Continual Process Improvement, Lean, Agile, BPR (business process re-engineering), business automation, workflow…the list can go on and on. It seems every few years a new trend arises on driving workplace or production efficiency, effectiveness, and quality.
Simply – we need to improve quality and reduce non-value add activities. How do we do that?
For many years we heard about workflow automation and we were continually working to automate as much as we possibly could. However, to truly improve, we can’t simply focus on workflows or automation we must focus on modernization.
Modernization is defined as:
the current term for an old process—the process of social change whereby less developed societies acquire characteristics common to more developed societies. The process is activated by international, or intersocietal, communication.
Process Modernization is the current term for a necessary (or business critical) process—the process of operation change whereby highly dependent processes acquire characteristics common to more innovative or agile processes. The process is activated by specific triggers such as those identified through data, inter- and intra-business communication needs, and external business influencers.
Many times what happens with workflow automation is that we run through the same standard steps:
- Evaluate Current Processes
- Identify potential improvement
- Implement improvement
- Incorporate some piece of technology to lessen human touch or interaction
- Measure Success
- Implement controls to maintain quality standards
- Rinse and Repeat
So what is the difference between Process Modernization and deploying workflows?
Process Modernization is the incorporation of technology as a part of a business process to improve process stakeholders’ point of need and increase the level of system engagement across the entire business ecosystem.
In the concept of Process Modernization, workflows serve as the circulatory system for information. It keeps the vitals moving throughout the organizational body. The layer that we add to that is essentially the nervous system. We work to improve touch points throughout the entire process. Increasing touch points does a couple of things:
- Provides real time data and analysis if there is a process problem
- Provides multiple interaction points to consume, distribute, and process information
To focus on modernizing your processes, don’t just focus on the workflow, but focus on the relationship between your technology and processes. Workflows are everywhere, but workflow tools that enable you to modernize how you do business are not.
As you go down the path of modernizing your processes try asking these following four questions, at best, it’s a good starting point for modernization.
- Does it separate process from data interaction?
- Can users dynamically interact with information in a business process?
- How is your process altered by a distributed or mobile workforce?
- What is your technology ecosystem?
Modernization is a natural evolution – we must do it, or we will face a somewhat limited future state.