IT process solutions: Easy to use and effective
Smooth IT processes can create capacity as if by magic - no extra staff needed, just better use of their time and skill, says Gerhard Conradie, MD of Evolv Networks.
Your customers see your broken business processes every day
We've all fumed at a supplier with a relentlessly bone-headed way of tracking and following up on orders. We've all had white-knuckled exchanges with people about why they don't do their jobs properly. We can all see bad processes and broken-by-design systems in companies we do business with, and yet there's a 99.9% chance that on any day of the week, you can find one of your customers who thinks the same of you.
Management wants efficient, smoothly managed processes, but too often, things work well for a little while and then break down. Process variation is the single biggest factor in customer dissatisfaction. "Under-promise and over-deliver" should be our mantra, but process gaps cause us to fail in this, time after time.
Processes caught in the crossfire of business change
Processes are set up but do not keep up as business changes - customer needs shift, suppliers move on, staff churns.
What if there was a way to work out what processes are needed, with an easy representation so we can see at a glance what is happening, by when, and where there are risky dependencies? What if the tool we used to draw up our processes can also manage them, track completion, flag problems? There is - IT software architecture solutions do exactly that.
IT process solutions are easy to use and effective
The truth is that there are no real excuses for poorly managed processes with large gaps or variations. Excellent technology tools and the know-how exist.
Start with a need-gap analysis and needs assessment. Mapping out existing workflows to identify what most certainly will not take your business into a grander future, clears the way to identify the technology solutions you need to serve your business priorities.
But keep in mind that no process works well forever... it needs constant examination and refinement. Evolv tackles this head on for our clients, with Strategic IT Manager Meetings where we ask tough questions about your process gaps, your IT gaps and how to fill them quickly and cost-effectively.
* With focus on the customer, how does the business offer end-to-end value stream function?
* Where are customer expectations possibly misinterpreted, leading to failure to meet demands and loss of revenue?
* Where does a process start, but not complete until someone actively intervenes?
* What is consuming so much time?
* Where are resources being allocated poorly?
* Where can custom workflow processes be scaled by support technology to reach targets?
* Where can overly complex dependencies and bottlenecks be simplified to effectively encourage adherence to best practices by all staff?
* Where can IT services be tailored to support user level and business needs?
Smooth IT processes can create capacity as if by magic - no extra staff needed, just better use of their time and skill.
Process variations are red flags
Variations in how you perform processes should be a giant red flag. It means you are not anticipating recurring exceptions, which means you aren't mitigating their impact. A thorough needs assessment lets you design processes, products and management practices to be insensitive to events that are out of your control.
Technology solutions help document how you do things, formalise them into processes - and then help you manage the workflow. They simplify processes by giving you a visual of the complete workflow and store vital knowledge of how your business works now, ensuring all staff is informed and accountable.
When implemented correctly, document management, workflow and process discovery systems never forget, never get bored, never get lazy, never slip off home early on Friday instead of finalising an urgent client delivery.
Optimising processes and making workflows efficient creates a virtuous circle where you reduce business risk, cost and customer losses, while you increase revenue through faster quote-to-cash.
Gerhard Conradie, a certified MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, NT4/2000) and CNE (Certified Novell Engineer, Netware 5), is MD of the Cape Town-based business IT solutions provider Evolv Networks.