Alexa, What’s up with my Procurement Process?
Co-author: Aman Kumar
If you are in possession of one of these promising new virtuial assistants, you can very well imagine that the world is changing at quite a drastic pace. Clients are always in preparation mode and by the time they are prepared for taking advantage of the technology, a new one pops up. Your plan for the future might look like this:
Prepare for RPA -> Prepare for Alexa -> Prepare for AI -> Prepare for ..?
To cut to the chase, this article has nothing to do about enabling Alexa to provide me a briefing on my Procurement Processes but to provide an insight on how the process focus needs to be enhanced to reap the benefits of the rapidly evolving technological landscape.
Leverage data - and not people’s experiences
Any typical process design workshop you get into, you will find good representation from the respective value chains/functions getting into the process discovery stage. We must acknowledge the experience people bring during these workshops but we must also agree that process design based on stakeholder bias can be very costly when the process thus discovered doesn’t reflect the true nature of the workflow
There are ample process mining solutions available in the market which can help businesses to discover their processes the way they are being executed. This in a way eliminates the need for costly/time-consuming workshops to identify as-is processes and jump straight into process analysis
Document selectively and move ahead
Traditional approaches to BPM maintained the need for having a centralized repository and single source of truth. The purpose and the vision was always right thereby enabling the businesses to maintain process transparency, visibility and integration. More often than not, though, businesses end up looking for the right repository and process architecture for way too long.
In a rapidly changing world, the solution that we pick today will not serve our purposes indefinitely!
Hence its key to understand why in the current business setup, documenting the processes is required (be it for training, compliance, analysis etc) and be objective about what needs to be documented and which best current solution can serve the purpose at optimal costs.
Automation is inevitable. Processes need to be designed to take benefits from the same. But this is the area where identification of right process areas is key. Applying automation without thought process is bound to fail if the investment doesn't result in the benefits businesses may be looking for. This is where the core BPM skills would still hold value but the same needs to be applied in an agile manner. Pilots/PoCs must go on enable businesses to understand and apply the technologies. Adoption can be a very tricky process in itself but it is important the businesses take the educated call right on time before getting into a never ending ‘Due-Diligence’ cycle
Monitor to act
Most of the organizations do spend time in defining what they want to measure. Good ones also define their SLAs very well but there are various issues which have been noticed in the practices:
- KPIs/Metrics are not aligned with the process architecture
- SLAs once defined are not reviewed at the right frequency
- Evolving industry benchmark data is not looked at
- No action taken on the process until any major slippage happens
The key message is: process lead times are reducing almost every day! In these times it is critical that we define our SLAs more often to be ahead of the competition. Process performance monitoring holds value only if requisite corrective actions are taken (on need-basis). The role of process owners become very critical henceforth. Therefore, the connect between the Process Owner and the Architect is essential to allow for the process changes to be triggered almost at real time.
Evolving BPM Suites or Intelligent BPM Systems are being marketed heavily given the digital trends (social, mobility, cloud, big data etc.) These solutions are indeed promising but most of these solutions come with high costs - which can look like a dangerous overspend to some organizations. But the good part is that the market is flooded with various plug and play solutions - and organizations do have the options to pick only the components which are aligned to their business strategies. Investment is unavoidable in order to build new capabilities and be prepared for the new!
So, are you designing your processes to be Alexa enabled already?