In his own words...
Read on below for the full transcript of the podcast.
(00:00) Hello and welcome to this short podcast on empowering your workforce to digitize your processes. Many digital transformation programs are dependent on scarce IT resources to deliver the outcomes of the transformation. However, there is an alternative approach. You can empower your workforce, your business users, to digitize your processes and deliver outcomes into your program.
(00:24) Why focus on process? Simply processes are everywhere. There's lots of opportunity to digitize processes and deliver measurable outcomes, increasing your workforce capacity.
(00:38) To digitize those processes, you need to take an alternative approach to business process management. Business process management, traditional BPM systems, had high upfront costs, and were heavily dependent on skilled IT resources to deliver systems into the business. Digital process automation is the new wave, the new wave of systems that are focused on transformation and enterprise wide adoption. With little or no training, your business users can start to automate those processes, the processes that of course they know very well and they can automate them using a test and learn delivery model. What that simply means is you can build, very quickly, a prototype of your process, then deliver it into the business, gain feedback and refine it as time goes on.
(01:30) I'd like to talk to you about some real case studies where digital process automation has been applied to deliver successful outcomes. First up is Essar Oil. Essar Oil are becoming a self-sufficient, paperless organization by digitizing their processes, using the FlowForma DPA platform. A leading player in the UK oil and chemical industry, Essar have a large refinery, in fact, it's the second largest refinery in the UK, supplying 16% of the UK's oil fuel. Essar purchased the refinery from Shell and it was a refinery that is quite old, it's existed for over 50 years and had a lot of inefficient paper based processes.
(02:17) The key challenges that Essar faced within the plant was to try and remove paper. A lot of their processes were paper based and along with paper processes you have risk, information can be filled in incorrectly. Also those people's pieces of paper can be lost as they're transferred from one resource to another. And it's very difficult to establish where your processes are at any one point in time because the process at best is recorded on a spreadsheet tracker or something similar. So there was lots of scope to remove paper, reducing the risk associated with that improved transparency, to be able to see where processes were at any point in time and also to gradually improve efficiency so that you would be able to identify bottlenecks and so on within the process and that's because you're recording process metrics. So when you digitize a process you're actually recording the amount of time spent on each task and also all the resources that were used on each task.
(03:15) The solution for Essar was to adopt a DPA technology platform, in fact they adopted FlowForma. They then empowered a team of 12 business users, 12 process administrators, people who knew about process but didn't necessarily have any IT skills. They then appointed an internal evangelist, a key step, the internal evangelist sold the DPA approach within the organization. So, the evangelist actually used the system himself to digitize processes that were relevant to him and then went around and basically passed the word around his network as to what he had achieved, and then encourage people to try the same. As a result, they streamlined over 30 processes in the first three months, but with plenty of others as well. A key thing here was the versatility of the tool allowed widely different processes to be digitized using the same tool. So for example, new employee arrival versus waste transferal process, these two very different processes, but both were accommodated within the same tool and incidentally provided the same end user interface to the business user, the person actually carrying out the work and also the process administrator who was configuring that solution.
(04:32) Key lessons learnt by Essar during the initial digital process automation efforts were, you need to have a quick time to value. So basically you need to deliver something to the business even if it's not 100% correct, in a very short time frame, and that shows the effectiveness of the tool, because basically you're demonstrating what you can deliver using the tool and using those business process administrators as the people who configure the solution. Speaking of which, empowering the workforce, using a self service tool is essential to success, because if you're dependent on IT resources it's always going to be a bottleneck and IT resources are never going to be available to you in the time frame that you need to deliver results from process digitization.
(05:24) DPA tools enable innovation from the bottom up, so many innovation programs work from a top down, basically it's led by C-level and the program defines a framework for innovation. But unless that framework is adopted by the people at the bottom, you won't realize the benefits that the program hopes to achieve. However, by using a DPA platform, at least in terms of process, you're enabling innovation at the bottom of the organization and then you can apply guidelines to minimize the innovation risk. So in other words, new ideas that are put into place by business process owners can be validated, if you like, by a peer group and so on, before they're put into production. Another key thing is a low entry cost, so you need to start small, try and digitize processes within, let's say a single department or business unit, and then once you have achieved success, which you can measure quickly and then you could start to grow. So you basically achieve success in one department and then you grow it outside of that department and across the entire organization. A lot of the growth is fueled by word of mouth and obviously the early successes that you've achieved using the DPA platform.
(06:40) Now I'd like to look at the A14 (Joint Venture), the A14 is a 1.5 billion pound four year road infrastructure project in the UK, here the initiative was started by IT. IT had limited resources and needed to digitize several processes within the organization and to start off with, they hit the pain points quickly. So they quickly built processes and pushed them out to the business where they had a challenge. There was a digital skills challenge within the end user community, hence they had to start with IT, but once they measured outcomes they were able to get the execs on board who saw the immediate improvements that the system was delivering, and then they supported the adopters. So people who were enthusiastic about the system were given training and they were able to then digitize their own processes. So ultimately they empowered the workforce and promoted the use of DPA throughout the organization.
(07:42) The next case study is the Uniphar journey. Uniphar Group adopted DPA, again, beginning within IT. However, the IT manager was very enterprising, he could see that the business users would be able to digitize their own processes. However, time was a factor. It's difficult to convince those business process owners to spend time digitizing processes. Therefore, he had a bright idea. He'd recruited interns, trained the interns, and then passed those interns out to the business community, instructing them to support the business managers, the business process owners, and digitize as many processes as possible. Within six months, they digitize 60 processes. Now this is a big bang approach. It basically targets processes randomly throughout the business with the view that some of these processes at least are going to gain significant benefits once they're digitized. So it's a kind of a see what works approach, try it out and see. The intern's training took about a couple of days and then you know, building a process well it could take as much as a week with an intern, but you know what potentially is going to give you a lot of benefits and if not, it's not a lot of time and effort wasted. It could be reused towards digitizing next processes and so on. So it was an interesting approach and almost guaranteed to get you results, as typically a process is going to give you a 50% efficiency boost when it's digitized, regardless of the process. So definitely one approach to consider.
(09:17) So finally, just to talk about next steps. I guess the key messages from today are focused on processes during a transformation effort, as the processes will deliver results that could be used to fund further investment in digital transformation and can accelerate digital transformation in general. Empower your workforce, because at the end of the day, you will not have enough IT resource to digitize all the processes within your business. So you might as well make use of that workforce and train them up on a short training cycle and use a test and learn methodology etc. Encourage process innovation within the workforce, and to do this, consider appointing internal evangelist's to promote the whole DPA philosophy within your organization. Start small, it's difficult to convince everybody at the same time. So you typically wouldn't have a DPA program of work such, you start small, implement DPA at a departmental level and then grow quickly through word of mouth and successes earned in the early stages. Ultimately, this will increase workforce capacity across the organization and that capacity can be used for the digitizer processes or further move your digital transformation program forward, or for whatever reason.
(10:40) When you're considering a DPA solution, make sure that you ensure that your DPA solution can be used by your workforce. And the way to do that as get them to try it out. So try before you buy and it's sure that the workforce, sorry, your business process managers are happy configuring solutions in your chosen DPA platform. The second thing I would say is ensure that the DPA platform is broad enough to be able to handle the majority of use cases and scenarios within your organization, so that when the business process managers try it out, they don't run into roadblocks. It's a difficult compromise when you have a system that's designed to be easy to use so that business people can use it without IT skills, it's difficult to design it also to be broad enough to cope with all the business scenarios that might be thrown at it. Therefore that's something else to consider. So it's ease of use, get your workforce to try it out and also ensure that it's broad enough in terms of functionality that it'll handled things like workflow, data processing and also documents, so that basically it covers off enough scope to handle as many business scenarios as possible.
(12:01) Thank you for listening today. If you'd like any more information, please go to www.flowforma.com where you'll find more case studies, also more information on our own DPA platform, obviously, but this will give you some ideas as to how you might implement it in your own business. Thanks for listening.