Anyone working on business transformation in a global organization will recognize McKinsey’s assessment in research published this week:
“The structures, processes, and communications approaches of many far-flung businesses have been stretched to breaking point.”
In Organizing for an emerging world, the McKinsey authors set out survey results – from 300 executives in 17 major global companies – together with their ideas for coping with ‘the cumulative degrees of complexity’ that globalization entails.
Process, in one guise or another, is a recurrent theme. It’s further evidence that a business process management platform is coming to be seen as the essential infrastructure to enable effective and enterprise-wide collaboration on innovation and continuous improvement.
The McKinsey authors dismiss, quite rightly, the view that it’s as simple as global standardization. Benchmarks, standards and industry models are invaluable guides but, at the end of the day, it’s often a complex calculus. Every organization is on its own journey: “No company’s restructuring should be viewed as a blueprint for that of another.”
McKinsey’s respondents themselves identified process as one of the 3 weakest aspects of their organization (from a list of 12, so it’s serious).
McKinsey’s conclusions are sound, and, again, process is the leitmotif throughout:
- Don’t standardise more than is necessary. Which makes it vital to have a platform to manage effectively the ongoing tension between global processes and local variants.
- Fit technology to the process, not vice versa. Break out of thinking that automation and systems are, in themselves, the answer. Which makes it vital to have a platform with an holistic and end-to-end perspective, capable of driving business-led global ERP implementations.
- Listen to all the voices involved. Worry about adoption and communication. Which makes it vital to adopt a process management platform that engages everyone – not just process owners and IT. It must connect with process stakeholders and, as well, support those who execute process and encourage their feedback.
- Implement from the top. Make clear accountability and strategic direction, and don’t be afraid eventually to mandate a new process. Which makes it vital to adopt a process management platform with a top-down implementation methodology, and a robust governance framework, capable of blending top-down command-and-control methods with bottom-up continuous improvement.
So perhaps it’s like this. Today, global businesses typically adopt a company-wide business language to ensure effective communication.
What we’re moving towards is a future where global businesses typically adopt as well a more advanced language to ensure effective collaboration. And the language that enables collaborative innovation, within a governance framework that makes clear roles and accountability, is end-to-end business process.
Nowhere is this more true, of course, than in Global Business Services, where the capability to provide end-to-end process perspectives within a complete governance framework, integrated with documents, real-time KPIs, risks and controls, is rapidly emerging as a critical success factor.