Do you have responsibility for business process optimization (BPO) in your organization? Are you partnered closely with your internal and external technology providers and focused on the same BPO objectives? Does your enterprise have BPO mojo?
Total quality management (TQM) zealots were frustrated in the mid-1990s as the new Six Sigma process rose in popularity. In some people’s opinion it wasn’t all that new, it was just different. The return on investment (ROI) shared by the manufacturing segments that incorporated Six Sigma principles into their daily practices had enterprises, in all verticals, rushing to certify their employees as Six Sigma Black Belts and challenging them to incorporate process measurement into delivery and support organizations.
Various adaptations of these early methodologies faded and morphed through the last decade into what is now broadly categorized as “enterprise process performance improvement,” the simple concept of optimizing processes to ensure value and quality delivery of services to customers. It isn’t really new; it is just different. In addition, while enterprise leaders all fundamentally believe in business process improvement, few organizations are able to sustain the resource commitment to bring enough energy and focus into the efforts to find those big pockets of cost reduction or innovation that move the needle on company profitability. So, many enterprises have lost their BPO mojo.
To be able to identify meaningful or measureable improvement, processes need to be defined, documented and have a clear start and finish. The more simple and straight-lined the process is, the better. But many processes are messy, especially in service-oriented enterprises. Some are routine, others are on-demand. Some are contained within a single business unit while others may span across multiple organizations with varying service level objectives. Core processes generally get priority, but non-core processes rarely get the attention they need. When enterprises also have objectives to be nimble and to customize services to fit the needs of their customer’s businesses, the quality manager of the care organization can go crazy trying to keep processes “within control limits.” He/she may have a hard time finding their BPO mojo, month over month.
There are plenty of service-based organizations, consultants and software development companies that will help enterprises with business process improvement. They’ll gladly interview clients to identify their most important satisfaction factors. They’ll try to draw innovative process ideas out of employees through facilitated brainstorming sessions. They’ll look internally at existing processes and try to measure the costs of the activities to help prioritize areas for automation. Identifying and executing on business process initiatives is definitely a combination of art and a science. It’s difficult to say whose approach is better, they are just different. Sometimes you need multiple perspectives and find the common theme between sources.
As a technology and service provider in the customer care space, one of the things I hear most when talking with clients about their quality and satisfaction goals is how high (or low) their confidence is that they are getting every possible bit of value out of the technology and tools they have invested in. We must constantly show proof of the ROI of our services against the client’s objective, and sometimes subjective, measures. Since BPO helps organizations gain higher customer satisfaction, product quality, delivery speed and time to market speed, we find our best success is when our programs closely align with the BPO initiatives of our customers.
The closer we are able to collaborate with the resources who are accountable for improving processes and are empowered to align all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients, the more effective our programs are. We have also found that the more an enterprise has to respond to changing consumer, competitive, market and regulatory demands, the more we can help our clients create competitive advantage. Synchronization between process and technology is where enterprises find their BPO mojo.
Does your enterprise have BPO mojo?