process management

My first real change program was to review and optimise our current processes back in 2010. I had little to no experience in process management but as a control freak I started to learn and love process management very quickly.

The biggest problem at that time was that we had a small amount of real processes. None of them was properly documented and we had no clear process owners. So, we almost had a black sheet to start with, for improving our process management.

I had the privileged to define my own “tiger team” and was able to select the best employees from all departments across Europe to support me with this change program.

We first started to identify the needed processes based on the signed off new company’s strategy. We split the processes in four different parts:

  1. Strategic process: 1-3 years (e.g. Strategic definition)
  2. Tactical processes: 3-12 months (e.g. Sales planning, product development)
  3. Operational processes: Day-to-Day (e.g. Sales & delivery)
  4. Support processes: Day-to-day (e.g. HR and support)

The first success was reviewing an old process of program implementation, whereby the end goal was to decrease the current time it took from signature to go live by 75%! This was a very ambitious target but not impossible. First step was actually to start documenting the current process and talk with a lot of stakeholders that are involved in the process; sales, support teams, partners, clients, finance, local account managers in order to understand where the ‘waste’ is in this process. We quickly saw all the bottle necks in the process and together with all the stakeholders we created a new process which was signed off by all of them. Great first step and we celebrated the success……but very quickly we realised that almost nobody followed the new process, only 5% of the stakeholders. That’s where real change management come in and I started to learn about the Elephant and the Rider. See pitfall number four (4).

The fasted learnings are always when you fail fast and adapt your ways of working based on the feedback and behaviour. Based on this fast failing we were able to roll out multiple new business processes across the whole company in Europe.

We build the following processes:

  • 10 steps sales, delivery and support process – this process was the basis for the CRM implementation one year later
    • Lead and sales process
    • Client Management process
    • Support & implementation process
  • Product Development Process
    • Product Life Cycle, from idea to end of life
  • Program Life cycle
    • Programs / clients from sales to end of life
  • HR processes
  • Strategic processes
  • Change management processes
  • Financial / Billing processes
  • Sales & Marketing planning
  • Performance management
  • Budget planning
  • Recruitment & Career planning process

We never followed purely one of the famous process management methodologies, but we always used a combination, or what we called the based part of these processes:

  • Kaizen
  • Six Sigma (DMAIC)
  • Lean
  • Scrum / Kaban
  • Agile
  • Design thinking

The same goes for the change management process to implement the new and updated process. We also used a combination of different change processes like:

  • Elephant & the Rider
  • ADKAR model
  • Lewin’s change management model
  • McKinsey’s 7-S model
  • Kotter’s theory
  • Kubler-Ross’ change curve

My biggest learnings from developing and implementing business processes:

  • Communicate clearly the reason WHY the process is needed
  • Clear understanding of the purpose of a process
  • Clear definition of the process
  • Appoint a strong process owner and define a clear definition of what is expected from a process owner
  • Every process should positively change the behaviour of the process users
  • Clear KPI’s – To be able to optimize the process efficiency and effectiveness
  • Clear Roles & Responsibilities – To make sure that the process is working in its optimal way
  • Clear criteria to pass the toll gates (what questions do we need to ask ourselves in order to pass the gates)

Business process management

Processes are great and can smoothen the business, but they need to be used with care, like Jeff Bezos say:

“Good process serves you, so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing”