Improvement Is Part Of The Process
When Craig Reid’s parents left him home alone one year while they went off on holiday, instead of throwing wild parties – as you might expect a teenager to do – Craig spent the time reorganising his mother’s kitchen cupboards to make them more streamlined, less cluttered and easier to access. This was clearly a precursor to what he would end up doing as an adult – except this time with companies.
Today, Craig is the CEO of the Process Improvement Group - an Australian consultancy that specialises in helping complex organisations achieve world class efficiency and customer experience – he has been recognised by both the Process Excellence Network and Processpedia as one of the top process thought leaders globally.
Craig has established the number one-ranked process improvement blog in the world, and is also the author of "The Process Revolution - Transforming Your Organisation with Business Process Improvement.” He’s been featured in newspapers like The Australian and The Sun-Herald, and is regularly asked to write and speak on behalf of the world’s top business process software vendors.
His consultancy has helped organisations such as Chartered Accountants ANZ, Westpac, CBA, Macquarie Bank and Teachers Mutual Bank make their customers happier and save millions of dollars at the same time.
So it’s not hard to see why we were so excited recently to welcome Craig to The Outperformer, where he gave a fascinating interview centering around the huge opportunities inherent in process improvement. If you weren’t able to tune in to the live webinar, keep reading as we bring you some of the key points discussed during the interview.
Finance Professionals Are Part Of The Process
There’s a huge need to understand that no matter where you are in the company, and whatever job you do, it all links back to the ultimate outcome for the customer. When we start to examine processes, we begin with the customer’s needs and work back from there. Sometimes finance and accounting people are nestled deep within the organisation, so they think they’re shielded from the needs of the customer. This is not the right mindset. We all need to be thinking about who our customers are, and how we can add value to their end experience.
In addition, process improvement projects often result in significant cost reductions, and there is a great opportunity for finance people to tap into these savings. An improvement in organisational processes also helps to de-risk a company financially, which should be of great interest to the accounting people.
The Hateful Eight
These are the eight key challenges many organisations face today:
- Poor customer experience – so often we treat customers the same as we did 30 years ago. Today’s customers have much higher expectations.
- Speed – You never know when the Airbnb or Uber of your particular industry is going to come along and challenge the norms. Having the speed to change, be flexible and be agile is critical to your future success.
- Decreasing Profitability – if you’re no longer in a growth market, you need to look at opportunities to streamline and make things more efficient.
- Project failures – so many projects are steeped in deep methodologies. We’re creating so much bureaucracy that we’re tying ourselves up in a project management noose. We need to create agile ways to manage projects rather than sticking to the old, traditional ways.
- Losing, or not attracting, Customers – Organisations spend a lot of money getting customers through the door, but then give them a second-rate experience when they’re finally there. Successful business is all about giving a customer a great experience, no matter where that customer is in their life cycle.
- Complexity – many organisations are based on a legacy dating back to the Industrial Revolution. Our labour structures are built on models from 250 years ago! The value you get from your customer decreases the more complex your organisation is. There are more opportunities for failure and delays, and more areas where costs are incurred.
- Poor staff performance – So often staff are pigeon-holed into thinking, “this is my job and this is all I do.” They’re not being provided with any responsibility or autonomy. The world has moved on from when this was acceptable. Customers today want personal contact, and they need their problem solved straight away.
- Broken Processes – these are processes that are bleeding money, introducing too much risk into the company or producing a bad customer experience.
How NOT To Address These Challenges
Transformation is a buzzword - people are always talking about how they’re going to transform their organisations. This is a lot like talking about dieting! Everyone has good intentions, sets lofty and audacious goals, and throws a lot of money at it. Projects are launched with great fanfare and everyone wants to do everything at once. They end up doing too much too quickly, and then wonder why it ends up failing. There’s simply not enough change management at the start, so it’s always going to be doomed to fail.
How DO We Address Them Then?
Craig is a huge proponent of workshops. Why? Because workshops are a collaborative experience and they help businesses design their processes. Walking into an organisation and telling people what to do instantly gets everyone on the defensive. The secret to effective change management is to get everybody involved right from the beginning. You have to have a “from the top down, and from the bottom up” approach.
The first thing to do is get the right people in the room. Craig calls these “the doers.” These are the people who are doing the work every single day. You also need people with the right personalities - creative individuals who will spark the others and get ideas flowing. Every level needs to be involved. You can’t just let the management level design the process.
So We've Workshopped Some Ideas, Now What?
You should leave your workshop with an action plan that will take from there you are now, to where you need to be. You’ll have a whole slew of potential initiatives that have to be followed through in as short a timeframe as is possible. Identify some of the quick wins that can be ticked off almost immediately. Then develop criteria with people in your organisation and decide on a timeline you can work to to implement these initiatives. You need small, but regular cycles of implementation.
To listen to the full interview with Craig, make sure you're signed up with The Outperformer community and listen in.