Changing Wheels While Still In The Race . . . Lessons Learned From Process Excellence

I’m at IQPC's Financial Services conference in New York listening to Brenton Harder, MD and head of operational excellence at Credit Suisse. He's clearly got a lot of experience under his belt that is worth sharing. Here are some BPM lessons learned based on his experience working in multiple businesses:

  1. Businesses must move from static BPM to a dynamic community with a clear customer focus. He believes BPM practitioners need to own the customer experience and even become chief customer officers. He also thinks “outside in” BPM hasn’t been customer-centric enough. Focusing on the customer requires more than thinking about inputs and outputs to a process; instead, it involves really digging in and understanding the end-to-end business process from the customer’s vantage.
  2. Continuous improvement, or Kaizen, is fundamentally sound, but sometimes you must go faster than that. For example, in financial services, regulatory requirements are moving faster than ever, and customer expectations are increasing at a faster pace, requiring process experts to move faster than most continuous improvement methodologies and tools support.
  3. Static BPM is too slow. Legacy tools — even BPM software — provide a static work environment, making it difficult to scale and support change. It’s critically important to look at new ways to automate processes in a more dynamic way — adding social, for example.
  4. BPM should address the entire spectrum of work. Harder thinks 20% of work is purely structured, leaving 80% of work that involves manual work that may not be as buttoned down. It’s this 80% of work that needs a dynamic tool.

I agree with these points, particularly with the criticality of developing processes from the customer’s perspective, and the need for automating a dynamic work environment. As the diagram below represents, Forrester believes that a higher percentage of work involves straight-through processing or predictable processes, but that the smaller percentage of unpredictable work is much harder to support but provides distinct opportunities for customer differentiation. That makes these dynamic processes strategic for BPM initiatives.