The Altus solutions have helped me cut through the confusion and inefficiency of siloed structures and multiple agendas. They provide a robust basis for driving focus on the real priorities for my business.
For many of the most widely accepted process improvement techniques, from Lean and Six Sigma to Continual Improvement, the emphasis is on streamlining individual processes, either by efficiency champions or operations staff at the sharp end. On the face of it, this would appear to make sense – after all, surely any process that can be made faster or cheaper should yield business benefits.
Taking a big picture view, however, may reveal efforts being channelled into improving processes that add little or no value to the end user or which don’t align with broader strategy.
Illustrating this big picture should start with a comprehensive inventory of end-to-end business processes. In our experience this is best compiled with reference to the information flows into and out of the business. This is a more robust approach than simply collating departmental process lists, which often results in gaps and overlaps. Grouping the value-add processes into logical value streams aligned to strategic goals, and the remainder as supporting processes, creates an invaluable tool for business leaders to use to measure and improve the parts of the business that really matter.
By assigning owners to each value stream, an organisation can put in place champions to drive improvements across departmental silos and ensure that nothing falls between the gaps. To be effective, these owners need access to appropriate performance indicators such as time, cost, error rates and value-add for each set of processes. They can then make judgments on which change initiatives will make the biggest impact on aspects like margins, elapsed time or customer satisfaction.
This process view is only half of the picture though. By breaking processes down into their individual building blocks – or business capabilities – we can more easily identify inefficiencies or additional capacity for re-use. Having a clear view of which capabilities are duplicated in multiple teams or systems, for example, may highlight the opportunity to rationalise multiple processes into a single streamlined approach.
At Altus, our industry models of process and capability, refined over many years from experience of complex change projects in Financial Services, are at the heart of every piece of work we do for our clients. These pictures help our consultants to identify opportunities for operational improvements and focus on change that makes a real difference.