Rethinking Business Change and Process Paves the Way to Future Success

Change is a part of life. You don’t have to be the strongest or most intelligent to survive. What matters is how well you adapt. And the business world is no exception to this reality.

No matter how often we encounter change, we may be reluctant to give up what we know and accept new ways of living, thinking, or doing. As the pace of our world continues to accelerate, how will we accept the challenge of change and move forward? Will we have enough time to adapt or will we eventually be left behind?

This week’s episode “Future of Process Change: Solutions and Landmines” from The Future of Business with Game Changers, a special edition series of SAP Radio, discusses how the concept of change management has been forever altered by the pace of today’s world. The panel featured Susanne Passante, vice president of Business Integration Services for Day & Zimmerman; Evan Quinn, research director of Information Management at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA); and Michel Sérié, global head of Service Innovation, Global Services, for SAP. 

Design thinking presents an opportunity to be creative and innovative

Susanne Passante kicked off the conversation by reflecting, “Managers have resigned themselves to the assumption that no one is ever going to get the software right, change will never be adopted, and there will always be a gap in expected results. There has to be something else we’re missing – it can’t be just the process that’s failing us.”

Business process reengineering techniques have promised results as long as people work in a deliberate manner and use software in a certain way. Yet, despite a huge investment in training and change management, most people still reinterpret this knowledge based on what needs to get done and end up working around or outside established processes and software. All the while, they believe they’re doing the right things – even though they aren’t. 

Design thinking may be the next evolution of process reengineering because it gets to the heart of how people really work, make decisions, and interact with each other. According to Passante, “There’s something about this approach that makes the software development cycle more creative and personal. Design thinking seems to shortcut the rendering of business requirements, which used to be laborious and frustrating.” 

With a good process design, companies can quickly break through long-standing assumptions and develop a strategic road map for innovating organizational structures, processes, and enabling technology.

If you measure it, you can control it

Evan Quinn continued Passante’s thoughts by noting how the pace of change requires the ability to adapt faster than ever before. “In this day and age, we need to consider the rate of change. Although some of the older techniques for business process management are still useful, they need to increase the rate of adaptability,” he stated. 

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about the Internet of Things and Big Data, as well as the advantages they bring. To turn this data into action, decision makers must understand that there’s no single right decision that’s going to fix it all. “That’s why design thinking works so well. It’s an open-ended, long-term approach that accepts the premise that processes are not static – they’re living, breathing, and consistently evolving,” observed Quinn.

However, Quinn cautioned that it’s one thing to run a session to generate creative ideas. “What we sometimes miss is the ability to continue the idea-generation process when everyone returns to their desks to work. One of the things we do not do is expose process to workers. We don’t know what’s going on. We just see the data and perform,” he speculated. 

By using dashboards, a group of people can see what everyone is doing in the process and how everyone is dealing with a process. Everyone can see the workflow and understand where each person fits in the process, which things may break, and what can be improved on the fly.

It’s never too late to focus on the business user

Michel Sérié conveyed the importance of user-centric business process management. “By involving the user in the process, you’re not limited by technology,” he mentioned. The same process can run in different ways for a variety of roles. With design thinking, organizations don’t run the risk of inventing something that will not be used. 

Sérié suggested, “The use of mobile apps in private life – and the user experience that comes along with it – has radically raised people’s expectations when it comes to usability and design. Simplicity is a key driver for process-related change as it leads to intuitive interactions and reduced training efforts.” Design thinking has reinforced the perspective of desirability in the context of process design, rather than focusing on common factors such as feasibility and viability. As a result, IT is becoming an inspiring innovation partner for the business side. IT departments can better invest their time, money, and resources to innovate existing processes or create new ones to help the company achieve its goals.

Sérié predicted, “By 2025, it’s estimated that 30%–40% of the workforce will be external contractors hired to collaborate with employees on specific projects. This is going to change how we collaborate and work on projects, driving a tribe mentality in how processes are applied to achieve project and business goals.” By leveraging the cloud and newly acquired skill sets, IT areas will be able to drive meaningful innovation for the entire company. 

To listen to a replay of this edition of the Future of Business with Game Changers series, presented by SAP Radio, click here.

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