Making change happen

Organizations should connect operational excellence with a strategy that effectively manages change

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Neste VP of business processes Markko Rajatora explains in this webinar recording how the company uses a process backbone to manage all change activities to achieve improvements in business and IT. As explained in this blog post, process analytics can be used to follow up the effects of improvements in various key processes.

In times of high uncertainty, dynamic markets and rapid technological progress, it is important to realize successful companies have understood that change will accompany us and that the speed of disruptions will even increase. It is important to see change as a friend and to manage it proactively: change in a company never ends.

The list of quotes about change is endless – here are my three favorites:

  • “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein
  • “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said ‘don’t change anything.’” – Henry Ford
  • "I believe in the horse. The automobile is only a temporary phenomenon." – Emperor Wilhelm II., last German Emperor

Companies need a framework to manage change. Successful companies use process maps as the backbone of all their change initiatives, because processes are the perfect navigation structure for all relevant aspects of a company. A business process connects the logical structure of business transactions with the organizational structure, information objects and data, and also establishes the connection to the compliance and risk aspects of the company. Technology-driven projects are also evaluated according to their contribution to the company's value creation; the enterprise architecture and the IT roadmap would be inconceivable and meaningless without the connection to the business strategy and the company’s business processes.

It is good to have a plan, but plans must be constantly aligned with reality. Boxing legend Mike Tyson put it strikingly: "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Studies show that operational excellence is still an enormous challenge for many companies and that there is a clear, lasting connection between operational management and corporate success. If you do not have a firm grasp of day-to-day business and implementation processes, even a brilliant strategy is of little use.

The efficient implementation of operational excellence is no longer possible without an automated analysis of reality. It is necessary to identify the patterns in the processes that probably will result in high manual effort, long lead times and dissatisfied customers. Process mining tools should be used for all those process types that are of high importance for your competitive position or customer satisfaction: order-to-cash, customer service (issue-to-resolution), but also procurement-to-pay or innovation (idea-to-product).

Secondly, the identified problematic constellations need to be addressed. Process changes need to be initiated and their success measured in a permanent, iterative procedure. This means that process design and process mining capabilities are used within an integrated platform, 1 + 1 = 3. An integrated platform uses the appropriate technology or, in very many cases, a combination of technologies, depending on the issue at hand.

These capabilities must be embedded in the appropriate organizational framework: many companies have successfully established centers of excellence for operational/process excellence. The portfolio of these teams is currently expanding massively: they need the skills and the influence to not only design processes, but – in close cooperation with the lines of business – to define the relevant process indicators and to turn analytical insights into concrete plans of action.

In the report Insights-driven businesses set the pace for global growth, Forrester concludes that insight-driven organizations were growing seven to 10 times faster than global GDP in 2018. If you accept that change will accompany us and that the challenges are likely to increase, then you should make sure to establish the appropriate procedures and instruments to proactively manage it.

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