Being tasked with improving operational processes is a bit like being asked to solve an eternal conundrum. As enterprises become increasingly complex and work flows between different departments, teams, employees, external suppliers, systems and applications, how do you know where to start?
Tasked with stripping out costs while improving the efficiency of the business, shared service organizations (SSOs) are facing a difficult challenge: where to invest and where to cut back. In this blog post, we’re going to help you identify and overcome four of the biggest hurdles obstructing your path to operational excellence.
1. Invisibility of processes
As we become increasingly digitized, it can be even easier to lose track of what is going on. Years ago, piles of paper on desks were an indication of work to be completed. Now, everything exists in digital form, and it can be easy to miss a customer case, or a purchase order stuck in the system.
2. Partial view of processes
For many processes, there is the added challenge of multiple people, teams, departments or indeed even companies coming together to deliver it. This complexity results in a partial or distorted view of the process.
3. Sudden or constant change to processes
As priorities move and elements of a process adapt, whole processes alter to respond to this flux. So, even if your procedures are well documented, they are likely to become outdated quickly as things are always moving in business.
4. Subjective view of your processes
Finally, everyone has their own picture of a process. Depending on your role and perspective, it can seem wildly different from one stage to the next; and for many, this becomes an infuriating exercise. You’re trying to piece together potentially wholly inaccurate and entirely subjective viewpoints into an objective picture, then trying to find ways to improve upon it.
With these significant obstacles obstructing your view on where to make improvements, you can be forgiven for not knowing where to look. For example, how do you know whether your processes for order handling or customer delivery are running smoothly? Are there bottlenecks slowing product delivery to your customers? Are elements of the process duplicated due to handling errors and delaying expected delivery dates?
The first thing you need to do is gain total transparency of the end-to-end process to visualize what is happening. If you can’t see it, you won’t know where to improve it. And if you don’t know where to improve it, you’ll be guessing at how to make it better.
The best way to gain the visibility you need is with process mining technology. “We had a guess where we could be weak,” says Thomas Reichmann, Process Optimization Lead at SCHUKAT. But, with process mining, “we have seen where we have built ourselves unnecessary problems in our processes. This is vital for us because a wholesale company ultimately has only its processes as an optimization tool for competitiveness.”
Eliminating subjectivity and giving you complete transparency into how your business is running, process mining single-handedly eliminates all four of the biggest challenges to making sustainable process improvement. As Nikki Spillers, Director of Business Shared Services at Chart Industries, Inc puts it: "Celonis process mining technology eliminates a lot of the guesswork, which means that you start with a lot of these questions answered. When you look at your process with total visibility, along with all of the deviations from the desired process path, you can determine what issues or manual steps are causing the majority of your deviations, and focus your time on finding solutions. Cutting out the unnecessary exploratory meetings allows you to fix issues quickly and cut right through the noise.”
Bringing together disparate data sets from all elements of your SSO, process mining technology provides a visual representation of how your business is working. As data flows from one department to the next, the digital footprint is tracked, giving business leaders unrivalled visibility into where to find cost savings without losing headcount.
To find out more about how process mining technology can turn your SSO into a digital powerhouse, check out the Shared Services & Outsourcing Network's report on Process Mining.