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Business Process Assessment: Transforming Relationships

By Erin Koss, CPA is an Andersen Business Consulting Alumni (1993-1999), and CEO of Syte Consulting Group, Inc.

Transformation is one of my favorite words. To me it means big changes that result in meaningful impact.

For a manufacturing company today, successful digital transformation — which often involves implementing a new ERP solution or upgrading an outdated one — results in more than gaining a competitive edge. It results in optimized workflows, more engaged employees, streamlined operations, and a firmer foundation for growth both now and into the future.

To do a big transformation as fast and efficiently as possible, though, requires a different approach than more traditional organizations are often used to.

Though the end result may revolve around technological solutions, the place the Syte team starts in order to deliver a successful project is … less technical.

For an ERP initiative, the place we start to ensure success is a business process assessment — and we take a collaborative, cross functional, relationship-focused approach to this for good reason.

  • An ERP implementation isn’t just about installing new software — it’s about enabling growth. As your company grows and tries to scale, it’s important to understand what is slowing it down, what are the challenges in the existing processes, and where are the gaps and bottlenecks.
  • A successful transformational change initiative transforms everything — your technology, your people and your processes — and it’s important that as the project is planned and implemented, none of these things get left out or short changed. This requires teamwork to accomplish.
  • As the technology is leveled up, so should the existing team and processes be leveled up to ensure long-term success. As we transform the organization, we empower it for greater success going forward.

Business process assessment and relationship-building go hand in hand. Successful transformational change — one that builds a better future for the company — is collaborative rather than prescriptive.

Let’s take a closer look at how relationships are important in doing a thorough assessment of your business processes, and how engaging your team members in this way strengthens those working relationships in return.

Collaboration Breaks Down Silos and Builds Up Collaborative Organizations

In some ways, the traditional organizational structure of many manufacturing companies is set up for division — different business units carry out specialized tasks and the lines of responsibility are clear. For highly regulated industries like manufacturing, this makes sense: Everyone knows what they're accountable for, and outcomes are fairly predictable.

The problem with this operational model is that it often leads to operational silos. Individual departments focus on their own functions and processes, with little exposure to other areas of the business.

To get a full picture of your end-to-end business processes, you need to break down those silos and bring your stakeholders together. When you get the right people in the room, they share their knowledge and expertise with each other. This two-way communication can quickly expose gaps or inefficiencies in your existing processes — before you codify those same processes into your ERP.

At the same time, you’re also laying the groundwork for a smoother transition when it’s time for implementation. Because they’ve been invited to participate in the business process assessment, team members have more awareness of the company’s critical business processes and will be in a better position to help move the ERP implementation forward.

Business Process Assessments Build New Relationships

The interplay between broad organizational initiatives and strong working relationships is often a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. Good working relationships make for a much stronger and more thorough business process assessment, but the exercise itself actually strengthens the relationships between employees who don’t normally work alongside each other.

When we work with our clients on their business process assessments, we start by identifying the right people and bringing them together. In fact, we’ve found that involving key stakeholders upfront creates strong collaborative relationships where they might not have existed before.

There are a couple ways to approach this. There’s the collaboration between different business functions — say, Procurement and Finance — to get an end-to-end picture of a particular business process. But there’s also the relationship between the “business” side of the organization and the “technology” side — the team that provides the software and systems to employees so they can get the work done.

Historically, there hasn’t always been a lot of direct collaboration between the business and technical parts of the business in the manufacturing world. Technology is usually selected by IT in a relative vacuum and then signed-off on by leadership without a cross-functional look at all the requirements. Finally, IT tests and deploys it to the organization, and business units are told to use it. I believe this approach represents a missed opportunity. There is so much expertise on each side of the house, bringing them together leads to better solutions for everyone.

Building better internal relationships during the business process assessment sets the stage for longer-term collaboration within the organization. Employees become more invested when they see their input reflected in the software they use, and the IT people can see how their contribution impacts the functioning and well-being of the business. Ideally, the communication and responsiveness on both sides will encourage employee-driven innovation long after the ERP implementation is complete.

This is where bringing in an outside team is a huge advantage. Outside experts aren’t subject to existing internal silos, and they can help you pull the right people into the right rooms to do things better and faster. Outside experts do more than just deliver a better technical solution — they connect your people while bringing in capabilities and capacity to support change at a more rapid pace.

Relationships Are Key to Growth and Scale

When you engage stakeholders across all of your organizational functions for a business process assessment, you’re building more than a bigger picture. You’re building a team of knowledgeable allies who will ultimately drive the success of your business.

Are you planning a business process assessment for your organization? We’d love to help and facilitate the right conversations with your team. Schedule your complimentary consultation right here.

Erin Koss, CPA is an Andersen Business Consulting Alumni (1993-1999), and CEO of Syte Consulting Group, Inc. She is known for helping family-owned manufacturing companies scale with vision and integrity. Taking a people-first, process and technology readiness approach, Erin and the team at Syte ensure companies are ready to take on big change initiatives like ERP before diving in headfirst. A native to the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys traveling, being outdoors, hiking, biking, rowing, and supporting local culinary scene. Talk to Erin about preparing your company for sustainable growth.