During my time here at Gartner, it seems many of the process design projects I see focus on efficiency and saving costs. Sometimes your job is to redesign the box but I would propose that more exciting times are upon us. It’s now time to think about the box itself. Here’s just a few of the things that are going to change the way you need to think about that box design:
- Extended supply chain – the need to be able to identify all the parts/ingredients/suppliers in your extended supply chain will be important. Having transparency about where stuff comes from will influence buying decisions. The recent lead paint issues in toy production, pet food recalls and stressful working conditions highlight the risks of ignoring this area. Kaiser Permanente and P&G query their suppliers and “if there’s a tough choice among suppliers, the vendor with the best score gets the nod,” states a Fast Company article. If you are a supplier is this a trend you want to ignore?
- Sustainability – being green and the impact on the environment is getting a lot of attention. How environmentally friendly are your processes? Are they configured to have the minimum footprint? Are your processes designed to measure this? How do your products and services stack up against your competition? Customers are increasingly making buying decisions on these criteria and may soon expect “report cards.”
- Social responsibility and fair trade – are you giving back to the communities where you source products and making others lives better for working with you? A chocolate company in San Francisco, TCHO, has helped the farmers produce better beans – they get a better product and the farmers make more money. Peet’s coffee believes in direct relationships with their coffee suppliers which earns them “premium prices that are substantially higher than market prices and always above the Fair Trade Certified™ brand price.”
These are just a couple of examples. There’s certainly a lot more – the impact of social networks, crowd sourcing, co-creation, moving to cloud computing and more demanding, better educated customers who want better service and more transparency. While there’s a lot to be said about streamlining processes to reduce costs and increase efficiencies that sort of thinking will keep you in the trenches. If you want to raise process awareness to a strategic level and deliver the ability to provide competitive advantage, you may want to consider the impact of some of these trends on your business models.
What do you think? Are these compelling concerns we should have as process professionals? Do you have the passion to take these on? I want to hear from you!
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