Many businesses utilize process analysis as a key method for understanding and improving business processes. While analysis is straightforward, the value add in effective business process management comes from successful execution. In this article we outline the steps needed for new process implementation.
What exactly is process implementation?
Business process implementation is the time to put your improved or reengineered process into practice. Implementation is an ongoing task that requires careful planning and enough time to ensure process actors are well trained, informed, and happy with the proposed changes.
Businesses implement new or improved processes for a number of reasons such as streamlining workflows, promoting efficiency, reducing mistakes or simply to enable business growth. You can also consider process implementation as a key step on the road to process reengineering.
Typically, the better your reengineering plan, the smoother your implementation will be, especially when combined with these five following implementation practices.
1. Follow a happy and unhappy path
Understanding the reality and deviations against your desired process with happy paths helps process owners and teams to see if the new processes are running smoothly. An employee who demonstrates the actions thought up in the reengineering phase, such as easily adopting new technology, buying into the new process, etc., follows the happy path.
However, things seldom flow well during large projects. Spotting an undesired unhappy path helps process owners prepare for the inevitable glitches and deviations they’ll encounter along the way, such as:
- Employees did not receive adequate training on the new system.
- Someone with experience in a particular technology with a specific set of skills must be recruited, and recruitment is time-consuming.
- Employees feel the new process has negatively affected the company culture and team dynamics.
While implementing a new process, remember the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. The Yellow Brick Road leads to your desired destination but is filled with things that can push you to the curbside. You must be prepared to react to these challenges to stay on the straight and narrow.
2. Ensure alignment with clear communication and feedback
At the start of the implementation process, top management must agree upon and be aligned with the new vision. To get employees aligned and on board, management must offer a clear explanation why changes are being made and why they are important. Communicating changes via a series of emails, press releases, or even in-depth video explainers will not be enough to ensure buy-in from all process actors.
When implementing a new process, it’s best to communicate with regular catch-ups, meetings, one-to-ones, and feedback sessions. This is an ongoing project, and employees must be able to ask questions, express concerns and share ideas. Dictating changes can cause upset amongst teams, which threatens to crumble company culture, lower employee satisfaction, and even increase staff turnover rate.
3. Brace yourself for bumps in the road
People may feel nervous about changing company culture, job stability, and adapting to new technology. But a small amount of organizational resistance is normal and offers an ideal opportunity to address any concerns and make any necessary changes to the original plan.
4. Provide adequate training
In theory, a payroll manager is an ideal person to efficiently manage a new payroll system from day one of implementation. In reality, the payroll manager must be allocated enough time and resources to get them onboarded and pay other employees their salaries. Remember, the payroll manager should not have a new working method thrown at them during the implementation stage. Any changes should be agreed upon during the BPR stage.
5. Use effective intelligence software
There’s lots of implementation software out there, and some will be better suited to your needs than others. However, many teams find implementation easier with software that reports progress in real-time.
If you're leading new process implementation projects, it's typically difficult to get insights into how it really works. Employee's whose work is affected by that changing process still need to deliver the same results for their customers. Because of this, people are busy during the change process and sometimes anxiou,s trying to gain an objective understanding of what works and what doesn't.
Offering transparency during the deployment phase, along with easily understood automatic reports and recommendations, helps your team hit the ground running. Seeing the effects of change in real time is crucial for change management.
Example: Helsinki payroll system update - when small hiccups caused significant issues
Recently, many workers in the city of Helsinki experienced problems with salary payments due to IT errors caused by a payroll system update. The financial department cited errors in the many implementation steps needed to change a system responsible for paying almost 40,000 people.
Several small implementation mistakes resulted in 7,000 unread messages reporting payment problems and workers taking out high-interest loans due to unpaid salaries. One worker was shocked to see a salary of 370,000 euros rather than 3,700 euros in their account. This case showcases how small issues and lack of effective intelligence to monitor implementation can cause, such as:
- Damaged reputations
- Extra time and money required to fix errors
- A slower pace of work
- Frustrated workers and customers
- The need to issue an official apology
- The negative implementation experience will likely hurt the chances of getting employee buy-in for future projects.
- Employees might leave after becoming frustrated with dealing with pain points
- Losing business due to frustrated clients or damaged reputations.
Redesigning and implementation is about improving the previous state for better processes, better work, better systems, and better service.
However, business process implementation is a long and ongoing process that needs to be diligently monitored to be successful. Employees are the most important factor in any business process implementation effort. Employees must be well trained and feel that their voices are heard at all times.