In this series of blog posts, we are exploring the reason why organizations go through the effort, expense and disruption of pursuing process automation projects. This post explores our thought process when we think about end-to-end process efficiency in automation efforts.
As I write this, I am sitting at a Starbucks in a major metropolitan city. From the table at which I am sitting I can see two other coffee shops. I am noticing that there is a marked difference between the Starbucks and the other alternatives. Starbucks has a line out the door and 7 people working behind the counter. The other stores are almost empty with one or two people working behind the counter. While I don’t think that process design and automation is what is causing the Starbucks to have sold hundreds of cups of coffee in the 10 minutes that I have been sitting here, versus the 10 that the shop next door sold, I do think that without the right automation and process design, the situation in Starbucks could look very different.
It is hard to make a case for automation in low volume / highly customized tasks, but when there are high volumes and the processes have a controlled number of variables, there is always a case to be made for automation. As I think about my own experience when I was the Chief Operating Office in a Wealth Management Division of a national bank, or about the many clients that we work with, there are always many opportunities for improvement.
For Starbucks, their process is:
- Receiving an order, which can now even be done via the Starbucks mobile app
- Allowing a degree of customization with each order (size, flavors, room for cream, etc.)
- Producing a product through a number of process steps
- Delivering a finished product to the customer
Don’t all of your processes look something like this? Maybe your process takes more than 4 minutes to complete, but, essentially, it is an input with some customization options, a series of tasks, and the delivery of an end product.
When we look at an activity like client onboarding, we look at all of inefficient processes and tasks that are being followed in the current solution, and then attempt to not just automate the steps, but eliminate the actions that create errors, delays, and don’t add value to get the final product as defined by the customer. We then determine how to consistently create that end product (a new account) in the shortest amount of time using the smallest amount of effort. Do we make it easy for the customer to give us the information? It is easy for the system or person taking that information to know that the information is incomplete or will stop the process at a step further down the workflow? Or, do we only find that out when it is too late and the process fails and we have an unhappy customer?
To use the Starbucks analogy, when you order a frappachino, do you think that Starbucks' point of sale application prompts the person at the register to ask “whipped Cream with that?” and requires an answer before they can complete the order? If it doesn’t, then it just created an opportunity for a process break to happen later in the process when the barista who is crafting the frappichino wonders if they should top the beverage with whipped cream or not. Then, there is a delay in the creation of the beverage. The baristia has to reach back out to the customer, which adds delays and costs.
Is your client onboarding solution smart enough to know how to avoid these delays, costs, and customer annoyances? Ours is, because it is what we have spent years thinking about in designing our solutions. we’d love to talk about it with you, maybe over a cup of coffee. To set up a coffee date (or call), click the button below: