When the Titanic sank, researchers furiously worked to determine the causes, so all future ocean liners could safely transport passengers. When an organization experiences an operational disruption, it should work just as furiously to determine root causes, so it can learn from its mistakes. Often, these mistakes are related to business process management.
Excavating the Wreckage
Here’s what you might find in the wreckage of an operational disruption:
- Low morale among employees
- Heavy customization and/or software functionality inadequate for your business requirements
- Low benefits realization
- Broken glass
Learning From Failure
Don’t let your operational disruption discourage you from attempting business process management again. While it can be a daunting process fraught with risk, it’s the only way your organization can grow and innovate. Here’s how you can learn from your mistakes.
Whenever you experience failure in any area of life, your first order of business is to take a deep breath and forgive yourself and others. Only then, can you have a clear head to focus on the facts without allowing emotion to determine your path forward.
You can conduct a lessons learned meeting to review project deliverables. While you want to focus on causes, it also is important to look at effects. Quantifying the direct and indirect costs in terms of time and money will give you an idea of the benefits you’ll need to realize to achieve a positive ROI on failure.
Sharing lessons learned with the entire organization creates a culture of transparency and trust. Every department has something to learn from the post-mortem so be sure to spread the knowledge and empower employees to help you succeed in future initiatives.
Components of Successful Business Process Management
While it’s normal to experience a decrease in productivity after implementing new business processes, operational disruptions can be avoided by developing an effective business process management plan.
Business Process Mapping
This involves mapping your current state business processes at a high level, while looking for pain points and opportunities for improvement. There are several degrees of improvement you can choose. Maybe you just want to remove waste. Maybe you’re striving for ultimate efficiency. In rare cases, you may want a radical change where you start from scratch. Once you’ve improved, optimized or reengineered each of your processes, it’s time to map your future state. If you’re implementing new technology, you’ll want to map these future state processes in granular detail to serve as the basis of your software selection.
Organizational Change Management
As mentioned earlier, implementing new business processes often causes a decrease in productivity. Organizational change management can reduce the degree of this productivity drop and shorten its duration. Business process management cannot succeed without customized training and targeted employee communication, both of which should begin before software selection.
A mentality of continuous improvement will ensure that your processes remain optimized overtime and evolve with the needs of your organization. Setting KPIs will allow you to regularly measure performance and determine when processes need further improvement.
Understanding the Wreckage
Now that we know what successful business process management looks like, let’s go back to the wreckage, and see if it makes more sense.
Low morale among employees
If employees are resisting organizational changes, you may have neglected to map your current and future state business processes and identify gaps for training purposes.
Heavy customization and/or software functionality inadequate for your business requirements
If your software doesn’t fit your needs and requires extensive customization, you may have allowed software vendors to wow you with shiny new features instead of scripting the demo based on your business requirements.
Low benefits realization
If your business transformation delivers fewer benefits than anticipated, you may have failed to improve key processes with the most potential to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Or, you may have standardized processes that should be competitive differentiators.
What’s Your ROI on Failure?
Today, we’re better at saving people from shipwrecks, and this is partially due to what we’ve learned from the sinking Titanic. While these lessons learned could never outweigh the loss of life, operational disruptions are different. An operational disruption could eventually bring enough benefit to your organization to outweigh the damage. If you follow our tips for learning from failure and our steps to successful business process management, you can begin to transform your organization and achieve your vision. Your ROI on failure is up to you.