We have seen a renewed interest from organizations seeking large workflow improvement. Faster, better, cheaper is the dominant theme today. When we study the most significant barriers that prevent these organizations from achieving their objectives, we first look at the series of business processes that combine to deliver the product or service that creates value for the customer. The causality of performance deficiency can frequently be found in the white spaces between departments and functions, where hand-offs, miscommunication, and lack of specification creates misses that result in less than desired outcomes.
From our own data working with over 300 enterprises, we know that about 18% of organization problems originate from the white space between departments and functions that serve one another. These are the boundaries that go undefined between the business processes that must link together to deliver a common purpose that delights an enterprise customer. A well-defined and understood business process must include a supplier providing an input that is transformed by a process to deliver an output that meets the need of its immediate customer. So why do these gaps exist? These gaps exist when an organization doesn’t invest in the business process elements that are necessary to deliver a superior customer experience. So where does leadership find game-changing workflow improvement? Start by looking in the areas highlighted below.
Connect the larger system of relationships.
By narrowly defining the business problem to something within their immediate control, most department leaders sub-optimize their improvement potential. We find that less than ten percent of department heads can identify all of the business processes within their area of responsibility, which limits their vision for the cause and effect relationships that impact customer value streams and business system improvement potential.
Identify internal customers.
White spaces exist because organization leaders don’t know where their products and services flow, who uses their products and services downstream, and what their customers do with their products and services once they receive them. By not correctly identifying their immediate customer, department heads miss the opportunity to deliver a better overall customer experience.
Define internal requirements.
While efforts to improve customer experience are fairly common today, very few organizations study the internal customer relationships that make the better experience a reality. Just like an enterprise customer, the internal customer has a need for a specification that includes quality, speed, cost, and service.
Manage internal expectations to requirements.
The successful execution of a process mission begins by first defining the inbound specification needed from process inputs so that the process can successfully convert to deliver a valuable process output that meets the customer's specification.
Communicate upstream and downstream.
Organization silos are a key contributor to white space gaps. We have initiated many value stream improvement efforts where we introduce team members who depend on one another to achieve a common mission yet haven’t even met.
Problem-solve outside the box.
The end result of the gaps discussed above is that most organizations solve problems narrowly, missing the opportunity for team members to partner together to study the larger value stream or business system that yields greater and more sustainable improvement.
You can find workflow improvement here.
With the increasing popularity of internal process improvement groups, companies work diligently to implement improvements that optimize pieces of the business, such as departments, single business processes, and specific units or functions. They are often reluctant to attack the white space “sacred cows”. Therein lies an opportunity. Game changing improvement comes by reaching for the larger value stream and business system, which creates a greater return on investment that only becomes attainable by implementing breakthrough improvement across those white spaces.