WHO

Process managers and employees close to the process can use this technique.

WHAT

Using social business tools, ways of working and behaviours to incrementally improve each task or activity in a given process.

WHY

Using this technique allows a team or cross-functional group to make marginal gains on each task and each step of a process without breaking the existing flow. This technique also helps to embed collaboration in the flow of work. Embedded social tools that allow collaboration and communication to be a product of people’s work, rather than additional overheads, have higher levels of adoption.

HOW

Designing social wrap-arounds for a process has the following major steps:
  1. Identify key processes to be tackled, based on their potential to impact strategic business goals and E2.0 goals;
  2. Analyse the social attributes of each stage of the process to provide an initial focus for action;
  3. Define a community and content architecture to support the key process and its sub-processes; and,
  4. Map the process and its pain points to develop more detailed recommendations.

Analysing the Social Attributes of a Key Process

When considering how E2.0 and associated new ways of working can provide a social surround to enhance an existing business process, we consider the social attributes and needs of each stage of the process to identify where we can improve them:

  • Data-sharing: how could the sub-process make better use of data from different areas of the business, for example to improve market, customer and business intelligence?
  • Networked: how could better social network connections ease communication by bringing the right people together?
  • Transparency: how could more transparent sharing of data or knowledge, such as ‘working out loud’ in communities, improve outcomes?
  • Findability: how could better tagging and classification of information mean that people have access to the right data at the right time?
  • Visualisation: how could visualisation of data and process flows make apparently-complicated information more accessible and comprehensible?
  • Collaboration: how could the sub-process be improved by making it easier for different teams to work together more efficiently?
  • Co-creation: how could we help different teams to build on the work of their colleagues to combine outputs to leverage each others’ resources and capabilities to create new value?
  • Accessibility: how could easier access to information, people and tools ‘in the flow of work’ make the sub-process more efficient and reliable?

Mapping the Process and its Pain Points

Looking at each sub-process from the point of view of its social attributes can help identify improvements and enhancements.

Step 1: Discovery

To understand the current way the process is managed and performed, informed by documentation and interviews of people involved, to create both a normative (how a process should flow) and descriptive (how a process actually happens) picture. The resulting process maps will almost always deviate from the normative in some areas where workarounds are necessary and pain points exist.

Step 2: General Overview of Improvements

Also look at how similar processes are run elsewhere in the organisation, benchmarking against these other instances and looking for any lessons learned or good practice.

Step 3: Pain Points

How pain points, exception handling and workarounds can be resolved or improved with specific E2.0 recommendations. In particular, we are looking for workflows and use cases that have the following characteristics, as these are obvious E2.0 use cases:

  • Use of heavy documentation
  • Interaction between many parties both in one department and across departments
  • Progress is made through iterations between several parties
  • Information gathered in on sequence of the process is needed in another sequence
  • Asynchronised process sequences
  • Data and insights can improve the success of the process output
  • Potential for errors in interpretation due to language or cultural barriers
  • Cross functional collaboration between highly specialised experts
  • Data is currently classified as sensitive and therefore not shared
  • Customer requirements in a phase are so complex as to be subject to multiple interpretations during acquisition
  • Organisational structures are not evenly matched
  • There are many examples of uses of an escalation process during a particular node or phase

It is useful to reference the ideas of Service Design, which is a useful way of analysing how any complex process can be improved from a user-centric point of view. Applying service-orientation thinking to a key business process can be used both for a system process and user level process.

On the process level, the focus is to assess the process sequence as a part of the whole. Processes should be developed in a way that means that, although the sub-processes might be self-contained, they are aligned in terms of output, data and workflows to minimise waste. The aim is that the process design ensures that each sequence’s workflows and activities are performed in a way that they service other sequences by exchange information automatically without the need for modifications.

The purpose of the user level is to adjust the process to encourage accessibility and usability from user’s perspective. The main goal is to make the process as simple as possible by reviewing process flow, process requirements and user interfaces. These should create an environment in which the user wants to engage with the process and can do so without unnecessary overhead.

System level recommendations include:

  • Promoting cross-sequence understanding and encourage alignment of output, data and workflows.
  • Increasing co-creation by permitting sequences to request new shared solutions and alignments.

User level recommendations: 

  • Develop processes in a user-centred design
  • Deploy analytics and measurement to drive evidence based improvements of processes and interfaces continuously.
  • Invite employees to help co-design and resume feedback projects regularly.
  • Enforce order and common logic in all systems and interfaces to increase accessibility.

Finally, when communicating the changes to the process flow implied by the E2.0 strategy, it is useful to share the visualisation of the enhanced key process storyline – ideally in the form of a simple overall process map – so that associates can see what social tools they are expected to use, when, how and for what benefit.

SOURCES

Key Characteristics of a Mature Social Platform Implementation by Cerys Hearsey

The ESN as Part of a New Organisational Operating System by Cerys Hearsey

Growing & Grafting New Organisational Tissue:
 HR’s Role in Change by Lee Bryant

Digital Transformation Requires Better Organisational Structures by Lee Bryant

The Limits of Social Technology Within Existing Organisational Structure and Culture by Lee Bryant