Every business process improvement effort must demonstrate proven, valued, business benefits (PVBB)
All the work done to document, analyze, improve, and manage business processes must result in proven, valued, business benefits. If this is not the result, then all this work is waste and should be eliminated. That would be more than a little embarrassing.
Amidst all the process work is an important challenge question that should be addressed regularly: “What has been achieved through our business process work so far?” Answers may identify deliverables such as:
- Documented the process architecture
- Modeled lots of processes
- Identified process KPIs and targets
- Set up process governance mechanisms
- Delivered process improvement projects
- Trained many people in business process activities
That’s all very important and necessary work but it can’t be the objective. It would be much better to identify outcomes including:
- Customer satisfaction was 60%, now 90%
- Process errors eliminated in producing invoices
- 95% of 1st offers now accepted (was 65%)
- Time to issue permit reduced by 50%.
Being able to report quantifiable outcomes can enable business process efforts to deliver proven benefits that enhance organizational performance and are therefore valued by the organization. Doing so demonstrates that the work has been useful, well beyond simply using the tools and artifacts of analysis.
The acronym PVBB (proven, valued, business benefits) defines not just target outcomes but the mindset and approach that will enable such outcomes. It makes the ultimate purpose clear right from the start, shaping all the efforts to understand and improve the performance of business processes.
Explaining PVBB – Proven Valued Business Benefits
Show me the data. If there is no evidence, the improvement didn’t happen. Don’t ask for an act of faith. Don’t just show the artifacts. Show the hard, objective, quantitative evidence of process performance improvement that makes a difference to organizational performance.
Also, prove to leaders that the performance data is credible, and the data collection method is reliable and repeatable. Prove that this is a system of sustainable performance management, not just an isolated episode.
Life is too short to waste time on arguments about data quality and whether a process performance improvement happened. Support conclusions with proven, demonstrated accurate results.
If a process is worth being under active management, then the team should know enough about it to report on past and current performance levels continually and reliably and predict future performance—all based on irrefutable data.
Delivered benefits must be genuinely valued by the business leaders, not just the process practitioners. If someone outside the Business Process Management (BPM) team didn’t get excited about the delivered benefit, then it’s not much of a benefit.
The hard evidence that an internal business unit or decision maker values the outcomes of process improvement work will be that they recommend the approach to others, they come back for more assistance, and/or they are supportive in discussions about further commitment to, and funding of, process management and improvement initiatives across the organization.
Change should also be valued by those the organization serves, the customers and other stakeholders. This won’t apply to every change but if, for example, a process change is aimed at improving the customer experience, then it is essential to rely on the advice of the customers to know if the change has been effective. Similarly, a change aimed at improving regulatory compliance must also be valued by the regulator.
Process improvement must deliver valued improvement, and that value can only be determined by the intended recipient, not the BPM team.
If the value is not apparent, then it either was not delivered or was not properly explained and in either case further work is required.
Too much process improvement work fails to deliver the intended benefits because nobody cared enough to make the effort required to realize the change.
Valued process performance improvements will relate to some important aspect of organizational performance for the business’ improvement. The change should relate unambiguously to the enhanced achievement of an important strategic or operational objective. How has the change improved strategy execution, i.e., delivering products, services, and experiences to customers and other stakeholders?
A process improvement worth having will make the organization more successful.
Few changes will have significant, disruptive effects but every change must have a measurable effect on the business operation. If the team cannot identify those effects, then there is something lacking in knowledge of the business process, or how the business operates, or how it manages data to support results.
Keep it real. Decision makers in organizations are not sitting around waiting for the process folks to turn up with a new idea. They are dealing with the complicated, messy business of planning and management to achieve business goals. They’ll be keen to hear about improvement ideas but will likely have little capacity for speculative experimentation.
Hard evidence of previous success will get their attention. Think about how to display, perhaps incrementing in real time, the cumulative total of financial savings to date from all process improvements. Now that would attract attention!
A process improvement must be a solution to a current business problem, an avoidance of an emerging problem, or the fulfilment of a real opportunity.
Proven, valued, business benefits. For a process improvement to be real and worthwhile it must be a benefit to the business, it must be about the business, and be valued by the business, not through an act of faith but because of proven process performance data. The difference between an opinion and a fact is proof. Demonstrate proven valued business benefits with real, measurable results.
A version of this article originally appeared at https://bit.ly/TregearBPM_Resources