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Process Efficiency: What level are you at?

Achieving True Process Efficiency: Embracing a Holistic Approach

In today's fast-paced business environment, achieving process efficiency is crucial for back office teams. It involves optimising workflows, reducing errors, and streamlining operations to enhance productivity and deliver exceptional results (not forgetting, it optimises the cost base). While focusing on individual tasks or team-specific improvements can yield positive outcomes, the true potential for process efficiency lies in taking a holistic view. By understanding the interconnectedness of processes and working collaboratively across roles and teams, organisations can unlock substantial value. In this blog post, I explore the concept of holistic process efficiency and demonstrate how optimising processes at each level- company, team and role can yield significant benefits.

At the highest level (level 0), we gain a panoramic view of the end-to-end process, such as the "purchase to pay" workflow. This perspective allows us to identify the major steps involved and recognise the interconnectedness of each stage. This level spans the organisation and there is a lot of cross functional involvement here.  As we drill down to level 1, we can focus on specific steps within the process, gaining a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved in areas like supplier selection and negotiation. Finally, at level 2, we zoom in further to individual tasks or subtasks performed by team members, pinpointing the specific actions that contribute to the overall process efficiency. By comprehensively analysing and optimising these levels, we can unlock the true potential for process efficiency throughout the entire operation.

  1. The Pitfalls of Siloed Approaches: Many organisations tend to operate in silos, where individual roles or teams focus solely on their own tasks without considering the impact on the broader process. This siloed approach often leads to inefficiencies, duplication of efforts, and missed opportunities for improvement. Silos create barriers to effective communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, hindering overall process efficiency.

  2. Embracing a Holistic Mindset: To achieve true process efficiency, it is essential to embrace a holistic mindset that transcends individual roles and teams. This involves understanding the end-to-end process, from its initiation to its completion, and recognising how each step influences the subsequent ones. By adopting a total view, organisations can identify areas for optimisation and make strategic decisions that enhance efficiency across the entire process chain.  This is what The White Map helps companies to visualise. 

  3. The Power of Level 0 Process Optimisation: Level 0 processes represent the overarching end-to-end process, such as the "purchase to pay" process. By optimising activities at this level, organisations can drive efficiency throughout the entire process. For example, ensuring accurate price loading during the initial stages eliminates downstream errors, reduces rework, and minimises delays. It sets the foundation for efficiency gains in subsequent steps, including supplier selection, order processing, and invoice reconciliation.  Mapping the entire back office operations also allows a visual of where there is duplications on this spectrum. Often 2 teams do similar work for a slightly different reason, understanding this highlights opportunities for centralisation.

  4. Collaborative Efforts for Success: Achieving holistic process efficiency requires collaboration and communication across roles and teams. By breaking down silos and fostering cross-functional collaboration, organisations can identify bottlenecks, streamline handoffs, and eliminate redundancies. For instance, close coordination between procurement, finance, and operations teams can lead to better contract negotiations, improved supplier relationships, and streamlined payment processes.

  5. Technology and Automation as Enablers: Leveraging technology and automation tools plays a vital role in realising holistic process efficiency. Implementing robust enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, workflow management software, and data analytics solutions enables seamless information flow, enhances visibility, and facilitates real-time decision-making. Automation of repetitive and manual tasks frees up time for employees to focus on value-added activities and process improvements.

Process efficiency in back office teams goes beyond optimising individual tasks or team-specific activities. True efficiency is achieved by taking a holistic view, understanding the interdependencies of processes, and working collaboratively across roles and teams. By optimising processes at higher levels, such as ensuring accurate data input or setting proper guidelines upfront, organisations can unlock efficiency gains throughout the entire level 0 process. 

The White Map will support organisations to identify these opportunities and implement the changes to release the bandwidth in the team to add value to the business in much more effective ways than duplicating effort on non value adding tasks.


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