There are many reasons why your business might need to change. Evolving consumer needs, new competition, innovative technologies, employee demands, and legal changes are all common drivers that might make your organisation pursue a new strategic goal. If that sounds familiar, process architecture is an excellent place to start.
In this blog we show how your process architecture can help you realize a strategic business change. And since Forbes cites “sustainable, resilient operation” as one of the biggest business trends for 2022, we do so using an example of making an organization more sustainable.
In this article, you'll learn:
When we talk about processes, we mean the different workflows that a business uses to operate day to day. And process design shapes how those processes align with customer requirements, how they’re carried out in which order, who’s involved, and what skills, behaviours, management, and ICT support are needed.
If your business is pursuing a new strategic goal, all these process design elements and more need to be brought into line. For example, if you want to become more sustainable, all your employees need to understand what that means in the context of their daily work.
To achieve that kind of change, you need to map all the processes and decide how they can be redesigned to be more sustainable. Then you need to bridge this gap in a managed and structured way – and that’s where process architecture comes in.
A process architecture helps you to understand how your business processes should best be designed to achieve a stated strategic goal. It gives you the tools to design, realise, and manage those processes. It includes:
For example, if you want your business to become more sustainable, you might choose the following.
Process design principles:
The process model can also reflect the strategic sustainability theme – for example by including an innovation process to develop sustainable products or techniques. Risk management aspects can include environmental risks, and processes could include how waste and by-products will be handled.
Drawing up a good process architecture is not easy. You have to make choices about how you show the outside world what you’re trying to achieve. Besides that it has to reflect the inside world of your organisation. People have to understand how work processes are involved in end-to-end (business) processes and how they connect to each other. That is quite difficult. So to help, we have listed some guidelines about what a good process architecture looks like in practice.
Relationships between work processes are not included in the main model, but shown in separate models.
Creating a process architecture is an iterative process that takes knowledge and skill. You should hone it by seeking feedback from managers and administrators who understand the relevant work processes well. You can also test how the scope and depth of work processes fit the business processes and vice versa.
Ultimately, all the relevant stakeholders will need to support your model – including business and IT managers, and senior leadership. While you can refine your model, the most effective way is to win approval by working alongside those involved from the start, so the goals and parameters are agreed.
It’s important that a process architecture has clear names and explanations for all business and work processes, because this is what creates a clear link between the strategy and the execution.
Setting up work processes in accordance with the design and modelling principles outlined in the architecture gives consistency. It gives employees carrying out the work a guideline that ensures they’re delivering the strategy.
If the first changes in the process are IT improvements, then implementation can easily take several months. But once the first steps are complete, you can use the process results as a basis for continuous improvement. This is the responsibility of the process owner.
To keep this optimisation heading in the right direction, the process owner aims to achieve process goals which are in turn derived from strategic goals. They then manage the process using the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle.
To illustrate this, let’s look at a process control example where the strategy is aiming for organisational sustainability.
Suppose that the process architecture includes a process called “innovate”, which aims to “research, develop, and implement new functionalities that improve, renew, or supplement existing assets and processes”. You could measure the results by the number of new functionalities, or by those functions’ effectiveness in making your operation more sustainable.
If you want to measure the latter, you could formulate a critical success factor (CSF) that relates to the primary production process. For example, you might measure the reduction in waste from your regular production process. Performance indicators might include:
Now carrying out your operation can give you clear, relevant performance data that you can use to measure your progress. You can compare the information to the standards you’ve formulated, and use this to find and implement new process improvements.
This way, you can work iteratively, so over time your operation becomes steadily more aligned with your sustainability goal – or any strategic goal.
Change is an essential part of business. And increasingly, organisations are understanding that creating a process architecture is an important step in achieving their strategic goals.
However, no two businesses are exactly alike. There are several ways to develop a process architecture, and the best approach depends on the organisation’s culture, processes, and stakeholders. You might choose a top-down, bottom-up, or middle-out approach.
Deciding which strategy is most appropriate is just one of the ways that creating a good process architecture takes judgement, knowledge, and skill. But even for an experienced architect, the development process of an architecture has its challenges – and we’d love to hear your perspective.
If you’d like to talk about your experiences with process architecture, or if you have any questions for our experts, please get in touch. In this field, there’s always something new to learn.
Have a question, comment or business enquiry? Talk to one of our experts to see how we can help.
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