Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Business Process Improvement (BPI 7) (139-slide PowerPoint presentation). Our business process improvements methodology BPI 7 is a proven and systematic approach to continuously improve an organization's existing business processes. The Business Process Improvement (BPI 7) Training Module includes: 1. MS PowerPoint Presentation including 141 slides [read more]
Just Too Many Processes? Gain Back your Competitiveness through Global Process Optimization
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Management processes–everything from how a company manages risk to how it gets supplies for factories to how it manages and develops people–are some of the primary ways that global companies impose order and consistency on a diverse set of global operations. Companies believe that processes can help share knowledge across divisions and regions to achieve operational excellence. Likewise, seamless delivery and service processes can be central to meeting customer expectations.
In a world where the pace of competition is increasing faster than ever, best-in-class processes can create competitive advantages when it comes to innovation and risk management. However, researches have shown that companies are particularly poor at managing processes. Often there are just too many processes. Worst, executives often do not know where to begin; a Leadership Development dilemma.
The Pitfalls of Organizations
Global organizations are particularly poor at managing processes. Processes are considered one of the 3 weakest aspects of organizations and strengthening them is crucial.
Based on a McKinsey survey of executives, executives do not know what their processes are. Inasmuch as there are just too many processes, these processes do not reflect new customer needs. In fact, there exists a resistance to change that can be damaging to an organization.
Organizations have to understand that processes can go wrong on a global scale and it can bring in a lot of challenges to an organization.
The 3 Core Challenges to Global Organizations
Organizations are faced with 3 core challenges when dealing with processes and transforming them to a global scale.
- A Plethora of Processes. When there are a plethora of processes, there are just too many processes and too little value. This happens when executives are unable to differentiate between processes that are essential to creating global value and those that are inessential but offer benefits if these are consistent. Executives also fail to differentiate between processes that are crucial to customers or those that create value and those that do not. A plethora of processes is also created when the operation is in various locations or as a result of M&A activity.
- Overstandardization. How do you know that overstandardization exists? It is when processes are so rigid that they are slow to respond to new growth. As a result, there is a dramatic decrease in local responsiveness. This core challenge often arises because there is just too much concern about maximizing control and reducing risk.
- Resistance to Change. This is the third core challenge faced when change is introduced and there is resistance. Resistance to change often occurs when there is difficulty in changing customer-facing processes until the organization is faced with customer backlash. Executives often fail to understand customers’ preference for standard global service. The thinking is often directed towards country-specific variations which are not often what customers like.
Overcoming the 3 core challenges can be done. Organizations just need to take on a 3-phase approach that will ensure that all global processes are enabling performance. These are Prioritize, Optimize, and Implement. A 3-phase approach is an effective tool towards approaching Global Process Optimization in a strategic manner where value is maximized at minimal cost and complexity.
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Process Improvement involves analyzing and improving existing business processes in the pursuit of optimized performance. The goals are typically to continuously reduce costs, minimize errors, eliminate waste, improve productivity, and streamline activities.
As we continue to deal with COVID-19 and its economic aftermath, most organizations will prioritize Business Process Improvement initiatives. This is true for a few reasons. First, Process Improvement is one of the most common and effective ways of reducing costs. As the global economy slows down, Cost Management will jump to the forefront of most corporate agendas.
Secondly, a downturn typically unveils ineffective and broken business processes. Organizations that once seemed agile and focused during periods of growth may become sluggish and inefficient when demand drops off.
Lastly, COVID-19 has expedited Digital Transformation for most organizations. One of the quickest and most impactful forms of Digital Transformation is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Thus, we have included numerous RPA frameworks within this Stream.
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About Joseph RobinsonJoseph Robinson is the Vice President of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is the marketplace for best practices in business management. Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. The documents at Flevy (https://flevy.com) are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with 20+ years of experience. Flevy covers 200+ management topics, ranging from Digital Transformation to Growth Strategy to Lean Management. You can peruse a full list of management topics available on Flevy here. Prior to Flevy, Joseph worked as an Associate at BCG and holds an MBA from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn here.
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