The morning after
What happens after a company has successfully deployed a process in its environment? While many might be forgiven for thinking that completing an implementation is the end result, the reality is it serves as a vital platform for business growth.
Experienced consultants understand the need to design 'wiggle room' in the process.
Even though many hours have been spent methodically planning, mapping, and getting all stakeholders in the company to buy in to the vision of the process, it is just part of the journey.
Similarly, the build phase and the smooth release into business form key steps in the success of the process cycle. And once these elements are completed, many make the mistake of thinking they can move on to the next project.
However, the question that needs to be addressed before moving on to the next 'big thing' is what is going to happen to the process? How will the process survive in the business without its champion at the helm, smoothing over any operational questions that might arise as employees become familiar with it?
Just as change management is essential for any implementation where people are not used to the new technologies, change control focuses on the adoption of a process once it is released into the business.
In reality, this is something that should have been catered for in the planning phase. But, as the old saying goes about the best laid plans, the final process is generally quite different from how it looked when still being designed and the change control being planned for.
Experienced consultants understand the need to design 'wiggle room' in the process that considers any feedback that might change the way the process was originally designed. This avoids overcomplicating a process during inception, before it has had the opportunity to run for a while and minimise any costly reworking.
Ultimately, this ushers in the next phase of the process - that of continual service improvement (CSI). Essentially, this means the process is now available and being used by real people and not just driven by assumptions and historical data. The way users interact with it often bring up quite unique experiences that no testing could accurately cater for.
Taking it to CSI
Feedback needs to be leveraged to analyse the process with a fresh set of eyes, reviewing the original business objects and measuring whether the process is meeting them in the live environment.
Important questions to ask include whether the digital form is really shaving hours off the process compared to the paper-based one; is the user interface enough for people to be productive using the training provided; and does it correspond to the metrics that were set out to be measured when the process began?
This real-world environment will result in small tweaks and modifications needing to be made to get the process just right. However, these corrections do not indicate a failing on the design and implementation phases of the project. Instead, it reflects the unpredictability of the human element. The more experienced consultants will know to expect variances after the go-live date of the process and celebrate when these are minimal.
By putting a CSI strategy together, along with key areas for regular review, possible pain points, and the criteria that need to be measured, the consultant will be ready to move on to the next project.
Time well spent
Providing the process owner with this plan equips the person to add value instead of working only with the metrics and reports the process produces as result. It will enable the owner to understand variances in the data better and gain insight into what needs to be done should there be any issues down the line with the process.
The CSI strategy completes the change control phase with the process owner becoming accountable for it, thanks to having the ability to deliver input and value in meaningful ways.
In the end, spending some extra time after the process is implemented is often the difference between it reaching its return on investment and objective or simply fizzling out a few months down the line. Often, this is not reflective of a bad process design unfit for purpose, but rather the process owner not understanding its intricacies and value it brings to the company.
A good CSI strategy ensures the consultant can hand over the mantle of process champion to someone else and return a few months later to see how it has evolved in ways he/she could not have originally foreseen. And that makes it an essential part of evaluating the success of the project, using that experience and feedback for future process design, implementation, and CSI development.
* Jannie Pretorius is professional services manager at Elingo.