Process Centric Enterprise Architecture: Aligning with Successful Customer Outcomes

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Process Architect, Old Mutual plc
Gerhard Basson is the Process Architect for OMEM IT. Gerhard has designed and engineered systems and processes for various businesses over 20 years. He developed methodologies on the use of business rules, processes and information quality which have been incorporated into systems engineering principles. At Old Mutual he established a reference architecture and an improvement framework, which is the foundation for business architectures for various business units. He has assisted in major process assessments and improvements utilising various ISO standards and de facto standards such as CMMI and COBIT. He has been appointed as the national convenor for process assessment standards and represents South Africa at the international ISO meetings. He is well-versed as a speaker and is invited regularly to speak at conferences on topics such as business architecture, process-centric enterprise architecture and process improvement. Gerhard has published a series of articles with the BPM Institute and has co-authored a technical paper which was published in “Benchmarking: An International Journal” by Emerald. Gerhard holds degrees in BComm (Financial Accounting and Business Economics), BS (Computer Science) and BSc (Artificial Intelligence and Information Science), a diploma in Missionary Work and is a certified process professional.

Every primary process in the Enterprise Architecture should have some bearing on how it affects the customer. The process, its activities and the resources to perform the activities should be geared towards achieving Successful Customer Outcomes. When we state the requirements for the services, the processes, the resources and the IT systems or when we design or develop the solution, the interaction with the customer and the goals of the customer should be stated and represented clearly.

I discussed the process centric approach to Enterprise Architecture in a previous article. In this article I will focus on the solutions from such architecture.

How do we change our solutions to achieve Successful Customer Outcomes?

A major mind-shift is required to design and develop solutions that are focussed on Successful Customer Outcomes. The business analyst, solution architect, solution designer, developer, system analyst and tester have to understand that what they are doing affects real customers – those that are willing to pay for our services and in so doing pay our salaries.

Think different about product and service: no organisation sells only products – all products are part of a service. It is this service associated with a product that differentiates similar products and achieves Successful Customer Outcomes. I have yet to come across a product that is not part of a service. When an organisation realises that all products are part of a service and that customers pay for services, then they start viewing their products, services and processes very differently.

When we illicit requirements or design / develop / test / implement the solution, we have to understand how it impacts, affects or interfaces with the customer. For example: if the solution is used by a call entre agent – understand that the call centre agent is not the primary user of the solution. The customer that phones in or walks in is interfacing with that solution – the call centre agent is just an intermediary to the solution. Don’t forget: this is all part of the service to the customer.

This understanding is much more important when the customer interfaces directly with a solution, for example through the internet. The requirements for the solution may be stated by business people, but the successful utilisation and satisfactory outcome is realised by the customer. We provide the customer with alternative means to personal contact and these interactions must achieve the goal that the customer has set out to do, whether it is banking, buying or doing everyday business online.

Think different about customer facing solutions: when we have successfully moved the customer of our premises and onto online means, do we reimburse the customer for doing our work? Having less customers walking our floors or occupying our telephones, means that the employees can do other work. The company is saving money, but how does this affect the customer? When we stop viewing these solutions as a favour to the customer and rather see them as a favour to our business, we will realise the impact this has on our revenue and service.

Realising that the solutions we develop impacts Successful Customer Outcomes is only the start. Next we need to actively engage with the customer to understand their goals, outcomes and needs. This is not only for the marketing people, but for everyone involved in shaping the service. When the solution is designed around the customer, then we can achieve Successful Customer Outcomes through a customer oriented service.

A sample plan for achieving Successful Customer Outcomes:

This is an abbreviated plan for achieving Successful Customer Outcomes through customer oriented services:

  • Identify the drivers for achieving Successful Customer Outcomes, such as reducing cost, improving performance, increasing revenue and enhancing customer experience
  • Identify and understand the processes that make up every service in terms of their objectives and outcomes and how these relate to Successful Customer Outcomes
  • Describe the work that must be done using the 5 basic capabilities required for any organisation: Guidance, Process, Resource, People and Information
  • Identify the elements that must be removed / improved / added (or a combination of these)
    • Design the new processes around the service delivered to the customer in a phased approach:
      • Start with the processes that develop new products and services as these will define and incorporate Successful Customer Outcomes
      • Next up is the processes that affect or interface with the client directly
      • Then focus on the processes one step removed (the “back-office” processes)
      • The next consideration is the “manage the process” processes (those that deliver measures and metrics to management to manage processes in real-time)
      • Then look at “executive processes” – they mostly only produce reports and aggregated totals
    • Identify the success factors for the new processes, which will relate to Successful Customer Outcomes
    • Decide which processes to automate
    • Develop the solution to achieve the objectives and outcomes of the processes selected for automation
    • Last, but very important: set the stage for continual improvement with a feedback loop from the process.

Service Excellence and achieving Successful Customer Outcomes are only as good as the people at work and the activities they perform. When we focus on the right outcomes, it will change what we do, how we do it and how we think about what we do.

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