How Business Process Improvement (BPI) Has Changed in the Digital World
Today, consumers are becoming more and more accustomed to a customer experience that is intelligent, precise and personalized as well as fast and efficient. For instance, customers frequently expand their shopping experience using their cellphone which is about to become much more interesting with the Augmented Reality push by Apple.
There are several reasons why companies embark on BPIs:
- To upgrade their customer experience to compete or compare with the quality of innovative companies such as Amazon
- To substantially reduce the cost of providing products and services, usually to respond to strong pressure on profits
- To exploit new business opportunities surfaced by new technologies
In order to meet the higher standards of today’s consumers, businesses need to transform their business processes and embrace innovative digital technologies. These technologies will allow them to automate and streamline processes that provide:
- A consistent experience across channels (web, mobile, branches)
- An intelligent experience that understands the context of the client in a particular moment (what is she trying to do, where is she now, what is the time of day, what has she done in the recent past, )
- A positive experience that makes the client feel good about the transaction and the company (g., eliminating frustration, ambiguity or unwelcome surprises)
Digitization is vital in fulfilling the requirements placed upon businesses today. Creating efficient, intelligent processes that are fast enough to meet customer’s expectations requires the use of modern digital technologies such as location services, cybersecurity solutions, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics that allow processes to be completed not only quickly, but with personalization and precision.
Additionally, digitization of processes that were formerly completed through paper and manual tasks allows companies to automatically collect data from those processes. This generation of large amounts of data – collectively referred to as Big Data – can be mined to extract opportunities to increase sales, better serve clients, and save costs.
The in-depth analysis of these large data sets and understanding of the costs of each individual task is invaluable to business process innovation, as it enables team members to see exactly where the process needs to improve, what is driving costs, where there may be causes of issues, and more.
Successful Process Innovation
One critical tenant of successful process innovation is the ability to transform an entire end-to-end process, favoring global over local optimization, rather than simply digitizing select stages.
Businesses should focus on the customer’s experience from the beginning of the process (filling out an application, browsing for a product online, etc.) to its completion (obtaining a loan, receiving a product). This is the “customer journey” and is a vital element to developing an improved business process. The company must first understand the process from a client’s perspective – what does the client go through, what do they believe about the company and its product or service, what do they feel as they interact with the company. Many companies have an inward approach to their processes that expects clients to work around their internal structure. This is an ineffective approach – it is the customer that allows the company to exist, so the company must prioritize the customer’s journey, not its own.
Developing the objectives and priorities from the client’s point of view, among other criteria, typically guides the process’s design toward simplification. Naturally, to create an efficient and seamless process, as many steps should be eliminated as possible. For instance, while many banks were trying to improve their check deposit processes within their physical branches, some banks decided to implement mobile check deposit or remote deposit capture that allows clients to scan checks at machines located in their offices (some banks are thinking of how to eliminate checks altogether). Customers were drawn toward the latter banks, as they offered greater convenience, efficiency, and ease of use.
Traditionally, when a company needed to improve its business processes, the company would attempt local optimizations, where each existing department would need to re-define how they operate. This is an ineffective method, as departments are likely to have a narrower perspective and are less likely to challenge their own department rules and habits. For example, a department may waste time by improving the way that a report is created, without taking a step back and realizing that this report is no longer used by their clients or is an unnecessary part of the process.
To successfully implement BPI in the digital world, we recommend that a business create a team, pulling members from several different departments in addition to utilizing outside talent and expertise, to define and develop the new process together.
Involving different levels of an organization increases the chances of success, as it forces both team members and executives alike to be on the same page and understand the process. Often, process inefficiencies are the result of well-intended executive decisions that simply did not take into account actual implementation details. Having everyone on board creates a more naturally flowing end-to-end process that addresses the big picture, rather than a single department at a time.
As a long-term partner, Abstracta works in close cooperation with our clients to provide expertise and qualified resources from project conceptualization all the way to implementation and validation of results while supporting the development of internal talent and incorporating new technologies. By partnering with Abstracta, in-house staff can work in tandem to digitize processes and deliver value-added changes much faster than internal resources will allow.