Driving process efficiencies and implementing standard operating procedures have been central focuses for businesses and their consultants working on digital transformations. A broad spectrum of methodologies emerged as a result of these initiatives: Six Sigma, Agile and CMMI, just to name a few. These approaches might help you understand that you don’t need 10 steps (just eight) and also influence team and skills designs — all good things.
However, we’re now adopting and leveraging new platforms to digitally render our business environments with the ability to wrap data and content intelligence around our workflows. Redesigning our ways of working has necessitated these new center points.
But many value opportunities related to workflow redesigns are less obvious. Sometimes, workers go off the beaten path of standard operating procedures. Human-machine interactions are stronger and more commonplace than ever. And the business world is an increasingly dynamic place.
As a result, information technology has already moved toward workflow-oriented solution designs from a relatively short stay with service-oriented architectures (SOA). This shift calls for a better approach, and this is where process mining and workflow visualization could help.
Process mining digitizes the workflows used to get things done. And it recognizes the nuances, sequences and priorities involved in a workflow. Workflow visualization visually depicts every part of the process and may lead to recommendations of different procedural hops. Workflow visualization can also provide content intelligence through usable and living graphics. This new generation of visualization can help you better understand where your breakage points are and where your benefits could be.
Supply chain and logistics, consumer goods, manufacturing and travel and transportation are the early adopters of dynamic workflow approaches leveraging the Industry X.0 paradigm. These businesses are using these approaches to transform their operations.
But how can you adopt process mining? And how can you use workflow visualization and content intelligence engines to improve your company? Here’s my advice on how to use these approaches to transform your business.
Challenge The Notion Of Standard Operating Processes
Consider how insurance businesses work. An insurance agent or underwriter is supposed to follow specific procedures when a customer has a claim. If somebody’s house burns down or a tree falls on their car, the insurance representative should complete a certain set of actions.
But how do you know that the agent is exactly following the procedures? How do you validate and balance subjective versus objective assessments? How do you know that the risk is being assessed the right way? The answer is that you don’t know using the traditional approach.
Avoid getting too comfortable with how your current environment looks and feels. Your current approach may not be the best way to run your business and serve your customers. Digitize your processes by using process mining, and then look at hardening your processes with automation.
You can use process mining to determine how you’re actually doing something, what its runtime is and the efficiency level of your work methods. Process mining can also help you understand when and if someone has gone off of the beaten path on your standardized process and what the cost implications are. You may be surprised at the set of next-best actions that emerge.
Replace Run Books With Dynamic Workflows
The technology arena is almost always the starting point of automation and standard operating process efforts. Businesses rely on operational blueprints called IT run books, which are highly automated. The challenge here is the static nature of these blueprints and the lack of continuous improvement.
Keep in mind that the world and business requirements are dynamic. Patterns emerge over time of how people interface with each other, machines, chatbots and applications. Use cases are often outside of IT. Embrace and address these new dynamics in the way you approach workflows.
Remember MapQuest? You would type in an address and print out directions to get to your destination. Among many other applications, now there’s Waze, which makes real-time adjustments based on crowdsourcing, and it uses visualization to map a new route. That’s a dynamic and intelligent workflow, and it’s not just for transportation applications. This is where things are heading across global supply chains, financial instruments and digital content.
Visualize Your Workflows
The visualization of data has found its position in a variety of industries, as well. U.S. News and World Report uses data visualization all the time. Now you can visualize workflows, too. A digital rendering of the process I went through in creating this article might show how I approached idea generation, what my sources are and that I typed out a draft of this sentence, deleted it and then rewrote it.
Workflow and visualization at an individual level are interesting. But at a macro level, it impacts how you shape and run your organization. How do you know if you need 100 service architects? Would you base this on tradition? Volume? The truth is that you don’t know.
Workflow visualization can provide insights into what you really need and different and better ways of doing things. In a nutshell, it can help modernize your organization.
You work hard to reach your desired business outcomes. Your business was designed to deliver those outcomes. Now you can leverage your content intelligence, process management and workflow visualization to see how it’s working and drive continuous improvement of the operational environments.
This article first appeared in Forbes.