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What’s new in Business Process Management and Business Analysis

Understanding Customer Needs and Innovation Using Business Process Techniques

Harvard Business School professor and leading management thinker, Clayton Christensen has popularised and applied the concept of “jobs-to-be-done” to discover customer needs and opportunities for innovation. He has applied this idea to fields as diverse as education, healthcare and self-help. The concept is that people “hire” products and services to get a job done. Office workers hire word-processing software to create documents and digital recorders to capture meeting notes. Surgeons hire scalpels to dissect soft tissue and electrocautery devices to control patient bleeding. Farmers hire herbicides to prevent weeds from impacting crop yields.

This might sound obvious, but there is seldom a systematic approach to finding out exactly how customers get a job done so that innovation, even disruptive innovation, can be used to help people and companies get the job done in the quickest, most efficient way possible.

Lance Bettencourt and Anthony W. Ulwick in their ground-breaking article, The Customer-Centered Innovation Map, Harvard Business Review, May 2008, propose an efficient yet simple system companies can use to find new ways to innovate. This approach is called job mapping. The technique breaks down the job the customer wants done into a series of discrete process steps. By deconstructing a job from beginning to end, a company gains a complete view of all the points at which a customer might desire more help from a product or service—namely, at each step in the job. With a job map in hand, a company can analyze the biggest drawbacks of the products and services customers currently use.

To put these ideas into practice, the job must be defined as a process; a set of activity that consists of a series of steps that customers take to complete a task or achieve a goal or objective. This means that the job to be done can be clearly documented to solve problems for customers and enhance their experience.

Job mapping differs from as-is process mapping in that the goal is to identify what customers are trying to get done at every step, not what they are doing currently. For example, when an anesthesiologist checks a monitor during a surgical procedure, the action taken is just a means to an end. Detecting a change in patient vital signs is the job the anesthesiologist is trying to get done.

By mapping out every task of the job and locating opportunities for innovative solutions, companies can discover new ways to differentiate their offerings. The job map is essentially a customer-centric process model which can be developed using process modelling techniques. Once the tasks are identified, a company can create value in a number of ways—by improving the execution of specific job steps; eliminating the need for particular inputs or outputs; removing an entire step from the responsibility of the customer; addressing an overlooked step; resequencing the steps; or enabling steps to be completed in new locations or at different times.

Bettencourt and Ulwick propose a universal structure, regardless of the customer, for a job to be done. This has the following process activities: define what the job requires; identify and locate needed inputs; prepare the components and the physical environment; confirm that everything is ready; execute the task; monitor the results and the environment; make modifications; and conclude the job. Because problems can occur at many points in the process, nearly all jobs also require a problem resolution step. Some steps are more critical than others, depending on the job, but each is necessary to get the job done successfully.

Business process analysis and process modelling can contribute a great deal to understanding the job to be done and the innovation that is necessary to maximise customer satisfaction. In later blogs I will discuss in detail how to apply business process modelling and analysis to put the jobs-to-be-done concept into practice.

By attending our Certificate in Business Process Management programme you will learn how to identify customer needs and innovate business processes to enhance service delivery and customer satisfaction.

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How to Classify Your Processes to Structure Your Business Process Architecture

A useful way of classifying business processes is to identify and define core, support and management processes. Business process classification is important to be able to develop an effective business process architecture.

Core processes are end-to-end, cross-functional processes that directly deliver value to external clients or intermediaries. Core processes are often referred to as "primary" processes as they represent the essential activities an organisation performs to achieve its goals and objectives, fulfil its mission and attain its vision.

These processes make up what is called the value chain, which is the set of high level, interconnected core processes each of which adds value to the product or service. The value chain creates and delivers the product or service, which ultimately delivers value to customers.

Core processes can exist within organisational functions but usually move across functions and departments, or even across and between enterprises. Core processes are those involved in the development and creation of the product or service, the marketing and transfer to the service beneficiary or buyer, as well as customer feedback or after-sale support of the product or service. Core processes are the engines of the value chain and need to work seamlessly together to achieve real customer value.

The number of core processes in an organisation, regardless of size, is between four and eight.

An organisation’s ability to clearly identify and manage its core processes is a strategic capability for that organisation.

Core processes have strategic importance, have a major impact on an organisation and are critical to its success. If core processes are performed well, excellent service delivery can be provided but could pose a major strategic weakness if they are ineffective, inefficient or not managed.

Core processes are essentially operational, enabling service delivery by directly providing the organisation’s outputs and value to external key customers in the form of products, services, support or information. Core processes do not manage or provide internal services.

Support processes are enabling processes designed to assist the value-delivering core processes by providing the resources and infrastructure required by primary processes.

The main difference between support and core processes is that support processes add value to internal customers and do not directly deliver value to external customers, while core processes do.

Examples of support processes include provision of information technology, finance and human resource services, as well as the provision of goods and services to internal customers. Each of these support processes may involve a resource delivery lifecycle, and are often associated with functional areas of the organisation.

Support processes can and often do cross functional boundaries. For example, the process of providing internal capacity does not directly deliver value to external customers but supports an organisation’s ability to deliver mandated products or services.

The fact that support processes do not directly deliver value to customers does not mean that they are unimportant to an organisation. Support processes can be critical and strategic to organisations as they directly affect the ability of an organisation to execute core processes effectively.

Management processes are designed to plan, measure, monitor and control business activities. They ensure that a core or support process meets operational, financial, regulatory and legal requirements. Management processes do not directly add value to customers, but are necessary in order to ensure the organisation operates effectively and efficiently.

Business process architecture, which is a description of the structure of the business processes in an organisation, defines and classifies processes by category, as well as the level of detail. The identification and understanding of core, support and management processes at architecture as well as detailed level, is an essential starting point for a successful business process management initiative.

By attending our Certificate in Business Process Management programme you will learn how to identify core, support and management processes in your organisation.

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Our Business Process Management (BPM) Approach

In order to improve and optimise business processes and provide maximum value for process customers, we have developed an approach to BPM called the Viewpoint® Business Process Management (BPM) Methodology. This methodology is applied at two levels, the enterprise level and the process level.

At the enterprise level we conduct six activities, these are:

Communicate Business Process Management principles, concepts and benefits to senior management. This involves the full briefing of senior management to adopt the process view and support BPM initiatives. It also involves regular communication with senior management regarding the necessity for BPM and benefits achievable from BPM projects.

Facilitate the development of the organisational culture that values customer focus, teamwork, personal accountability and willingness to change. This is achieved through training and communication with all process role players.

Develop expertise, skills and a methodology for business process modelling, analysis, design and improvement. Building business process capability is one of our major thrusts to ensure BPM success.

Assist with the development of governance and management mechanisms of BPM projects and change initiatives.

Define the context, boundaries and business process architecture of the business area relating to the BPM initiative. Process types and levels are identified including core, management and support processes. The business process architecture defines the process classification, group, process and sub-process levels. The architecture is aligned with the strategy and mandates relating to the business area being analysed. This is an essential activity as it clearly defines the scope and alignment of the processes being optimised.

Identify high-priority business processes requiring optimisation within the defined business process architecture.

These activities lay the foundation for effective BPM projects at the process level of the organisation. They also provide the environment and organisational culture for the successful implementation of BPM interventions.

At the process level, we carried out six activities. These are shown in the following diagram.

Process Model

Build the As-Is Model - in this activity, the current process is mapped and documented in a business process model. During this activity process components are identified including process name, scope, owner, customers, suppliers, inputs, activities, outputs, events, resources and directives.

Analyse Requirements - this activity is conducted using elicitation techniques such as document research, interviews, surveys, observation and workshops. The results of the requirements gathered are documented in a Process Requirements Table including current process problems and opportunities, process requirements, suggested improvements and improvement benefits.

Design or Redesign the Process - this activity incorporates the results of the requirements analysis into a model of the proposed future state of the process. This is done in conjunction with the process owner and process role players. The proposed future state model is built and validated; the final deliverable being the To-Be Model. Process performance metrics relating to the measurement of efficiency, effectiveness and adaptability of the improved process are also developed and agreed on. Business process performance measurement ensures the effective control and management of operating business processes. Process performance measures are also set up for the process.

Simulate the Process - if the process is transactional, a model-based simulation is developed to test the process flow and the performance of the process with respect to throughput, time and cost.

Develop an Implementation Plan for the To-Be Model - implementation plans are developed to ensure the effective transformation of improved business processes. This involves a detailed project plan for each process to realise the development or changes to the components of the process including information system specification, organisational changes, change navigation and the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Own the Process - Once the redesigned or improved process has been implemented, the process owner is responsible and accountable for the ongoing performance of the process. Either continuous improvement is conducted or the optimisation cycle is repeated. Here, the process performance measures play a vital role.

All the business process models developed for the as-is and to-be process models use the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) Version 2 which is the global de facto standard for business process modelling.

By attending our Certificate in Business Process Management programme you will learn how to apply our approach to your business process management initiative.

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