Friday, October 10, 2014

The Friction of Business Process Changes

Change has to be consistent, continuous via concentration.

With emerging digital technologies such as Cloud, mobile, social and analytics, business process changes are inevitable, digital is all about changes, the new way to do things, the human progression, but what’re the frictions of such business process changes?

“WIFM” as part of Change Management: Most of the organizations would like to change their business processes, as long as individuals know how they will benefit personally from the change in the process. Creating desire for change (usually through WIIFM - What's In It For Me) is part of change management. 

Change brings forth new ways of doing things. It means both management and personnel must adapt to a new way of business and in some cases a new culture. The entire purpose is to give executive management visibility into what the team is doing. But does the reduction fear increase when the project starts or during the development as a result of lack of participation by the management and users. There is one particular instance where change will be always challenged - when people believe their job is at risk. Too often, change is simply another word for "Reduction in Force." Even if not said directly, people catch on to the real purpose of the change pretty quickly. Getting people to buy in is essential to making the project work and finding those areas of improvement for people that need the assurance their employment will continue. Executive fiat does not lead to successful change.

Project sponsorship plays big role; if the main sponsor is the business then it’s easier to address business transformation or business process change; if sponsor is IT, it may become a lot more difficult because, in most of the organizations, IT and business are not integral so seamlessly; internal politics come to the equation, or business requires strong business case on how this new initiative will improve business effectiveness and efficiency. IT has difficulties in addressing effectiveness and efficiency; they can guarantee capability (that it works; not how well it works). In short, process change is business initiative, not IT project. There should not be IT projects in companies but business transformation projects with a clear business outcome that is measurable; having that as a destination, then it is about steering changes in processes, ways of working, organization and technology - the latter being only one ingredient of the total recipe. Projects "on time / on budget" do not necessarily reduce the cost of doing business or build the ability to capture more revenue.

Automation should result in simplification of the business process that means changes in business process. However, that does not always require a change in staff. Staff may need to follow a different course of action, or may be deployed in other areas if the process does not require that much manpower. Generally, that needs to be documented as a part of project definition and accepted and agreed with the management. If there are additional changes, they are normally in favor of management and management does own that. 

Change has to be consistent, continuous via concentration: It can be equally challenging if the business takes charge, they can extremely demanding for delivery without regard to what needs to be done. Or it generates the process change; the business side does not want to accept the project. If the business cannot remain focused on the gain, the project can quickly default to no owner or lack of continuous improvement. Process change is not a one-time project, but an ongoing capability in managing organization’s transformation, with the goals to build a frictionless digital business.  

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