2012. The year of the London Olympics and the year when the world will, once again, turn its attention to what can be achieved by combining power, speed and agility with commitment and teamwork, and underpin the whole with finely tuned physical processes.
Businesses have much to learn from this. The above characteristics of a world class athlete could just as easily be used to describe an ambitious, high performing company. In both cases, processes are the key enabler, carrying the oxygen and energy that powers the whole and makes it something greater than the sum of its parts.
Improving performance is a critical goal for businesses as well as athletes. External factors such as a globally competitive market place, the impact of emerging technologies, an increasingly stringent regulatory environment and an ever more vocal and empowered customer base are placing new demands on all aspects of business operations.
The rise of online and mobile business models means that large enterprises, mid-sized businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups are now often competing directly with each other. Companies are discovering that to improve performance they need to cut costs while boosting productivity, nurture individual customer relationships while remaining sensitive to privacy concerns, and accelerate financial transactions while minimising the risk of human error or a data breach.
In short, more than ever before businesses need to have mind-set of an athlete. To anticipate, understand and be able to respond rapidly to change.
If we think of processes as the circulatory system carrying the oxygen of information, then business process management (BPM) is the heartbeat that manages its flow across the business. BPM is a well-established field, with an honourable track record in automating and accelerating mission-critical, revenue-bearing business processes.
Using a combination of technical tools and management approaches, BPM helps businesses to improve how work is done, provide better products and service and deliver better business results. However, BPM is not a static discipline, it needs to change and evolve as business needs change and evolve; to harness the potential of the latest technologies and adapt to new business practices.
One of the most exciting recent developments in BPM is the ability to capture data at the point of entry into a business – or even at the point of origination. This new innovation has led to ‘capture-enabled’ BPM; an enhanced approach to process management that recognises that transactions and communications now exist in many different forms and can just as easily come from a field representative with a laptop on the train, a customer with a smartphone at the airport or an employee with a tablet computer at home.
Capture-enabled BPM ensures that any data, regardless of its format, is automatically captured, extracted, validated and classified by the receiving organisation; and made available to the right people, processes or devices, at the right time, and in the right format.
Capture-enabled BPM drastically shortens processing time while improving accuracy and minimising the potential for error or data loss. This in turn improves business productivity, efficiency, fluidity, competitive advantage and customer service. The value of introducing capture-enabled BPM is apparent almost immediately.
However, capture-enabled BPM is not introduced into an operational vacuum, and the existing flow of information through a business is rarely a straightforward one. The larger or older the organisation, the more likely you are to find embedded, legacy processes; understood and cherished by employees who are resistant to change.
There will be differences in the sense of ownership and accountability for information, and opportunities for collaboration or synergy could be missed or rejected. One of the strengths of capture-enabled BPM is that such variety can be accommodated easily; with disparate workflows and databases connected into a single, seamless platform, leaving companies free to focus on redeploying resources to more value-added roles.
The benefits of taking the organisation through this transformational journey are overwhelming. We live in an ‘anything, anytime, anywhere’ world. An athletic business can adapt to this new landscape and seize the opportunities that lie ahead. Innovations such as capture-enabled BPM will be vital in helping them to achieve this. 2012 is a landmark year for the UK; let it be one for your business too.