It's a handly little PDF (3.2Mb) that you can read anywhere.
I hope you enjoy it.
It's a handly little PDF (3.2Mb) that you can read anywhere.
I hope you enjoy it.
This video on the PEX Network is the best video I've ever seen that encapsulates the importance of process.
It's a must watch.
Tell your friends, tell the world, the process revolution is here...
I was fortunate to be asked to contribute to an article in the Herald Sun late last year entitled "Express too slow? Try the slow queue to speed things up"
I enjoy looking at retail processes but still surprised that Australia lags so far behind the rest of the world.
How many times do we hear this said?
When I hear this being it immediately fills me with dread; images of men in suits wandering through dark forests without maps, looking for mushrooms...needles in haystacks and the like (you get the idea...)
What generally happens in these situations is that business analysts go away and do just that - gather requirements - what the business thinks they want. Typically what this results in is a giant rambling document written in a pseudo business / IT speak that the business say they can't read and the IT guys say isn't detailed enough for them to build from. So the BA goes away and creates a functional spec which the IT guys love, but by this point in time it has morphed so far from what the business want, they have a heart attack when they see the final product!
"But that's what you told us!" say the BA's and IT guys!
It doesn't have to be this hard. Here's how you do it:
1. Define the successful customer outcome(s)
2. Define the process scope
Establish what the process actually is from the customer's perspective - current state (if a current state exists!). Don't take the business's word for it - their interpretation of what a process is may be radically different to yours. Document the process at a high level (e.g. SIPOC) - confirm with the business. Tick in box from business?
3. Define the current process
Proceed to document the process at a task level. Don't waste too much time on the as-is if you are going to change the process! Photos of sticky notes on a wall is sufficient. Tick in box from business?
4. Improve the process / define new process
List all the tasks in the current process and eliminate or improve tasks focussing on the outcomes required. If a new process, sticky note the tasks required to achieve the outcomes required with the minimal amount of activities. Don't just consider "sunny day processes" where everything goes right - consider everything that can go wrong! Look at the paths from every business rule in your process! Consider all process permutations!
5. Link Process Tasks to Procedural Steps
For each task, create procedural steps - how and why each process step is done rather than what is done. This can be done very simply in a spreadsheet ( For example my Process Ninja Workbook that utilises the CEM Method). What's more, you can then spit it into a procedural document for your staff to use for training and day-to-day operational procedures.
6. Link Procedural Detail to Business Requirements
The procedural detail helps to create a granular level of detail that greatly benefits the creation of specific requirements. It forces the analyst to think of all possible permutations and options - it forces them to think in the context of the real world, not a gobbledegook business requirements document.
7. Link Business requirements to test scenarios
8. Build it. Iteratively.
Presuming that there is actually an IT solution involved (and let's face it, there usually is), it's best to adopt an iterative (agile) approach where there are short development cycles with high business involvement. I have seen too many waterfall development disasters in my time.
It's not really that hard, but isn't it amazing that so many people can make it seem that way?
For those of you looking for some further clarification on Customer Experience Management and the CEM Method, it's well worth a read.
We've all experienced them. Customers loathe them. Companies don't realise they exist. They suck good sentiment out of your customers and suck money out of your company coffers. I call them "Process Black Holes".
Process black holes are where a process blackspot occurs where one of two things happens:
Process black holes exist because companies don't understand their processes, don't have visibility and dare I say it "management" of their processes. They are more prevalent in organisations where there are processes that cross more functions (hence more breakpoints) - more opportunities for the process to fail.
So what can we do to rid our organisations of Process Black Holes?
Listen to your customers. Listen to your employees. Close those black holes.
This is my attempt at it - I hope it provides a handly intro for those of us out there trying to provide some clarity on what the CEM Method does and why it's different.
"Great looking coffee. So you have described a process. One you want repeated accurately, one that would benefit from certain steps have photos or videos, but one you cannot automate.
That is why Nimbus Control exists. 80% of corporate processes are like this.
So to those who say BPM=automation, now I'd say its time to wake and smell the coffee"
In our rush to automate business process its sometimes easy to forget that work revolves around those funny things called "people". There seems to be a tendency to make the assumption that almost anything can be automated - but it can't. If we look at the complexity of everyday work and the decision making involved (never minding the social interaction glue that makes the business world revolve), automation is just a small part of making process work.
I believe that good process automates where possible as long as there is no negative impact to the customer experience. To me, process is the mechanism that links tasks together - it then guides the worker to complete the tasks in the best manner possible.
Process isn't all about software, it's about putting practices in place that enable the outcomes we want for our customers. Think about the millions of small businesses that do not have the luxury of software tools - they can still benefit from robust processes and procedures (I know because my cafe did!)
So when you become consumed by your quest to automate every process and every task you see, stop for a moment and consider:
There is a happy medium between manual and automated tasks in every business, and if you get that balance right that's when the magic starts to happen.
Maybe I'm just weird, or maybe it's my age, or maybe it's because I'm a man, but if there is the option of avoiding human interaction with a customer service person I will take that option every time.
It's more than likely due to my lack of patience with badly design IVR systems that send me around in loops then put me through to a queue which keeps me on hold for 20 minutes or my lack of faith in company contact forms and email addresses which disappear into black holes. But give me a self service customer portal and I'll be as happy as Larry - if it's done right.
Self service is all the rage - who would have thought 30 years ago we'd be checking into airlines ourselves? 50 years ago no-one thought we'd be pumping our own petrol! But today we are "outsourcing to the customer" whatever we can - and it makes sense:
Of course the company foots the bill for the development of the customer portal, but if done right customer portals can be a huge money saver whilst simultaneously improving the customer's experience (the moment of truth). But on the flip-side, if done badly, customer portals can generate more harm than good, generating increased calls from angry customers and damaging the company's image.
Here's a couple of examples of good and bad customer portals:
The Good - Alphera
Alphera is the finance arm of BMW so you'd expect that their portal would be as good as their cars - and it is! Here's why:
Easy login with well designed screen:
Upon login there is a well designed screen with everything in one place. From here I can press on any of the large buttons to access the information I require:
What sets the Alphera website above others is the ability to update information i.e. rather than being a static portal. I can update my personal details, bank details and set up payment reminders. I have access to every piece of information I require and if my details change there is no need to contact the company by any other means. I have total control.
On the contrary, let's have a look at what I call the "lipstick on the pig portal" - the kind of half-baked portal the world can do wiothout:
The Bad - Optus
After I login I see a screen with my different services:
Numbers 1&3 direct me to download a form that I need to complete and post - hardly an online portal!
Number 2 links to another screen where I have to look at services individually (not in one). I click on my broadband service and I get a blank page with an error message. Lovely.
So what can I do? I can view my bills in PDF format and I can view usage on one of my services. View being the operative word: I can't update anything, can't change or cancel my service or buy any additional services. In short I have a limited, static service - lipstick on the pig. My only option if I want to do anything requiring some form of update is to call that hideous IVR and sit in a queue for 20 minutes (because I know Optus don't respond to emails or contact forms!) And at the end of my contract...I take my business elsewhere...
With customer portals we have a huge opportunity to improve the customer experience and to save money - they can even be revenue producing if done properly. But if you don't take the time (and let's be honest, money) required to get it right you may as well not bother.
When I was a student one of my favourite pastimes was browsing through CD shops. I would spend many a spare hour doing so. Fast forward 15 years and CD shops are now almost complete a relic of a former age. But despite the fact that they're gone I don't miss them at all.
I now buy all my music via itunes and I can sit in the comfort of my own home, browsing my ipad, listening to samples of the music then purchasing and downloading the music instantly. The outcome of the process essentially remains the same over 15 years - buy music. But the process itself has become simpler, faster and more enjoyable. Technology has acted as an enabler, but this also required some customer centric thinking to get the mix right.
Soon we'll see the demise of bookshops (iPads and kindles will take care of that), Retail & Rental DVD shops (itunes and netflix will cream that) as well as post offices (dwindling postage numbers & prepaid options will kill them). And I won't miss those either. Sure we might all end up couch potatoes that don't have any need to move, but it will also free up all that wasted time traveling to retail stores so that we can do some exercise!
So what are the lessons from a process point of view?
The outcome may remain the same, but if we focus on the customer experience of the process, the customer gets what they really need, not what we think they want - or as Henry Ford once put it...
"If I'd asked people what they wanted they'd have said a faster horse".
Craig Reid is known throughout the business world as "The Process Ninja". He is a passionate advocate of business process management.