BPM and Lean – For Many Service Oriented Organizations, Enough to Get Big Improvement Results
Might Continuous improvement (CI) be making a comeback after a several years of being severely cut back or outright eliminated? I think they just might be, and I see it most in service delivery organizations. But, they’re doing it for different reasons and they’re doing it in a different way. Simple and light-weight trumps top-heavy and complex. Near-term wins reign supreme over long-term initiatives.
Why the re-emerging interest? Well, the simple answer is that things are just different than they were, even just a few years ago. I talk to business leaders every day, and I don’t hear we want to start a program to instill a culture of quality and continuous improvement in the company. No, what I hear about are specific business problems, and immense pressure to immediately and inexpensively fix the problems. Feel good corporate initiatives are out …. in the trenches get it done thinking and actions are in.
Problems in service organizations seem to cluster around being able to deliver an increasing service level while maintaining or growing margins, WITHOUT adding headcount. Its do more with less (or at least with what we have). This insight doesnt bode well for the near-term employment outlook, but its what I see nonetheless.
And, its not just the reasons for doing CI that are different. The way business leaders want to do CI is also different. There is almost no appetite for big dollar, infrastructure-heavy corporate initiatives. The focus is almost entirely on quick wins show me the money. Now, I know there are some practitioners out there might say that a focus on near term results is just a recipe for disaster, but I just dont think so. We have to live in the real world, and this world requires a shift in perspective.
So, my argument …. For many service organizations, fundamental Business Process Management (BPM) and Lean combined with some light-weight infrastructure components can make for an incredibly cost-effective way to make near-immediate, high impact improvements and set the stage for long-term sustainable results. A true win-win.
In a services environment, simple BPM and Lean allows you to consistently execute well-defined, low risk, and high impact projects that are clearly aligned with the real goals of the business …. for many, a better path to Continuous Improvement
BPM crystallizes value streams (processes) and establishes measurement systems that clearly identify the highest value gaps in performance, from both customer and business perspectives. These gaps represent business cases, and ultimately, projects. Define a good prioritization approach, and you have a project pipeline.
a BPM Overview presentation
Lean is an inexpensive and highly effective way, then, to execute those projects and close those performance gaps. Now, there is not doubt that not all projects identified will be lean projects. You will for sure find capital projects, six sigma projects, and even some process redesign projects. BUT, my experience is that a significant number of the highest value projects in service and service delivery organizations are indeed Lean projects. They focus on doing more with less, reducing cycle time, or reducing cost. Thats lean.
this short .ppt overview of Lean for Service Operations
BPM and Lean. Done well, you can get near-term results AND set the stage for long-term sustainable results. And, the beauty of it is that it can be very lightweight and cost-effective. Contact me if you want to discuss how this lightweight approach to CI might work for your organization.