The Importance of Incorporating Process Redesign into Your Organization’s Technology Transformations
Discover the Four Key Process Activities Organizations Cannot Afford to Ignore.
As process consultants, often clients have us assess why technology implementations are delayed or why a new system adoption is not as successful as intended. After conducting over 30 process assessments at Slalom Boston in 2021, our teams have found that technology implementations go awry for one of the following two reasons:
1. There was little to no consideration for current state processes.
2. The current processes were considered but those processes remain siloed, manual, and/or inefficient.
In the first case, organizations assume that their ways of working, people, and culture will quickly adapt to using a new technology or system. However, without a gap analysis that assesses both the current and future state processes, there is an increased risk for unidentified process requirements that could result in frustrating manual workarounds.
In the second case, organizations spend an ample amount of time with business stakeholders understanding the existing processes and translate the current state flows directly into system requirements. However, when teams identify system requirements in silos, process problems can persist within the new technology and lead to higher amounts of custom configuration than necessary.
Although time consuming, it is critical to redesign existing processes, clearly document the gaps between current and future state processes, as well as have consistent communication with relevant business stakeholders. Without these considerations, your technology implementation could result in complicated rework with the potential to negatively impact project timelines, budgets, and adoption.
Four Key Process Activities Organizations Can’t Afford to Ignore.
We have found that the most successful implementations ensure alignment across an organization’s culture, people, processes, and technologies by keeping the following key activities in mind:
1. Understand current state processes and the associated pain points.
- It can be tempting to go straight to your future state visions and goals; however, an understanding of the current state is crucial to setting the foundation for your organization’s future.
- In any technology transformation, it is important to understand your current user experience. Ask questions like: What are the existing burdens? How do users interact with existing technology? How can the current user experience be improved? In these discussions, note any non-value added activities like unnecessary approvals and handoffs, as they should be seriously considered for redesign exercises before building system requirements.
- Consider what is successful today and ensure that those components are preserved in the future state.
2. Build requirements around attainable future state processes.
- Develop your future state processes with optimization, standardization, and automation in mind. Work with business sponsors to identify solutions that will reduce handoffs between team members, eliminate email channel communications, and create additional opportunities for visibility between teams.
- Encourage technology subject matter experts to participate in future state visioning workshops to provide expertise on out-of-the-box systems. When the business understands the available out-of-the-box functionality, it is easier to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for custom development.
- Let your future state processes lead your requirements sessions. Ensure that any identified future state activities are achievable within identified timelines and determine whether they will be released in conjunction with any relevant technologies or not. When organizations do not use requirements to inform future state processes, the gap between an organization’s people, processes, and technology widens.
- Plan for what a release with a minimum viable product (MVP) would look like if for some reason a full future state release is not possible.
3. Conduct a Gap Analysis
- Once you have defined the desired future state, clearly document the gaps between the current and future state processes highlighting areas of change.
- Validate these gaps with the business to ensure that they understand what a future implementation will change, when it will change, and why.
- If a technology is being released in stages, leverage the gap analysis to identify any workarounds or interim processes necessary to keep the flow of people, product, processes, and/or information moving.
4. As your workflow is built into the system, regularly engage users for feedback and demonstrate how the system will change any current processes.
- Clearly communicate any current state changes prior to starting the technology implementation so that all relevant stakeholders and users are aligned and prepared to adopt future state designs.
- Build in continuous feedback loops with all relevant users so that any gaps and pain points can be tracked and closed. Continuous feedback enables teams to work better in agile frameworks and proactively improve systems rather than addressing components only when they have become obsolete or inefficient.
- Evaluate current change management procedures and how your organization or team could benefit from modern change management practices to positively impact adoption.
Technology alone will not address process improvement needs. Adopting a new system may seem as simple as upgrading software or implementing a new functionality. However, without considering the gaps between current and future state processes, your expected results will be jeopardized. Technology leaders and project managers should think critically about the four key areas outlined above and harmonize both technology and processes for successful implementations.
Maren Mellen is an Associate Consultant at Slalom Boston and is passionate about process excellence and the healthcare industry.
Carly Shumrick is a Principal at Slalom Boston, a process expert, and has 7 years of Professional Services Experience.