Reviewing and optimising processes to support your digital transformation
In our first article we introduced The Four Ps of Digital Transformation, - people, process, platform and product. After discussing the significant role that people and culture play in developing a digital business, now is the time to take a deep dive into the second of these essential elements, process.
Digital businesses are agile by their nature. Business agility is the ability to change direction quickly in response to shifts in the competitive landscape, consumer expectations and new business models.
By simplifying and streamlining their processes, even scaled enterprises can improve their agility with the goal of delivering an overall better customer experience. Today's digital customer expects to be able to interact and transact with both private sector and government agencies seamlessly via the channel of their choice (voice, web and mobile, in person).
In insurance, for example, if a potential customer is trying to get a policy for their home and contents online, but some of the knowledge required to offer a quote is in the consultants head, they won't be able to get a result through that digital channel. The customer will need to go through a call centre, or send the insurer some details and wait for a response.
Customer-centricity is a key brand differentiator, and with the clear customer migration to digital channels, it's clear that business processes are an area of focus.
The benefits of process digitisation
Reviewing and optimising operational processes can deliver significant benefits. Enabling customers to complete their transactions unassisted via digital channels delivers multiple benefits to both the customer and the business.
Firstly the customer can complete the task at their convenience, without having to wait to talk to someone and explain their requirements.
A well designed digital experience also gives the customer better visibility of the status of their request. Depending on the application this can include order status, delivery status, current account balance, product availability, next best action and recent transactions etc.
Marketing automation platforms and recommendation engines can help further improve the digital customer experience by providing content and recommendations based on a rich set of customer data, like previous purchase/interaction history, demographics, interactions with digital marketing activity, items in basket, current location etc).
In order to achieve these benefits, businesses must work towards fully digitising their processes to try and remove the dependence on manual processes that require human interaction. Human interaction should be leveraged in complex and unusual situations where it adds value to the customer experience.
Challenges of digitising operational processes
The challenge for many business that have been operating for some time is shaking themselves loose from established, and often outdated, operational processes. As the organisation grows organically, those processes become more complex, placing greater reliance on human intervention to achieve results and enable business to perform effectively.
Reviewing your key operational processes is the first step towards becoming a digital business. By organising and optimising all activities and tasks that produce a specific service or product, you will quickly see where inefficiencies are manifesting, and can begin the transformation process to improve the customer journey and deliver solutions with greater speed.
Complex business processes are often inextricably linked with outdated legacy technology. In many instances, applications and platforms that were designed for a pre-digital customer, are being twisted and tortured to deliver the digital channel experience.
Reviewing and optimising your key operational processes is the first step towards becoming a digital business.
Business process specialists can help unpick the complexity and work with the business to identify where process complexities can be simplified, and where manual intervention can be designed out of the process flow.
Like with all of the Four Ps of Digital Transformation, change isn't always easy. Particularly with regards to well-embedded legacy processes, gaining the necessary organisational buy-in to make the transition to new, more efficient ways of doing things can be an uphill battle.
In some cases, different business units will do things in different ways, so standardising those processes and enabling them to be automated and digitised is a significant piece of work in itself.
Digital consultants can work with businesses that struggle with the challenges of understanding and mapping processes, going into a significant level of detail to find out which are understood, documented and agreed upon, and which aren't.
Cost and service improvements
As well as delivering a better customer experience there are also benefits to process digitisation such as reduced operational and processing costs, access to new markets and the ability to capture a deeper range of customer data.
Research by McKinsey & Company has suggested that by digitising information-intensive processes, costs can be reduced by as much as 90 per cent, with turnaround times for services markedly improved as a result.
Using government transformation as an example, research director at Gartner, Rick Howard spoke about the perils of being hamstrung by older processes.
"The burden of legacy technologies in government puts innovation on a path of incremental improvement when agility and quick solution delivery is expected [...] CIOs must flip their approach to managing IT from the inside-out perspective of legacy constraints to the outside-in view of citizen experience."
Checklist for success
1. Remove underlying assumptions
2. Work with your customers and internal stakeholders to understand what parts of the current process are adding real value and where they are creating friction
3. Work with your leadership team to develop and communicate a concise digital process strategy
4. Devote adequate time towards researching the changes that can be made to operational processes, and the technology required to make them happen
5. Be ruthless with outdated legacy processes. Just because a given solution has worked for a long time doesn't mean it's the best for a modern digital business
6. Build a data-driven culture within your organisation that supports collaboration and sharing of information
7. Automate anything and everything possible. The less manual your processes, the more efficient and accurate they will be
8. Use prototyping platforms to map and automate your processes and deliver digital prototypes
9. Use external consultants and contract resource where it makes sense to bring fresh thinking and expertise to accelerate your process digitisation
Rapid prototyping helps bring new digital experiences to life
At Solnet we have developed an advanced rapid prototyping platform that translates complex business processes and rule into a format that can be consumed easily by web and mobile applications. The benefit of this approach is that business process owners can actually interact with the digital customer experience based on their own business rules. Interacting with the prototype application lets our clients get a real time feel for the customer experience before they invest further into application development and platform integration.
The process is iterative and automated. As the business and process rules are enhanced, the digital experience updates in real time, removing dependency on additional front-end coding work.
Solnet has the skills and technology that enables organisations to rapidly prototype a digital experience based on their business processes.
Get in touch today for more advice about improving operational processes.