It’s not easy to change a legacy process. People often grow comfortable with their processes and any change can be viewed as a disruption.
This week, Microsoft is hosting a series of sessions in the Sacramento area promoting California Digital Transformation Week. Kiefer is participating by publishing blogs and providing resources to help organizations prepare for a transformation initiative.
In many organizations, the effort to modernize a process may seem too daunting, and in many cases, it seems easier to stay the course, even though the current process is inefficient or costly. You need “guts” to make the change and a plan to make the change a successful one!
The need for change
Transformation is inevitable when a legacy process begins to negatively impact revenue, prevents you from responding to constituents or stakeholders in a timely fashion, or limits your ability to integrate with other systems
Speed, agility, and accuracy are the benchmarks of a solid process, and if find that your process lacks one or more of these characteristics, the process needs to be assessed and ultimately optimized. The most effective way of evaluating your current processes is by mapping the processes.
It’s important to understand where the inefficiencies are in your process and why. Mapping a process begins with understanding what kicks off the process, what happens throughout the process and what constitutes the end of the process. To map a process, all stakeholders must be present and you must clearly define the process from beginning to end.
In one engagement, a Kiefer client asked us to help them take a 20-day process down to 10 days. A 50% reduction in the time it took for an item to traverse the workflow. When our consultants mapped the process, we discovered that the only way to reduce the time it took to complete the workflow would be to enable the parallel review of documents. The client expressed that the review couldn’t be done in parallel, only in serial. This discovery was important and Kiefer consultants than began to focus on how to improve the process by introducing alerts, notifications, and dashboards to help speed up the existing process. This is not the first time that our team had a request to accelerate a process that could not be easily optimized.
Enterprise demands and the everyday processes
We have found that even if your process is broken or inefficient, I.T. is oftentimes consumed by enterprise demands. A small department may not be able to garner the attention of I.T.. However, it is extremely important that we recognize that while a process may seem to only impact a small number of internal staff and stakeholders, it may be a public-facing or constituent-facing process that is reflective of the entire organization.
An example that comes to mind is the Public Records Act (PRA) Request process. Many organizations have a very small staff to address requests for public information, and these requests typically require a response within a defined period of time. The process of addressing these requests are typically manual, ad-hoc in nature, and time-consuming. The process is typically a legacy one, and for the most part, the owners of the process don’t complain, don’t recognize that technology could make their job easier, and don’t escalate their frustrations to I.T.. This back-office process is a public-facing process and the inefficiencies ultimately impact reputation, client/constituent confidence and take staff away from other important business functions.
Making Changes: How to successfully transform a legacy process
Create a digital transformation culture
We have successfully helped clients with a single technology platform to improve several legacy processes. The key to maximizing the technology investment is to create a culture that recognizes when, where, and how the platform can be used to improve not only the process it was adopted to address but other similar processes across the entire organization. Organizations now operate with a focus on improvement and leveraging the investment across numerous back-office processes. We have helped organizations believe in the technology and the difference that technology can make.
Rely on external leadership
Many transformation initiatives fail because they are led from within the organization. Past history, failures, and competing initiatives can all create an environment that is hostile to change. Third-parties and contractors with experience in project management, change management, and deploying transformational technologies can set an organization up for success.
Create internal champions and transformation leaders
Internal advocates (champions) are an important and often forgotten part of a business transformation initiative. In order to be successful, there needs to be internal support and sponsorship for making a change to a legacy process. Transformation leaders help the organization in understanding the value of change, see the importance of transformation, and are best suited to promote the benefits of the change. If your organization has elected to have a non-partial 3rd party or a consultant to help in building and deploying a solution that will change a legacy process, be certain to have an internal team in place to support the change and support the transformation.
Promote collaboration break down silos
Leaving an old process behind is easy if the benefits outweigh the status quo. As a partner to a number of organizations that have chosen digital transformation, we’ve recognized the best practices that will help to ensure success. We help clients in developing a practical change management strategy that will work for the organization. In the plan, we consider culture, collaboration behaviors, and the silos that can create barriers to success. The change management/communication plan is important, because, without it, there is a risk that the initiative could fail.
Transformation is not easy… We understand! But there comes a time when it’s necessary. It will require that you show the courage and recognize the importance of making the change and then sticking to a solid plan!
We can support you in your transformation efforts. Contact us!