With transformation and disruption the “new norm” for businesses and shared service organizations (SSOs), continually delivering efficiencies and cost reductions in a shifting environment is no easy task. You must balance business objectives with the working lives of your teams, traversing a path that keeps you on target while simultaneously making it easier for your teams to do their jobs.
Identifying which processes to automate and recognizing which will generate real value-add for the business has no doubt caused many heated discussions. Many of which will have been conducted based on gut feeling, partial or incomplete data, and based upon what the competition may be doing.
In this blog post, we will lay out a four-step process that will not only help you hit your objectives today, but create an SSO powerhouse ready to lead transformation and operational excellence for the future.
Step 1: Gain access to data to see how processes are running
Since SSOs work with multiple departments and internal teams, often located around the world, the level of digitization is already reasonably high. Successful operations on this scale rely on digital information since it can be shared quickly and simply around the globe. What is surprising, however, is how limited the use of that higher level of digitization is leveraged by SSOs to transform processes. With a wealth of data available, there are significant opportunities to analyze the performance of all business processes to highlight bottlenecks, errors, rework and a whole host of other issues that could be slowing down the performance of the business.
Your first step should be to track down these digital footprints and follow their trail to thoroughly analyze what’s going on with your processes. As Peter Evans, Continuous Improvement Director for Business Services at Lego once told us, “Data is incredibly important. It is at the bottom of the triangle. Data turns into information, turns into knowledge and then turns into wisdom...It all starts with data.”
Step 2: Analyze end-to-end datasets
Once you have collected all the data, the next step is to analyze it, filtering out erroneous information and focusing on what matters. This is the most complicated step and one that you may require the most support with. Process mining technology can help you significantly with this step, connecting disparate data sets and providing detailed visual maps of exactly how each process is being carried out across your organization.
“Process mining is really about an ability to get underneath the skin of what’s going on,” said Evans. “We get lots of points of view and lots of perspectives and assumptions from people about what’s going on. Process mining gets you down to the next level where you can see what’s actually going on. Where you can break some of those assumptions, where you can have good data, and good evidence to prove that we could improve this process.”
Step 3: Move from analysis to transformation
Now that you have end-to-end transparency across your processes, you can begin to identify opportunities for automation, like robotic process automation (RPA). You can see in a matter of minutes what can traditionally take days to pull together, exactly where your processes are held up, where efforts are duplicated or where things are just falling through cracks. This unobstructed view will allow you to find the low-hanging fruit and areas primed for transformation.
Step 4: Provide ownership and incentives
The final step is to build a governance model around operational excellence and process improvements that establishes accountability. Only with this last step can projects come to fruition and lasting enhancements be made to the business. It also helps solidify the SSO as an integral powerhouse supporting core business functions. For example, Vodafone was able to raise its perfect purchase order level to 85% with Celonis, saving the business millions of dollars, eliminating rework and streamlining its purchase-to-pay processes.
Process mining technology allows for total ownership of entire processes and continuously monitors performance in real time. Now, you can identify areas of poor performance and the root causes of it, and formulate opportunities for improvement. Therefore, process redesign becomes more straightforward, and the impact becomes visible immediately.
For more information on using process mining technology to cut complexity, increase automation and elevate process owners as the heroes of your business, check out the Shared Services & Outsourcing Network's report on Process Mining.
Southard Jones is Celonis’ VP, Product Marketing. Prior to Celonis, Southard held various executive product and marketing roles at enterprise software companies in the Business Intelligence, Analytics, and Data Science market, including Domino Data Lab, Birst, Right 90, and Siebel Analytics.