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Breaking down operational silos vital for process improvement

Ben Farrell
November 13, 2012

Improving business processes is often a difficult task. According to a recent Information Management task, the greatest challenge comes in connecting people to the corporate efforts and enabling them to improve operations.

Making process innovation personal

Speaking at the recent AIIM Conference, Mark McGregor, principal analyst for MWD, explained that even bringing up the concept of business process management can turn employees off to the idea of improving processes. In this case, BPM is not the problem. The issue is that many people see BPM as a wholly technological solution that does not take their needs into account. This perception is far from the reality, as BPM solutions can enable considerable process growth. But to reach this goal, the focus needs to be on the people first, while the technology comes as a strategic deployment later. To accomplish this, organizations need to break down operational silos and learn to work across departments, the report explained.

Overcoming business silos

According to the news source, McGregor told audiences at the conference that one of the most important things that businesses have to do to improve processes is to cross operational silos. Boundaries between departments are not only problematic because they limit collaboration, it also makes it difficult to enable process innovation in a personal, staff-focused way.

"If you're running your teams in isolation, then there's a pretty good chance you're creating more work for yourself ... which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense in today's economic world," said McGregor, Information Management reported.

Getting to the technology

BPM software and similar tools are vital to enabling process innovation. But companies striving to improve processes need to ensure that they focus on technology as the enabler, not the entity that is going to make the improvement happen. BPM software allows employees to optimize their process, it does not usually improve processes on its own. As a result, organizations have to begin any process-improvement plans by focusing on how their employees can get the job done more effectively and be engaged in their efforts. Technology can then be implemented to streamline the tasks that make it difficult for workers to achieve their process-related goals.

Through such a strategy, employees first embrace the operational changes because they understand how those efforts can improve their day-to-day efforts. Once this is accomplished, the technology steps in to maximize efforts and enable workers to achieve their process-innovation goals.