Friday, August 17, 2007

What has changed that businesses need process management software?

The business environment in which we all operate has changed fundamentally over the last decade or so. The need for organisations to employ some form of process automation is greater than ever. So what are these environmental changes and how have they impacted businesses? In this article I will look at five environmental factors that every organisation must consider.

1. Globalisation
The Internet and email have made the world a much smaller place. This has had two profound effects on business. First, competitiveness has increased as greater numbers of companies are able to enter the most lucrative markets. You no longer need to be physically close to your customers to do business with them. A well designed Internet site can attract customers and manage the sale without the need for any personal interaction.

The Internet has also permitted the free flow of information. Information about company offerings and pricing are easily accessible to both customers and potential competitors! The net effect of all this free flow of information is that companies are becoming more homogenous. It is increasingly difficult to be dominant in a market from a cost leadership or differentiation strategy. Increased competition is driving down margins and increasing the flow of information so that any advantage gained from a differentiation strategy is soon eaten up. The only strategy left is to be more customer focused, or operationally excellent. RyanAir is a great example of a company which is doing this. The difficulty with being operationally excellent is that you need good processes that are strictly adhered to. This is something that is impossible without some form of automation.

A further effect of globalisation is geographically dispersed workforces. Increasingly we are seeing companies outsource entire business functions. To ensure that these outsourced groups are participating in the business effectively, a high level of communication and collaboration is needed.

2. Increasingly regulatory environment
Various debacles in the world of business from Enron to WorldCom have necessitated the introduction of tighter regulations on how organisations do business. Required periodic audits now interrupt businesses on a regular basis. Manually, such audits can take weeks to complete but an automated system can reduce them to a few hours.

3. Changing Labour Markets
Charles Handy introduced the term 'Portfolio Worker' to describe a way of working where individuals are mobile and move between organisations bringing their expertise with them for the duration of the project they are working on. While that prediction has not fully come to pass, it is increasingly the case that employees are staying for shorter periods in the one company and are seeking more flexible working hours and working arrangements. Where processes are embedded in employee's heads, the danger is that an organisation cannot learn from past experience. Processes need to be stored outside of individuals so that they outlast those employees in the organisation.

Employees that do stay with their organisation are also seeking more flexible working arrangements. These can include working from home one or two days a week or working hours that suit them. Obviously in an organisation where processes require immediate action from these employees, major bottle necks will begin to form. The good news is that these employees who seek more flexible working times tend to be willing to be contactable through their Blackberry, or equivalent, umbilical cords. Automated process management tools that can use these devices therefore, can overcome most limitations flexible working arrangements introduce.

4. More demanding customers
With increased competitiveness, customers have become more demanding. They are unwilling to tolerate issues getting lost in the cracks. They expect quick response times of 'minutes' or 'hours' rather than 'days' or 'weeks'. If they are not satisfied they will simply move to another supplier. All of these threats can be managed effectively with some form of automated process management system. No longer do companies need to depend on employee's remembering to keep issues open or to get back to customers with information or resolutions to issues raised. Instead automated systems can prompt employees to perform the actions necessary to enforce adherence to predefined processes.

5. Greater need for flexibility
Entrepreneurial Management is largely about managing change and being able to best position oneself to best take advantage of inevitable change. Many of the top business schools around the world have entrepreneurship management units or are offering modules in this up and coming discipline of management agility. 'Taking charge of change' necessitates having established, visible processes in place that can be quickly and easily modified. Unless these processes are managed by a tool, communicating changes can lead to confusion and mistakes.

The business environment has changed fundamentally in the last decade. Companies will increasingly struggle to keep up if their way of doing business (their processes) is not automated by software.

Serena TeamTrack is a web-architected, secure and highly configurable process and issue management system. It creates a clear process throughout the application lifecycle—from initial request to post-delivery customer support activities.

Thousands of companies around the world are using TeamTrack to manage processes across organizational silos and drive the highest levels of efficiency. With TeamTrack, you can control and automate any business process, manage issues throughout the lifecycle of your IT projects, and facilitate collaboration among all stakeholders across your enterprise and beyond.

For more information click on the link below or contact us to request a visit so that we can show you the power and advantages of TeamTrack.