I read Craig Reid’s blog a lot, not least because he is known as The Process Ninja, truly knows his stuff, and is a fellow Brit (though he’s ended up in Australia, while I’ve landed in the US). I mention Craig because I met up with a client last week, and we had a full and frank discussion about how HighGear could be used to implement and test new processes. That discussion on agility and flexibility, reminded me of a post by Craig on why speed and flexibility are business essentials.
Our client, a bank, was increasingly frustrated with their IT department, who had been leading the implementation of new processes cooked up by business operations. The problem was that by the time IT had gotten around to an implementation of the processes that the Ops team wanted, their requirements changed and the process needed to change too.
IT were understandably frustrated because of the endless changes in requirements.
Business operations were close to tearing their hair out, because by the time they got a solution, it was already out of date.
The meeting was pretty candid, and the ice melted when one of the senior IT guys charitably hit the nail on the head with a pretty big admission – IT could not keep pace with the rate of change in operational requirements.
It wasn’t IT’s fault – it is just the way the business world works today, and this applies to more than banking and financial services.
The Speed of Change
This is where I started thinking of Craig and his blog post, and his opening salvo in particular resonated with me:
“We are in the midst of a process revolution. At no time in our history have businesses been so prone to the speed of change.”
Personally, I think they are heavily exposed.
The Consumer Revolution
Moving on with Craig and his post, he hits the nail on the head when he talks about the “Consumer Revolution” and how the advent of Social Media has provided consumers with a voice like never before.
If I call and you put me into your phone tree and I end up in phone hell, I can tweet or post to Facebook while your elevator music is whining in my ear.
If a customer engages with a grumpy customer service rep (and yes, I also had one of those last week) then your company’s name will be social mud (and yes, I did post my dismay with said rep and his company on my own Facebook profile and on his company page, which resulted in an e-mail from his boss’ boss apologizing within 24 hours and refunding my money).
If you are not hot on customer satisfaction, which means giving customers what they want, how they want it and when they want, 24/7 x 365, then you’re in trouble. But the problem is that what customers want is continuously changing, as is everything else.
Craig very rightly points out:
“Consumers now have the power and they’re using it. We are entering an age where they will expect a higher standard of service than ever before.”
Back to our HighGear client – their processes needed to change to adapt to their customer base, but IT couldn’t keep up. No matter how fast they came up with a solution, IT was always behind the times, and as Bob Dylan sang, “they are-a-changing”.
Customers were increasingly agitated and retention metrics reflected this and were causing operational management pain.
The HighGear solution: simple, use the workflow engine in HighGear to design and push business workflows live.
How does this work?
HighGear’s workflow UI allows for simple drag-and-drop functionality, and requires no IT input – ZERO! The workflow UI allows ordinary business users not only to design workflows simply, but to have them pushed live and operational – on their own. HighGear then takes the visually designed workflows and enforces the operational processes, splitting out the individual tasks, managing the action/decision points, and reporting … automatically.
Finally, business operations were able to leverage a platform that allowed them to design AND execute on their own business processes, and to do it quickly – as quickly as their customers expected.
At one point in our meeting, the client team seeing the possibilities, started down the road of, “We need to start planning out the design of the new processes, and then we can put it in HighGear.”
“No need,” I said, “just design the workflows in HighGear and it will do the rest for you: you’re not creating a process design in HighGear, you’re creating the actual, live operational process.” HighGear provides full test system capabilities so you can try out your new and improved ideas in a safe sandbox, and when you are happy with them, you can push them over to the live environment.
Amongst the business operations staff, the bulbs above their heads started lighting up – they finally get the ability to design and implement business processes, on a timeline as fast as they can come up with a need to change the operational process.
That sounds almost like continuous improvement to me, but I wonder what Craig Reid might have to say on that?