Monday, 26 October 2015

Bringing Agility to Unstructured and Semi-Structured Processes

In any business environment there are processes that follow a set pattern or flow. These are structured processes that are done repeatedly and are more transactional in nature. Most companies use ERPs or other packaged software to handle these. However, there are nearly an equal number of processes that are loosely structured and are more ad-hoc in nature. These are the semi-structured and unstructured processes. Wonder what they may be? How many times have things been emailed back and forth with attachments of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, PDF documents etc.?
There doesn’t seem to be a way to ‘structure’ these unstructured and semi-structured processes. The information is scattered around in various silos, repositories and emails and necessitates a search for constructing the whole picture. As companies are grappling with their digital transformation strategy, it is becoming necessary to include customers and vendors as part of their business processes to better react to market needs.
Let’s look at some of the challenges in dealing with these semi-structured and unstructured processes. For the products and services of today, there is increasing complexity and increased channels that transcend departmental/ business unit/ company boundaries.  Most of the solutions adopted are sub-optimal and lack agility.  There is poor insight into the work process and non-integrated sources of information. This leads to bottlenecks and information blackouts. The volume and velocity of information is growing and is causing information overload. Another key, yet often overlooked aspect is the shrinking of critical expertise and knowledge atrophy with the turnover in personnel.  How can the company retain the institutional knowledge of these processes?

In order to deliver a better customer experience, react quickly to crises and business opportunities, new regulations and audit requirements; business needs the ability to handle  people driven process in an agile manner. It typically takes 1 – 2 months for an overworked IT department to come up with solutions to modify existing business processes. How can one integrate multi-channel communication for information governance and un-integrated tasks? Can there be solutions that can be rapidly deployed, with low overhead of maintenance and less reliance on IT? With millennial generation entering the workforce, work styles have evolved to be more reliant on social collaboration networks and mobility.

Creating dynamic workflows, integrated multi-channel communication and messaging, centralized content access and the capability to use Lean, Six-Sigma, Kanban and Agile type project management methods, coupled with social collaboration, mobile capability, ease of use and the ability for business to make changes without reliance on IT will enable companies to bring agility to their unstructured and semi-structured processes.

Bringing agility to your business processes using effective collaboration delivers real business impact.