All over Europe, the urgent call is for growth. Yet how can companies grow when demand is shrinking and the investment climate is still so unpredictable? For many business leaders, recession is causing a renewed, internal focus. Instead of product or service innovation, smart leaders are turning to process innovation, otherwise known as business process management (BPM), to find new efficiencies and boost all-important margins in the quest for growth.
Process innovation is increasingly finding its way into boardroom conversations. In a global study of over 1,000 senior business and IT decision makers, commissioned by Capgemini, over 60% of respondents said BPM should be managed directly by the executive board. And in a clear sign that the volatile economic climate was causing business leaders to focus on internal processes, 68% said that if the recession continued it would persuade them to invest even more heavily in BPM, which, with the advent of the new generation of sophisticated modeling and process execution technologies has greatly enhanced the power to truly transform businesses.
In industries in which change is enforced, the need for process innovation is that much greater. The financial services sector, which is under pressure by regulators to tighten risk management practices, is a case in point. High-profile incidents, such as the recent rogue trader cases at UBS and JP Morgan, have highlighted the need for much stricter process management to ensure that risky behavior of employees doesn’t threaten the survival of the company. In an investment bank, where losses can rapidly escalate, robust processes act as an added layer of security. Over three quarters of survey respondents from the financial services sector identified compliance as a key driver for their business, with almost half admitting they would increase investment in BPM in the coming year in response to expected regulation changes.
It’s not just regulation that drives change.
Consumers can exert a similar pressure, especially in the age of social media. Customer relationship management (CRM) is increasingly delivered on the back of process management solutions – according to our survey, almost four out of five firms who launched a BPM program reported an improvement in customer relationship management (CRM). That’s because even with the most engaged employees, customer satisfaction isn’t likely to grow without end-to-end process improvement. CRM touches a number of enterprise systems, such as operations, finance and e-commerce. BPM enables companies to integrate their CRM data with these other systems, ensuring that when a customer calls, their request is logged accurately and actioned. Since the rise of social media, a medium in which many customers expect an immediate, integrated response, solid underlying processes are more important than ever.
Pleasing customers is difficult without an engaged workforce. In our survey, three quarters of companies (74%) said that process management boosts staff satisfaction by helping to reduce task duplication and improve internal organization. It’s almost universally true that satisfied, productive employees, who have a clear idea of their role, tend to be much happier in their work. At a time when economic conditions are having a detrimental effect on workforce morale, discretionary effort can be hard to come by. But productivity has a dual benefit, being healthy not only for the bottom line, but also for employee engagement. In this way, BPM becomes self-fulfilling: businesses that concentrate on process improvement are usually also full of happy employees, who in turn are more likely to work even harder. In a tough economic environment, smart leaders are finding that growth comes from within – driving internal efficiency, sustainability and agility.
By Bob Scott, Head of Capgemini’s Business Process Management Global Service Line.