Optimized Processes: Humans Make the Difference

12 minute read | 18 May 2023

By Michael Bachman

What you’ll learn:


As we continue climbing the Process Maturity Ladder (PML), we’ve reached the optimized processes rung. At this stage, organizations have automated their workflows and implemented intelligent processes that combine the power of human and artificial intelligence. It’s time to fine-tune these processes to maximize efficiency, minimize waste, and enable businesses to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Let’s explore the importance of optimized processes, the critical elements for making that happen, and the role of stakeholder collaboration and hyperautomation tools. Let’s dive in and unlock the full potential of your organization’s processes.

Optimized Processes Need a Human in the Loop

Optimized processes are crucial for organizations seeking a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced business environment. Organizations can achieve significant cost savings, improve customer satisfaction, and drive innovation by refining workflows, reducing waste, and making data-driven decisions. But optimization doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a commitment to continuous improvement and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. This step of the Ladder requires a lot more human intelligence than ever. Why? Despite our insistence that machine intelligence is core to business processes, at this stage, humans must use skills that are, for now, distinctly human.

Making Data-Driven Decisions

Data is the lifeblood of any optimization effort. Organizations must collect, analyze, and act on the data generated by their processes to make informed decisions. This includes leveraging advanced analytics tools like machine learning and artificial intelligence to uncover hidden patterns and insights that can improve processes. Organizations can identify opportunities for optimization and make more informed decisions about resource allocation, process changes, and strategic direction by adopting this data-driven mindset.

Well-informed decisions start with collecting data from various sources, both internal and external, and integrating it into a unified platform. Data integration ensures that decision-makers have a comprehensive and holistic view of the organization’s processes and can identify patterns and trends that may not be apparent when analyzing data in isolation.

Once data is collected and integrated, organizations must analyze it to extract valuable insights. This involves using various analytical tools and techniques – such as descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics – to identify patterns, trends, and correlations. These insights help decision-makers understand the current state of their processes, identify areas for improvement, and make more informed decisions about process optimization.

Collaboration and Stakeholder Engagement

Fostering collaboration and actively engaging stakeholders is critical, particularly as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of technology, markets, and customer needs. By embracing a collaborative mindset, we make sure that everyone who needs to be involved is part of the decision-making process to benefit from a broader wealth of diverse perspectives and expertise. It’s essential to set up regular communication touchpoints, like meetings, workshops, or online forums, and to encourage cross-functional teamwork. This approach can spark innovative solutions that might not have been on our radar otherwise.

But we can’t stop at internal teams. Stakeholder engagement should encompass external partners like customers, suppliers, and industry experts. They can offer invaluable insights and feedback, helping us better understand the unique needs and preferences of everyone involved. By keeping the lines of communication open with these partners, we ensure that our initiatives align with the expectations and requirements of the broader ecosystem. Ultimately, this collaborative mindset paves the way for improved efficiency, innovation, and a competitive edge in the market.

Continuous Improvement

Optimization is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing commitment to evaluating and refining processes in response to new requirements. By embracing a culture of continuous improvement, organizations can ensure their processes remain agile, efficient, and effective over the long term.

Embracing a culture of continuous improvement means fostering an environment where experimentation, learning, and growth are encouraged. We can’t be afraid of failure. Instead, we must recognize it as a valuable opportunity to learn and improve. By nurturing this mindset within our organizations, we empower employees to contribute ideas and innovations that can lead to transformative results. As we march toward disruptive processes, the commitment to continuous improvement keeps us agile, efficient, and primed for success.

Build Process Stakeholder Teams

Optimizing processes calls for teamwork from every part of the organization. Businesses must ensure they’re considering all viewpoints and that any proposed changes fit well with the company’s big-picture strategy when stakeholders work together. This team effort involves uniting technical and non-technical teams across the enterprise to create a well-rounded approach to process improvement.

Cross-Functional Teams

Working cross-functionally is a vital part of the optimization process. By blending individuals with a range of skill sets and expertise, organizations can take a closer look at every aspect of a process and ensure any improvements are comprehensive. Involving everyone helps build a culture of continuous improvement, boosting the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization’s processes.

Want to optimize an order fulfillment process? Form a cross-functional team that includes representatives from sales, customer service, warehousing, and logistics. Each team member can contribute their unique perspective and expertise. Sales reps can provide insights into customer preferences and order patterns. Customer service can share common issues or bottlenecks experienced by customers. Warehousing staff can suggest improvements in stock management, and logistics experts can recommend more efficient delivery methods. By collaborating, this group can identify areas for improvement, test new ideas, and implement changes that streamline the entire order fulfillment process.

Clients and Customers

This feedback is crucial when optimizing processes that directly affect the customer experience. Including customers in the optimization process allows organizations to grasp their needs and preferences better, ultimately leading to happier, more loyal customers. A customer-focused approach ensures that process improvements directly tackle the most pressing issues and provide real value to customers.

Looking to optimize its customer support process? Do you actively solicit customer feedback through surveys, focus groups, and direct interviews to understand common pain points and areas where customers are dissatisfied? Creating a feedback loop may reveal areas of improvement. For example, customers may struggle to find solutions in the existing knowledge base, leading to increased support tickets. Good things happen when an enterprise invests in improving the knowledge base, making it more user-friendly and comprehensive. Customers can find answers more easily, reducing the number of support tickets and enhancing the overall customer experience. It may even increase NPS scores or lead to more sales.

Suppliers, Vendors, and Partners

By working hand-in-hand with external stakeholders, businesses can pinpoint opportunities to fine-tune their supply chain, cut costs, and enhance overall efficiency. This cooperative mindset helps foster solid relationships with suppliers and partners, promoting a joint effort toward process optimization and ongoing improvement.

When organizations engage with their suppliers and partners to discuss potential bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the current process, optimal outcomes result. For example, conversations to improve lead times can be realized by adopting a more transparent communication system for sharing demand forecasts and production schedules. By implementing a collaborative planning system, the manufacturer and its suppliers can better synchronize their efforts, reducing lead times, lower inventory costs, and create a more agile supply chain.

Human communication is vital to creating optimized processes. Fostering a culture of collaboration, trust, and open dialogue among all stakeholders enables improved processes and the best possible version of an enterprise. Meaningful conversations enable teams to share insights, address concerns, and generate innovative ideas that drive process optimization. Clear communication helps to break down silos within an organization, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals and that the optimization efforts are aligned with the strategic direction of the business.

Ultimately, the blend of human intelligence and technology enables the creation of truly optimized processes, leading to increased efficiency, enhanced customer experiences, and a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Hyperautomation Tools and Optimized Processes

As previously discussed, hyperautomation tools, including low-code integration platforms, process mining, and process discovery, are critical in achieving optimized processes. By providing a granular view of how processes function in real time and allowing teams across the enterprise to tap into any data source, these tools enable organizations to identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and opportunities for improvement. Let’s take a closer look at how several hyperautomation tools can help organizations.

Low-Code/No-Code Integration Platforms

Low-code/no-code tools, like Boomi, play a pivotal role in integrating AI pipelines and orchestrating outcomes within the context of each enterprise. These tools cater to the unique representation of customers, employees, products, services, and trading partners as entities defined by individual businesses and their processes. By facilitating rapid connection and transformation of data at the source and delivering processed data to targets, low-code tools enable organizations to view their data as entities within their unique context.

These platforms empower organizations to develop and deploy new applications and process improvements with minimal coding expertise. This allows for quick testing and iteration of new ideas, accelerating optimization. Businesses can implement changes with minimal disruption, ensuring a smoother and more efficient journey toward optimized processes. In essence, these tools act as the bridge between the first-mile context and the last-mile outcomes of AI, fostering a more agile and effective optimization process.

Process Mining

Process mining is a powerful technique that uses data generated by IT systems to visualize and analyze how processes are being executed within an organization. By examining event logs and other data sources, process mining tools can help organizations uncover inefficiencies, identify root causes of problems, and pinpoint opportunities for improvement. This information can be used to make data-driven decisions about process changes and resource allocation.

Process Discovery

This helps organizations identify the actual processes taking place within their workflows. It’s often different from what’s documented or believed to be happening. By using process discovery tools, organizations can gain a more accurate understanding of their processes, identify areas of improvement, and implement changes that result in more efficient and effective workflows.

Beyond Optimization: Preparing for Disruptive Processes

We’ve explored the importance of humans creating optimized processes in today’s competitive business landscape. By embracing data-driven decision-making, fostering collaboration among key stakeholders, and leveraging hyperautomation tools, organizations can unlock the full potential of their processes and drive continuous improvement.

As we move toward the final stage of the PML – disruptive processes – it’s essential to remember that optimization is an ongoing effort. Organizations must remain vigilant in their pursuit of efficiency and effectiveness, continuously evaluating and refining their processes in response to new data and changing market conditions.

Next, we’ll dive into the world of disruptive processes and explore how organizations can harness the power of innovation to fundamentally transform their operations and achieve long-term success. Stay tuned as we continue our journey along the Process Maturity Ladder and unlock the full potential of your organization’s processes.

Ready to start modernizing your manual processes? Get our guide: “Avoid the Digital Transformation Trap.”

Check out the earlier posts in this series: