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Process Design – Time to Think Beyond Efficiency

by Elise Olding  |  November 2, 2010  |  3 Comments

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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Category: bpm-strategic-planning  gartner  

Tags: bpi  bpm  gartner  process-design  symposium  

Elise Olding
Research Director
7 years at Gartner
32 years IT industry

Elise Olding is a Research Director covering the complex challenges of organizational change and business transformation from a people perspective. Her areas of focus include organizational change, communications strategies and emerging trends in employee engagement from a hands-on practitioner view. Ms. Olding provides research on a worldwide basis, advising clients on best practices to achieve sustainable change and business transformation. She is a member of Gartner's Business Process and Transformation team. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Process Design – Time to Think Beyond Efficiency

  1. Hi Elise, yes it is time to bring process management out of the ‘cost cutting’ mindset. I am just afraid that the typical BPMS out there today aren’t really cut out for it. The concept of BPM as a management principle has no such limitation, but it was the complexity of BPMS implementations that can only be justifiied with substantial cost reductions. And there certainly is that mindset in executive and management as a short-term solution to long-term profitability problems. Process management will need to step beyond the limitations of flowcharts, with their complex analysis, modeling, simulation, implementation, deployment, monitoring, and optimization cycles into a real-time, user-empowered process technology. Process maturity is achieved once the business no longer needs a process bureucracy.

    Process goals need to be linked to management targets and strategic objectives in real-time and they need to be transparent to the knowledge workers to be able to achieve them.

    So I am in absolute agreement with your proposal, I just fail to see how orthodox BPMS could shape up to it today.

  2. […] Process Awareness – Elise Olding While there’s a lot to be said about streamlining processes to reduce costs […]

  3. Tsukasa Makino says:

    Hi, Elise,
    I agree with your point. It’s time to go back to the most essential question; “Why we work?”.
    Are we working to improve efficiency? Are we working to cut cost? Are we working to bring more profit to shareholders? Those are just means, not the final objectives.

    We work to, after all, make our world better and happier. That may sound too idealistic, but the rise of social network poses us that question. In many social networks, people donate their efforts and talents for free.

    IT will contribute to make the world better, but we will need to go out of the box filled with “efficiency”, “ROI”, “cost reduction” to make it happen.

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