Great business practices often boil down to simple truths. Everyone will agree that 'doing the right things in the right way' is essential for success in business. The hard part is finding those things that provide optimum value by satisfying the needs of the organization. This requires end-to-end design of the work processes of the organization. Without this integral foundation, modern transformation programs such as digitization, agility, loyalty, operational excellence, innovation, and cross functional management—to name a few—are impossible. To assemble the end-to-end with integrity, a complete inventory of the work components derived from process frameworks must be available to draw from so nothing will be missed. The combined use of process frameworks and an end-to-end design is invaluable when striving to be effective.
In December of 2015 APQC conducted its annual priorities survey to understand the common challenges and priorities of process and performance management practitioners in 2016. What it found was that organizations are moving away from last year’s priorities of engaging the business in process to integrating performance to show the value of process to the business (Figure 1).
Organizations can use end-to-end processes to assist with the top two process management challenges:
- Moving from a function-based to process-thinking culture. This means breaking out of functional siloes to thinking about the entire value chain of the work the organization is trying to accomplish.
- Aligning process management efforts to the organization's strategy. Typically speaking, the business's priorities are not functional in nature. They are large-scale issues such as improving organizational agility, becoming customer-centric, or entering a new market. All of these issues depend on understanding how the organization creates value and aligning the purpose of its processes to align with the created value.
Functional thinking is epitomized by the idea of specialization and focusing on executing a set of specific tasks exceptionally well. Process thinking on the other hand looks at the entire value chain and includes thinking about the end goal or purpose of the end-to-end process, hand offs between functions, and the overall wellbeing of the end-to-end process. The focus on the entire value chain is vitally important for several reasons:
- Customer experience—value chains use outside thinking which helps organizations focus on the value created for the end-user or customer; ultimately improving their experience.
- Digitization—value chains help the organizations understand and optimize its business processes, which in turn helps the organization automate processes to improve customer experiences, costs, and efficiency.
- Resource optimization—in functional thinking organizations may make changes to optimize function which could inadvertently harm another function. However, by optimizing the business processes across the value chain, organizations get a holistic view of the effects.
- Performance measurement—value chains help the organization focus on the outcome or end-goal of the processes not just the efficiency of individual components.
- Business agility—value chains encourage direct interaction between departments, typically through an organizational matrix. All of which improves coordination and leads to a streamlined and efficient work flow and ability to make changes quickly.
The rest of this Article will define a business process, explore the value of and methods for defining end-to-end processes, introduce process frameworks, and outline their role in supporting the development of end-to-end processes.