Charting a New and Improved Path for Business Processes

Looking at the exploits of great sailors of the past, it is hard to believe that they had a very limited idea of ​​their position at sea. While the astrolabe, sextant and extended charts and tables they used were well established , they relied on an hourglass or water clock for accuracy, and a reading or routine error could result in a navigational disaster.

Until the 1930s, sailors used the same methodology, updated with modern watches, but essentially still a series of manual readings and complicated mathematics.

The problem with this approach was drift. Each reading established a point on the map at that time, but there was no way they could be sure between readings that they were in fact still on track.

If they encountered a storm or were unable to observe the constellations of the sun, moon, or stars, then their position became less certain. Discrepancies between readings were unknowns that could stretch the nerves of even seasoned sailors when in uncharted waters.

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When we consider the operations of our organizations, it is essential to know exactly where we stand in the rapidly changing business world. Competitive advantage can sometimes be measured in days, with customer feedback and product updates being shared almost instantly around the world.

Borrowing from great explorers, our companies are constantly navigating between reefs, seeking elusive passages to better opportunities.

That’s why occasionally checking our route on outdated maps won’t work.

A number of factors can cause an organization to drift away from peak productivity. Staff movements alter team dynamics and introduce challenges for onboarding and training. Leadership changes may affect the implementation of strategic direction, and acquisitions or accelerated growth may overwhelm existing organizational structures and practices.

The use of process manuals developed years ago and limited to paper will also become an issue. If anyone even thinks to reference them, the documentation is probably outdated or hard to decipher. As for navaids, these are maps that are dated quickly and cannot give you an accurate idea of ​​current conditions.

Waiting for a quarterly review or an annual audit may leave it too late to grasp the effects of these kinds of challenges. By the time they’re recognized, you’re already out of the race, or worse, among the rocks.

Map out a course that teams can follow

Modern navigation changed dramatically in the 1930s with the invention of shipboard radar and later with the evolution of satellite positioning. Suddenly sailors had a way to accurately see their position at all times, in real time. The benefits of a GPS system are obvious, as it means there is no doubt at any time about where sailors are and where they are going.

This is what an effective process management platform gives your business, a clear picture of your organization’s direction and progress.

Good process management allows you to understand the key functions that drive your business. When these processes are made accessible and understandable by a digital process platform, you increase user engagement and improve the efficiency of these processes.

By using real-time feedback loops and opening conversations about improvement within the processes themselves, you ensure that you are able to constantly course-correct your business to achieve the best results.

When things go wrong, the availability and updating of digital processes ensures that weak points or failures are quickly identified and corrected. A good platform will notify stakeholders when issues are identified and allow them to engage in the improvement process.

Real-time reporting also ensures things don’t go off the rails. While routine check-ins and cycle reports are important practices, a great process platform allows managers to see at a glance how processes are working and where attention needs to be directed.

Clarity around process ownership and involvement ensures that everyone can be certain of what is expected of them at all times.

World trade as we know it exists thanks to the efforts of brave seafarers over the centuries. It is effective to this day, however, thanks to modern tools that make it safe, efficient and reliable.

Just as businesses continue to follow many hackneyed paths to success, modern tools like effective process management platforms will improve those practices and set your business on a path to continued success.

Do you agree with Kohlenbach’s comparison between business process trajectory and navigation optimization? Let us know in the comments below.

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