Much has already been written about the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in financial services. […]
These days, the field of process improvement is relatively mature. Any large organization has a centralized Business Process Management (BPM) center of expertise or decentralized BPM professionals, involved with designing new processes and improving existing processes, mostly through standardization. This is no wonder, as BPM has proven its value in the last two decades by drastically reducing costs, throughput time and eliminating customer frustrations.
The business process world is growing more complex, however. Customers are increasingly demanding the business processes to be tailored to their unique needs, management attention is focused on emerging technologies like robotics and AI to transform their businesses and many process experts have not been able to position themselves optimally in this changing dynamic. In some cases they are only asked to update the process descriptions after system implementations (often performed by external consultants or system integrators) are fully finished.
Will process experts be able to add value in the following decade? With a new and updated skillset and approach, they can become ready for the road ahead.
So, how do process experts become future-ready?
The future-ready process expert needs to:
- Use a customer centric approach
- Use standardization and customization appropriately
- Practice integral design and improvement
- Leverage new technologies
- Think big, start small
Use a customer-centric approach
Any organization that is able to truly improve the processes from a customer perspective, by eliminating bottlenecks, adding more value or providing a personalized experience, has a large advantage over the competition. So how can you make the difference for your customer on moments that matter? Start by creating a number of personas and drafting customer journeys for the processes at hand. Using this method, the future process is based on what the customer truly values (e.g. the customer does not care about various types of mortgage products, the customer cares about living in a nice and affordable home).
Use standardization and customization appropriately
Don’t you hate processes that seem to be designed with another customer and another situation in mind? Guess what: so do your customers. And in today’s world – by leveraging modern technology – you can offer them an individual approach without paying a price in terms of control or efficiency. Nobody will argue against the standardization of back-office processes, as it is a logical step to simplify the relevant processes and supporting systems. Try to facilitate unique customer journeys where needed, make sure your mid-office processes adapt to your customers’ key characteristics and standardize the processes that are not customer-facing and not strategic in nature.
Practice integral design and process improvement
In most companies, process improvement initiatives are focused on the improvements that are possible without changes in the system landscape – system changes traditionally take a long time and many process improvement methodologies are aimed at realizing gains on the short term. This limits the impact of these process improvement initiatives. Similarly, business process experts are often insufficiently involved in IT changes, resulting in suboptimal IT sourcing and IT design decisions. The current agile application delivery trend is an excellent vehicle to drive the integral design of processes, applications and organizations. Applying integral design can lead to large short term and long term effects.
Leverage new technologies
Robots will not take over your job. Artificial Intelligence is still a very long way away from having a better understanding of your job than you have. But the potential to delegate simple and repetitive tasks to robots or receive decision support from specialized AI-powered assistants is very real. There are many new technologies available. Between emerging AI capabilities, robotic process automation and low-code platforms, there is a solution (or combination of solutions) for any process. For business process experts it is time to become familiar with the potential that modern technologies offer and to identify which capabilities your business process requires. Take small steps, combining the use of emerging technologies, manual work and traditional automation appropriately.
Think big, start small
The majority of big transformational projects fail to deliver the expected results and take much more time and money than originally planned. In today’s world, small is beautiful. But how do you ensure that your small improvements complement each other in a way that is transformational in the long term? Start with a Minimum Lovable Product, as a Minimum Viable Product is not sufficient for front-end, high customer demand processes. Keep the big picture in mind, including the end-state architecture, required capabilities and roadmap, and deliver incrementally.
While traditional process improvement techniques still have their merit, process experts can become future-ready by embracing new design and delivery methods and technologies and defining small customer centric improvement projects, to drive added value for both the customer and the business itself. Given the new possibilities provided by emerging technologies, what small change could you make in your customer’s process?