Johannesburg, 22 Aug 2023
As the blueprint through which business activities are achieved, business processes are a critical part of an organisation’s ability to function. The principle behind these processes is simple: the objective is to identify business activities and categorise these into a series of distinct, repeatable tasks, to provide, firstly, greater levels of consistency and reliability within the organisation and, secondly, to align the delivery of service with the organisational goals.
According to Charl Kleynhans, Senior Manager: Business Improvement and Project Management at Altron FinTech, the objective of BPM is to ensure the business is consistent in delivery to its customers.
“BPM helps to create efficiencies, particularly across different business departments, allowing them to structure their work in a more controlled manner. It also allows for better monitoring of service delivery, identifies bottlenecks, impediments and other hurdles that departments may face, which includes revenue leakages, and allows the company to set realistic expectations around how it delivers on its promises,” he says.
“In fact, identifying processes that are less than optimum is a key aspect of BPM. This is achieved by focusing on those identified problem areas and implementing tangible and workable solutions. BPM also considers things like the number of queries or complaints received, or delivery breakdowns experienced. Any of the above are indicators that something is not working in the process, because something was not properly defined or followed.”
Kleynhans notes that BPM practitioners should also talk to internal staff members, as these individuals are specialists in their departments and are thus able to quickly identify inconsistencies and bottlenecks, which is usually the result of poor processes.
“There is a clear link between technology, processes and people, so it is important to understand where the breakdown is occurring. The reasons for inefficiency in a process could be due to the process itself being flawed, the process is not documented or the process has not been communicated. Under such circumstances, it is necessary to investigate and understand the reasons for the inefficiencies.”
He also added that poor processes have a direct impact on the customer user experience (CX). Remember that the customer-facing departments need to deliver on a certain level of customer expectation. If they are unable to meet this expectation, there is a clear failure in the process, and this leads directly to the customer potentially moving to another supplier. This, he says, will have a direct impact on the bottom line, while it could also negatively impact on the organisation’s reputation.
“In understanding business process improvement, it is important to understand that each organisation – and possibly even each business unit and/or departments are different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to business process improvement. Each process is unique and suits a specific need. Business processes are also not static and they should be constantly reviewed to ensure they are streamlined and relevant.
“It is also vital to remember that any changes in processes will also have an impact on the individuals within the organisation, and that most people don’t really like change. Therefore, process improvement requires a mindset change for staff, as they will have to do things differently. This is specifically relevant when manual processes are automated using various different technologies.
Kleynhans points out that process automation could lead to concerns regarding less workload and the fear of becoming redundant, with individuals worried about losing their jobs to this.
“This is why it is crucial to undertake a change management approach, as this will demonstrate the benefits of automation and how it will help individuals to do their job better or faster. The net effect of process automation is to create efficiencies, after all,” he notes.
“Ultimately, some form of change management training is required because you cannot improve without change, and you cannot change without improvement. The key to the successful adoption of process changes is directly linked to the leadership and management teams' support, which ensures that the change is driven from the top down.”
Kleynhans suggests that he is a big supporter of keeping BPM internal to the company, but that it must be driven by an independent body within the organisation, one that is prepared to challenge the norm. He is of the opinion that it’s more effective to create an internal team to address inefficiencies and focus on BPM.
“This is why Altron Fintech has a dedicated business process improvement team, which is headed up by Riona Jairam. The team is focused on assisting the departments to document and improve their current processes as well as to challenge the business units to change the way they think about their work and how to be more efficient in their delivery.
“As for any final words of advice on BPM, I believe it is essential to have your processes properly documented, as this can be used as the basis for training and delivery. Having access to recorded processes is critical in ensuring processes are properly followed by all individuals. Remember that processes don’t have to be complex. It is important to be flexible and to recognise that even if it only involves two steps, it is still a process that must be documented and, potentially, improved,” he concludes.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often – Winston Churchill.”