What brings me here today is Business Performance Improvement. One of those seemingly complex topics especially when organizations are of a considerably large size.
And to my great fortune, being a business analyst has forbidden me from seeing anything complex; especially that Business Process Analysis & Business Process Improvement as they are those emphasized upon objectives of the Business Analyst.
It is what we BAs more or less do for living; we analyze the problems or opportunities in a given context to find solutions, help businesses solve that problem, pave the way to cease the opportunity. And that always involves a ton of business processes improvement efforts.
Most of the time the problem is a problem because someone at some point did something wrong and with time and increased intertwined operational size; it becomes a business crisis.
Perhaps, this is the very reason why I always stress on both observation and critical thinking in business as being the most critical techniques for analysis. What was suitable yesterday may not be suitable today in the same company.
For example organizations which contracted partners or clients 8 years ago and had a single contract signed every month were able to compromise for manual generation of the price list and agreement terms and manually manage the data entry of the contract after signing.
However, if this same booming enterprise today still applies the same manual contract process with a few hundred contracts made every month then they must be suicidal. They surprisingly and unquestionably resolute to hiring additional resources, double and triple the contracts processing team members to write and enter the data for more contracts !!!
Of course you can imagine the likelihood of errors involved; prices of customer or partner A going and being signed by customer or partner B instead. And the hassle consequently generated in the back office operations and the poor finance team fiddling around with mixed-up rates.
Having mentioned that particular example, I would like to highlight that immediate business automation is still a wrong move. The entire business process (despite how simple and trivial it may seem) shall be reevaluated for each activity.
Seek simplicity but don’t assume it
You begin to ask a hundred questions …how are the rates determined? Is there is fixed criteria or a result of a commercial bargain? If so, are there boundaries for the bargainer or he could set prices leading to loss if he really likes that customer? Who is responsible for defining the agreement terms and on which basis? The more questions you raise, the more you reach a atomic reflection of the embedded (often unknowingly hidden) business policy behind the contract processing.
Usually business operations optimization efforts are simple .. very simple.. to the point you can not even believe what a small tiny fix will change in the overall picture. All it really requires is an open mind.. one which can think alone .. as simple as that may sound but unfortunately in the business world, it is extremely uncommon. For some mysterious reason, we tend to abide by what was done as being the optimum and searching for solutions to fix the problems it has caused !! Sorry, I am becoming cynical once again…
So, when someone ( many of those around) makes business performance improvement seem like rocket science .. just smile and ignore them.. it’s complex for them only because they never did it right. Work tightly with your clients from clear aspect such as simplicity and clarity of the process …
When I write those articles I tend to avoid jargon and BA terminology as much as possible because the whole point is delivering knowledge and when your article is full of Terms, Abbreviations and Acronyms .. It is really not going to help you as much. I always prefer the understanding and application process to proceed then stick any label you want on it.. call it STROBE, call it shadowing or observation, call it cause and effect, call it paying attention .. call it as you wish as along you get the thoughts structured then names are just names …
It’s time for a second cup of foamy coffee and some work done..
Written by: Angie M. Eissa, CBAP, MSc BIT, UK
Founder & Managing Partner of Business Borderlines