European Process Conference Opens Amid Deepening Economic Gloom

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Time to reflect on how process helps business respond to challenges

Process Excellence Week Europe, a cross industry gathering of process professionals, kicked off on Monday in London, amid deepening gloom over the state of European economies. The conference looked at how companies can improve processes in order to respond to the current economic challenges by helping companies operate more effectively.

The topic is of increasing importance as the Euro-zone faces another year of uncertainty. Concerns have recently coalesced around Spain with investors growing increasingly concerned about the country’s ability to service its debt and fears that the country might require a bail out package similar to the troubled EU economies of Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

For process improvement specialists that means companies - especially those operating within the Euro-zone - will continue to face pressures to "lean" out and adapt processes to respond to changing conditions whether in response to a technological or competitive change or a merger & acquisition.

"Uncertainty and rapid change have become the new backdrop for all organizations – whether in Europe or elsewhere. The days when organizations could take months or even years to respond to changing conditions are well and truly over," says Vanessa Lovatt, Director of PEX Network.

How can processes help you weather turbulent financial times?

"We’re seeing an increasing focus on ‘value for money’ in everything from government services through to banking and financial services. Smart organizations deliver business value by sharpening and automating their key operational processes," she adds.

PEX Week, produced by the PEX Network, is in its 13th year. The conference has evolved dramatically over that time period, reflecting changing approaches to business process improvement as well as shifts in the underlying economy.

Companies are demanding increasing value

for money

This year’s conference features keynotes and presentations by executives at leading companies like Reader’s Digest, Lloyds Register, GE Healthcare, and ABN Ambro. Attendees will hear how these organizations are gearing up their processes and adopting new technologies to respond to today’s new business realities.

Katie Biltoo, PEX Week event producer, says that the conference is about challenging process professionals to reflect on how they help their organizations respond to the new demands that current market conditions require of them.

"I think we need to remember the larger purpose of process improvement," says Biltoo. "Ultimately it’s about improving business operations to better serve customers - without customers you’ll rapidly find that you no longer have a business. And that’s why we really want attendees to think about how process improvement links up with the big issues of the day like ‘how can I win and retain more customers?’, ‘how can I leverage IT more strategically to provide greater value to the business?’ and ‘how can I adapt my business - and by default my business processes- to more quickly respond to rapidly changing market conditions?’"

The conference opened on Monday April 23 with two full day focus sessions. The first workshop, lead by UK-based Deming Forum, explores the leadership skills necessary to lead business transformation in the 21st century drawing on the lessons of management master W. Edwards Deming. The second workshop focuses on the practical implementation side of Business Process Management, a holistic approach to business operations usually underpinned by IT.