At the US events of the Superfluid World Tour, I met many executives from a wide range of industries. One of them was the leader of fulfillment for one of the largest distributors of high-tech electronics components – serving the world's most successful companies (like Apple or Google).
She was open about the strategic initiatives of her company: "Our goal is clear: We need to improve our customer experience, we need better on-time and in-full delivery. But we can only achieve this if we can get smarter about our order-to-delivery process, remove friction and drive each decision to better on-time delivery. But with our internal processes and systems, and the legacy approach behind them, it’s hard."
That’s what sticks with me months after our Superfluid Tour has ended: Executive leaders are realizing that external business performance, like customer experience, earnings/share and employee satisfaction, need internal process excellence to be achievable.
The world is increasingly pivoting to process as a driver of business outcomes. There are a significant number of technologies and vendors competing for mindshare: Process Mining, BPM, RPA,Task Mining (Client-side Analytics), Process Documentation, Decision Optimization (next-best-action), low-code app development, workflow automation, and the list continues. Process is the new hot space!
It doesn’t come as a surprise that each of these markets has a growing number of vendors. And to me, it’s even less of a surprise that the growth of Process Mining is leading the field in the Process Excellence space, ahead of RPA. This is an emerging space, which only just a few years ago had little mindshare and recognition. Yet, at the beginning of this year, Forrester dedicated its entire Now Tech Report to Process Mining and Documentation.
Having mentioned RPA, it’s safe to say that the idea of robots taking our jobs gathers media attention. But this shouldn’t blind business executives. The on-the-ground reality is that in many cases, it doesn’t improve business outcomes and ROI doesn’t come as fast as expected. Moreover, a 2018 EY study found that somewhere between 30%-50% of RPA initiatives fail. Rob Koplowitz from Forrester writes, “Digital transformation isn’t about automating your existing processes.” (Click here to download the report!)
Unsure of how exactly to get started? Following the companies who are doing it right is always a good start. Within Order-to-Cash, global player Siemens, for example, has increased its automation rate by 24% and reduced rework by 11%, resulting in 10 million fewer manual touches per year. They didn’t achieve this by simply automating their processes. They achieved this by having a clear idea of how their processes were truly running, constant enhancement and monitoring, and by letting people themselves decide what should be automated – based on full knowledge over their company’s inner workings.
What we see is that companies like Siemens are taking a structured and intelligent approach, based on Process Mining Technology. We call this approach Discover, Enhance, Monitor.
First, you have to know how your processes are performing. To quote again from Rob Koplowitz, you first need to “provide objective analysis into the current state of business processes.” Discover is the magic word.
Once you have the full picture, the next step is enhancing your process. This can be done in many ways,with next-best action recommendations, new ERP configurations, system workflow automation, RPA and changing or eliminating individual process steps. For example, a top 10 manufacturer achieved $78M impact by predicting the optimal time to pay with next-best action recommendations. Or, for example, Uber re-engineered the way they handle certain types of tickets to drive higher customer satisfaction.
Process Excellence initiatives won’t have half as much impact without showing their objective value. Monitoring ensures that your initiative is tied to KPIs and the business outcome. More often than not, a process isn’t fully optimized after your first actions. Process Excellence is no one-time affair. It requires continuous documentation and dedication to unleash the full potential of your processes.
For those who want to achieve Process Excellence with their company, join our webinar with Rob Koplowitz, where he and I will discuss:
How the process mining market has evolved and what that means for companies exploring process mining
How companies are using process mining to drive successful digital transformation initiatives
How a “Discover, Enhance, Monitor” framework empowers companies to “fully exploit a digital world.”