the methods and practices that best suit the culture and circumstances of the business. Trying to use somebody else’s scaffolding to construct a building unsuited to the business is madness itself.

Different methods do different jobs and they have been designed to engage people in very different ways. Throw these things together and you end up with a Jurassic Park-style mix of men and dinosaurs.

Due consideration must be given to the type of scaffolding to be used. When we take somebody else’s scaffolding, we take their problems too. And using just one method does not teach us how to make buildings, live in them or renovate them.

Once we are clear on the business problem we are addressing – process, delivery, measurement and so on – we can identify the best combination of methods to address it. For example, if we need to do something across an entire business, Agile would not be the ideal choice, as it is designed for smaller units and it does not work at scale. Lean would be much better suited to these bigger pieces of work, with Agile incorporated within it, if required. There are many such useful combinations that can be made.

Applying methods judiciously is the key to success. In addition, we must move beyond the notion of “operational excellence” because operational excellence alone will not make success. It is more important to be good at creating the right combination of activities.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good

The sheer pace of change in today’s business world has given rise to a new “create, deploy, experiment, replace” improvement cycle in which there can be little time for incremental improvements. Trying to improve things to the level of excellence in this scenario is futile – simply because the shelf life of these improvements will diminish at the same rate at which change increases.

Competing on operational excellence and trying to drive excellence into every part of the business is what is behind the slavish drive for methods. But letting methods become our master is not a good idea – we don’t make good slaves! It is far better to identify the right combination of activities and ensure we are performing them just well enough to beat the competition – and at the same time seek new ways to do things. Or put another way: in a disruptive, fast-changing world, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Share on Social Media
Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business Process Management

Business Process Management and Six Sigma: Why Neither Can Stand Alone

Published

on

business process management

Business Process Management (BPM) software and its services, originating from the IBM, enable businesses to go for an efficient optimization of their performances by a process of ascertaining, documenting and not only automating, but also following a path of continuous improvement, to enhance the efficiency factor and at the same time, work on cost reduction. When you install it, the IT infrastructure of the organization, uses its features for enhancing the company profits and manages the processes without difficulty.

Business Process Management Software solutions play an important part in enhancing the positive aspect of the production, not only of the organization, but of the IT staff as well, whose responsibility it is to enhance their capabilities, adjust to the several changes, and in general, work towards reducing the IT operating expenditure.

Several people refer to BPM as a holistic management, which endeavors to align the business processes of an active organization with client requirements, thereby advancing the business efficacy, while focusing on creativity, flexibility and integrating it with technology. Some also call it a process optimization process because it is a continuous improvement mode and runs on a more efficient platform than a focused, conventional approach of management.

Business Process Management (BPM) software can benefit an organization in several ways.

– Enhancing business productivity and value by introducing automation at a very low investment cost
– It boosts ITIL discipline and best practices across the organization
– In terms of compliance, with regulations like Combined Code for Corporate Governance, Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA, besides others, the BPM software appears as a boon to the organization.
– Integrate the active involvement of the employees in the program for implementation
– Bring about a better amalgamation between the business processes and the profit-making goals
– Put on fast track, your responses to business conditions.
– Speed up your return on investment and ensure cost reduction.

BPM is a combination of these tools (and some more) helping the business to document, understand, measure and improve their business processes. BPM help to create well documented and streamlined processes, which are essential to ensure consistency, traceability and focus towards shared strategy and performance goals.

LSS also is a wide range tool set that is used under organized the following “problem- solving” cuasi sequential steps:

(a) Define -some of the deliverables in this step are project charters, CTQs, house of quality, Kano models;
(b) Measure – statistical descriptive and graphical tools, process and value stream mapping, capability analysis, data gathering tools;
(c) Analyze -statistical analysis tools, brainstorming, Pugh matrices, House of Quality (QFD),FMEA, Muda;
(d) Improve – Pugh matrices, mistake proofing, 5S, design of experiments;

(e) Control – Process Control plans and Statistical Process Control (SPC).

Share on Social Media
Continue Reading

Business Process Management

Business Process Management Software – Enabling Businesses to Optimize Their Performances

Published

on

Business Process Management

Business process management is a field of management, a branch of management studies. Its focus is on the improvement of the performance of a business process management by improving the processes involved in the operation of that business. It optimizes the business processes to increase efficiency within the organisation. This kind of approach enables a business to be more adaptable to change than the traditional top down hierarchical approach. Implemented consistently, it can improve the functioning of an organisation, as well as its revenues and profitability.

This kind of management is defined by some as ‘a systematic approach to making an organisation’s workflow more effective, more efficient and more capable of adapting to an ever changing environment’. A business process itself can be defines as a set of activities that are required to accomplish a certain goal within the organisation.BPM is a division of infrastructure management, which ensures the optimum utilization of an enterprise’s resources and core operations. If there is an effective business process management in place, it will give the enterprise an edge over the competition.
A management must be effective and deliver operational efficiency, business visibility, excellent customer experiences and an ability to be responsive to change. It is an important tool in the hands of business managers. Today there are many business process management programs from leading software giants like oracle and sap that offer BPM programs to run a business efficiently.

The Business Process Management Software exposes the processes to automation, which facilitates handling of a wide range of business needs and functions, which would include procurement, HR, order management and accounts payable and much more.

Business process management (BPM) software also addresses the following:

– Helps to decrease cycle time and labor intensive jobs
– Reduces the time taken for both internal external orders
– Helps to recognize low margin or loss oriented businesses
– Helps financial services, insurance, government, healthcare, manufacturing, trading and other businesses to derive maximum benefit from a low cost investment like the BPM software, which enhances the user efficiency
– Helps IT staff to enhance their competence to fine tune to changes quickly and bring about an effective reduction in IT costs.

A unified management system can reduce the cost of doing business and improve revenues, efficiency and profits. The system can also vary from the very simple to the very complex, depending on the size, and scale and the requirement of individual businesses and depending on the number of processes and the extent of monitoring required. There is scope for a great deal of customization. It is also to be understood that business process management is not a one time exercise. It is an ongoing program that needs to understand changes in the business environment and respond to it rapidly. It is essentially a process of continuous evaluation and improving of an enterprise. It is one of the important things to remember.

Share on Social Media
Continue Reading

Business Process Management

Business Process Improvement – 6 Stages to Improving Your Business

Published

on

business process management

BPM allows organizational leaders to understand the various processes that happen within their organizations, analyze them from end to end and improve them on an ongoing basis. This activity allows organizational leaders to optimize end-to-end business processes and not simply improve individual tasks, thereby, giving organizational leaders the ability to have a greater impact on outcomes.

This quick guide provides a summary of what is a business process, the 6 stages to implementing improvements and a discussion of how software can play a part in the optimization. This is intended for business owners, IT managers and those who are interested in how software development can play a part in improving their business.

Stage 1 – Documenting as-is

Understanding what your business processes are today is a critical step in the process, quite often what you think are the steps/tasks for a specific process our clients are often surprised when spending time to document that the actual process differs. As any process typically involves different people, different systems and a variable time-period these introduce uncertainty and variations in the process.

This stage requires you to take some time to document what the current process is, but don’t be too ambitious with the scope (until you are more comfortable with the process) – keep the business process you are documenting small to start with. Whether you focus on the use of a mobile app or the interaction of your clients on your website and the subsequent process – keep it simple.

Stage 2- Defining goals

Make your goals measurable, realistic and proportional to your ambition for change (we will discuss this more later but setting unrealistic goals will mean you will surely either fail to achieve the change or you will fail to secure support). If you want to reduce the time taken on producing quotes, improve the number of quotes accepted or reduce the cost spent on creating a quote now is the time to understand what the current metrics are (what are you trying to improve on).

Stage 3 – Identify optimisations

After we have defined our goals we can now re-evaluate the process to see where we might make a small change to have a big difference – this can be difficult as thinking differently isn’t easy for anyone (especially if they have followed this process perhaps for years). Start looking at the overall process – just because you do it this way – should it be done this way? Do you need to do this process at all? Are there any industry/online examples of other processes that you might be able to compare with?

Stage 4 – Define to-be

Hopefully the easier part now – using the same modelling method to write up our process we now write up/document the to-be business process in the same way. This serves to explain the proposed changes to a wider audience and seek their buy-in/acceptance – as any change is only successful if it’s well communicated and managed. You should be clear in any changes, who is impacted and what the possible business benefits are – remember to ‘sell’ the benefits to those employees impacted demonstrating how it will improve their work rather than remove their work.

Stage 5 – Define transition steps

Depending on the process you have defined there will either be a lot of change or a few small changes, this stage we break up the changes into logical steps. My suggestion is to start with the low hanging fruit – typically those that impact the least people/systems and would receive the least opinion if they were changed. The very fact you start with these will demonstrate that change is possible, it can be productive, and it warms people to the idea that not all change is bad.

Stage 6 – Implementation and change management

Now you have secured any budget, communicated the change and gained a clear mandate from any management to ensure any change is driven through the business. Defining a clear plan to implement the change is the secret here – communicate the change early, communicate clearly and repeat messages over a sustained period. Those who are directly impacted by the change should have the most attention, and ideally a member of each impacted team should have a stakeholder involved in the project.

As a software development company, we take pride in the fact we focus on business process improvements, delivering a great value solution and also supporting you and your business in ensuring the solution lands well within your organisation.

Share on Social Media
Continue Reading

Trending