How do we acquire process intelligence?

This is the second of three posts on the Functional Fast Track session that I conducted at the 21st Annual North American Shared Services and Outsourcing Week entitled Digitizing the P2P Process to Create Process Intelligence and Better Customer Experience

March 8, 2017, Lowes Royal Pacific, Orlando, Florida

There are four areas in our process performance management system that we need to get right in order to advance from process visibility towards process intelligence.

  • Well-designed KPIs

The first of these components are well-designed KPIs. KPIs are dynamic — changing in usefulness over time depending on the company’s strategy. KPIs are only as good as the underlying tracking system designed for the purpose.

KPIs 2.jpg

  • Timely alerts for quick decisions

Real-time in-process alerts prompt process owners to evaluate detailed process data feeds. Alerts are often signals that something’s gone wrong. Some process alerts flag events that we wish to monitor because they possibly signify a breach of acceptable process variation.

Alerts may be visual, audio, or mechanical and cover the range from a notification of a low-level glitch, a warning of a mid-level problem, or an alarm of a major failure. The table below lists some examples of what may be monitored using alerts.

Alerts examples

  • Process Analysis

Performance tracking should enable a continuing assessment of the process along the dimensions of speed, cost, quality, quantity and risk. This analysis should lead to prompt decisions about the best mix of vendor, item, location, price and terms.

This assessment is often done against benchmarks. An example of benchmarking would be a comparison of two or more regions or locations as a way to discover the failure modes within a process.

  • Stakeholder relevance

While process owners are the primary beneficiary of process intelligence, there are other functional stakeholders who need decision-relevant information.

One important stakeholder is the supplier.  As more companies seek to move into fully deployed supply chain systems, some even argue that key suppliers should be elevated as a customer or a partner of the P2P process. Providing suppliers with information can certainly help in keeping the P2P process humming along. Sometimes, this is as simple as providing online information on why an invoice is not being approved. A further example: sharing demand forecasts to suppliers of services to help them plan the deployment of their technical people.

These four focus areas enable us to think about the business in process terms – what we earlier referred to as this process visibility – and marshal process action for the right tasks at the right time – which is process intelligence.

Process intelligence 2

In the next blog post, we will will tackle the project steps in designing a process performance management system and end with some practical pointers to smooth the digitization journey leading to process intelligence.

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