Business Process Consulting is like going for an annual physical. Even though everything may appear to be fine, you visit the Doctor to update your current condition. The Doctor compares your current general physical condition by reviewing benchmarks such as blood pressure, weight, and heart health. The Doctor then advises you to stay the course, or that perhaps you need to make some lifestyle changes. The results of the more advanced tests may indicate a serious problem that needs immediate attention. With this information you confidently leave the Doctor’s office with a plan of action.
A Business requires exactly the same form of annual review to make sure that the operations are running as efficiently as possible and that no serious problems exist.
A Business Process Review should encompass the entire company from the lowest level employee up through Senior Management. This will reveal volumes of information so that any significant road blocks to employee productivity can be identified.
A perfect example of this is in action is the reality show called, “Undercover Boss.” Each week the CEO of a well-known company goes undercover in a variety of jobs, from janitor to manager, throughout his or her company. The CEO experiences firsthand, both the inherent good and in some cases, the extreme dysfunction in the company. The experience is both enlightening and overwhelming. The CEO walks away with a deep understanding of what is and is not working. Most importantly, the CEO has the Knowledge and the Power to immediately effect change in the company and usually does.
In the majority of companies, going “undercover” is not an option. The solution: Engage in Business Process Consulting, preferably with an external Consultant who can be undercover in plain sight. Staff people are generally more comfortable talking with an independent outside party than internal management. The Consultant’s initial purpose is to listen, observe, document, and report. Then, to discuss with Management possible changes in procedures, many of which may come directly from the Staff responsible for doing the specific tasks or from the expertise of the Consultant.
Business and Financial Reporting, an area usually of significant interest to Middle Management, is where Business Process Consulting really shines. Many companies have disparate systems which make it difficult to pull together data for advanced reporting. In one Business Process Consulting Engagement I recently completed, the Manager had to access five different systems to compile the data in to a Quarterly Board Meeting Report. Only three of the five systems were able to produce the data in a format that could be used with a spreadsheet program. (i.e. Microsoft Excel.) The other two could only produce printed paper reports which required the Manager to re-enter the data by hand in to the spreadsheet.
The Financial Systems were never combined or integrated after the creation of a new division and a merger. The paper reports were from an outdated, unsupported, legacy system where only limited knowledge remained in how to generate reports.
Senior Management was completely unaware of the challenges faced by the Manager responsible for the Quarterly Board Report because he was able produce it as requested. After Senior Management was made aware of the system incompatibilities and the incredible amount of time involved to create the report, they immediately addressed the problem. (I was engaged to find a short term solution – tools that allow disparate systems to “talk” to each other – and a long term solution – which was a completely new Financial Reporting System.)
Senior Management frequently complains that they do not have enough insight in to the metrics (i.e. Sales Data, Expenses, Return on Investment, Cost of Capital, Inventory Data, etc.) to manage the “Big Picture.” Put simply, “Data is going in to the company but is not coming out in a useful format.”
In the normal course of business, thousands of transactions and interactions are generating massive amounts of data. Companies may not have the Systems to properly analyze and manage the data to enable it to become useful information.
Business Process Consulting unlocks the body of knowledge trapped inside a Company by analyzing how the data is generated and reported. Armed with this knowledge, Management then has the power to effect change to improve efficiency and productivity.