Fortune 500 companies invest heavily in IT and technology today. A good percentage of the IT investment is geared towards automating some repetitive or laborious business process. The idea is to improve efficiency by accelerating a particular business process through use of technology and perhaps use some enterprise software product for the same.
However before using technology to examine how things can be automated and accelerated it is first important to examine whether the advances in information technology and communication make the need for an existing business process unnecessary, irrelevant, redundant, or obsolete. This way a company’s resources can accordingly be better reorganized and used more effectively towards achieving the organization business objectives rather that spending that time and energy in automating unnecessary processes.
Thus we define Technological Process Engineering as using advancements in Information technology, communication and online networking to the fundamentally rethink and radically redesign business processes and their supporting IT products to achieve dramatic improvements in performance, such as cost, quality, service, and speed and most importantly achieve business objectives and customer satisfaction.
The challenge then is to identify how to re engineer business process and work things better by leveraging the advents in technology. The central idea is to be technology centric and business objectives centric versus being legacy centric and process centric. The developments in technology may obviate certain business processes but the habit and inertia of doing things a particular way limits managers to think within the box. Instead managers end up using technology to accelerated existing processes through IT, before evaluating whether technology can be used to replace a business process or have better value-added steps through technological process reengineering.
The first step is to examine what are the business objectives of the division and/or organization. Examine the organization mission statement and the value asset that the organization delivers. The key is to understand what are the business needs, rather than how it is currently being done
A Use Case Analysis supplemented by workflow diagrams and storyboard analysis is a great way to capture the existing business case. However the use cases at this point must be kept focused on what is needed and not how to accomplish that need.
Secondly examine what the customers want and what is their business need. The customers could be the end customers or for instance all the stakeholders within the value chain are in turn customers to each other.
Once everyone understands what the business needs are it is time to brainstorm existing technology tools and focus on the “how”. This will allow one to think out of the box and apply technology solutions while understanding the core underlying business need. Think of what technological innovation will allow the business need to be met directly without the need of additional steps in between.
Also examine how some technology is currently being used by people outside the business world. This is a leading indicator that that technology can and will soon becomes part of the business world. For example email communication started off as being part of personal use however soon extended to business use. Similarly twitter and other social networking sites started of as platforms of personal use but have now become a way for businesses to connect with their clients and audience.
Thus this technology-centric process improvement focuses on ways and means to leverage the ever changing world of business technology and communication. It thinks about innovations in business process as a result of technology and technology is the “Pull” Driver instead of existing processes and habits limiting one’s imagination and forcing existing Business processes to drive the same. Tools and advanced in technology and communication can be applied towards meeting the customer objectives by examining if certain processes can be replaced with technology rather than adapting technology to automate existing process.