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Businesses need to tame operational chaos before it’s too late

Digital network matric moving in a organic wave
Digital network matric moving in a organic wave

Enterprise operations are spiraling. Over the past few years, 86% of businesses have substantially grown their tech stack, and 76% say it has become more chaotic.

As new technologies are added, new processes follow—often without proper integration or governance. Left unchecked, disconnected systems and tangled processes breed inefficiencies, blind spots, and vulnerabilities. Disjointed workflows can ruin customer experiences. Scattered data and manual reporting create a nightmare for compliance. And innovation suffers as employees waste time navigating the maze. 
Generative AI (GenAI) is the next massive disruption, and it’s already compounding this chaos. Now, business users can spin up new applications and processes at an unprecedented rate. 
Consider these takeaways from our annual survey of senior leaders: 

  • IT and line of business users clash over deploying new apps and/or building integrations (80%) 
  • Tech issues slow down—or even stop—decision-making or action (80%); almost half of those say it’s because duplicate processes or work cause internal conflicts, and two in five say it’s because the process is too complicated
  • Disruption to or pause in operations and/or complete services shutdown happens far too often due to technology issues (89%) 
Chaos of Connectivity bar graphs (3).
These findings paint a picture of enterprises that aren’t in control of business processes. Instead, they’re in a reactive state. Unable to create order, they are left scrambling to clean up messes.  
This isn’t a temporary situation. In the wake of the 2020 pandemic, it became clear that things would never go ‘back to normal.’ As the pace of change continues to accelerate in technology, customer expectations, geopolitics, talent, and general security, it’s time to accept that there is no "new normal," either.  
Like it or not, operational chaos is here to stay, unless you find a way to take control.  

Diagnosing Operational Chaos

If you find your organization facing any of the following challenges, there’s a good chance operational chaos is to blame.

  • A Wild West of Operations - Lack of control and standardization has turned your operations into the Wild West. Business users are spinning up new applications and services with minimal IT governance, leading to sprawl, inefficiency, and hefty compliance risks.
  • Falling Behind the Competition - While some companies are racing ahead, others are mired in chaos. Duplicate processes and other inefficiencies impede the ability to differentiate and compete. Keeping the lights on, let alone innovating better or cheaper offerings, becomes a challenge.
  • Slow and Unresponsive - Complexity is weighing companies down. 80% say their sprawling tech infrastructure hampers agility and productivity. Attempts to launch new products, improve customer experiences, and boost profitability fall victim to operational chaos.
  • Increasingly Vulnerable - With limited visibility into a tangle of processes, risks lurk in the shadows. Cyber threats, supply chain exposure, and compliance gaps grow as 65% of organizations struggle with governance in the face of rising complexity.

Businesses must act to tame the chaos. They must ensure that their operational processes and systems fully align with and support their business strategy. This means becoming an organization where every process is purposefully designed to drive efficiency, agility, and business outcomes. Finally, they must manage the ongoing proliferation of processes without stifling innovation.

Chaos of Connectivity bar graphs (3).

Tame the Chaos: How Business Process Management Unlocks Operational Excellence

The answer to effective operations lies in Business Process Management (BPM). BPM weaves human, and document-based processes into a unified view. It provides the critical visibility and control you need to understand your operations, identify inefficiencies, and drive continuous improvement.

With BPM, you can finally address a pain point 81% of organizations face: not having a clear view and ability to manage their area.

Imagine a world where you manage business processes proactively. Your operations are a well-oiled machine, perfectly aligned with your business goals. All your strategic process architecture is laid out in visual form. With real-time visibility into every process, you can identify and eliminate bottlenecks, errors, and waste. You can quickly respond to changes and opportunities, rolling out new processes and technologies quickly and confidently. This is the world that BPM makes possible.

With BPM as your foundation, you can:

Differentiate through Efficiency

Efficient processes are a simple way to pull ahead of the pack. For example, finding savings is exceedingly tricky in a lean industry like large grocery retail. With BPM, companies can find ways to shave small amounts of cost out of their processes. With a single source of truth gathered across thousands of processes, opportunities come to light: for example, putting milk on the shelves at a lower price than competitors. This type of optimization is no easy task, but it’s how Tesco uses BPM to differentiate and outperform the competition.

Service efficiencies can also be a powerful differentiator as customer expectations continually increase. For example, in the highly competitive banking industry, banks must create a smooth customer experience based on a responsible, transparent process. While this is a tall order, understanding bottlenecks and process inefficiencies is the first step to improving interactions. Once systems or documents are identified as points of friction, they can be redesigned to optimize the customer experience.
Putting out a better product faster is always a desirable differentiator, but easier said than done. Transparency across the R&D cycle helps teams that use BPM perform more effective management and analysis. That means more opportunities to spot improvements and make fixes. Huaqin Technologies increased its product development efficiency by 30% with BPM.
Efficiency-driven differentiation can also take the form of increased reliability. When wait times for products are unpredictable, service levels vary. Consistency and transparency can win against competitors with inconsistent or opaque processes. Shipping companies, for example, that can find new routes to ensure delivery amid disruptions to usual routes—without increasing costs—will win.

Take Control without Compromise

82% of organizations struggle with shadow IT. Whenever an employee does something that creates a new process outside of IT’s control and management systems, it adds to operational chaos. This doesn’t just disrupt internal processes—it can also throw customer processes into disarray. Organizations like Weifu take control of these situations with strategic use of BPM.

Organizations also need to find a way to empower employees without losing control. For example, controlling the rollout of low/no-code solutions can give employees more freedom. Employees can create their own processes or applications without adding to operational chaos and while remaining within standardized procedures.

Where organizations can control the rollout of new systems, they can also ensure that all employees are well informed so there is no duplication to cause conflicts. This will not only improve efficiency but also contribute to more successful investments. Retailer Alicorp used BPM to speed up the rollout of new tools, consolidate 60 years of core processes, and increase efficiency by 20%.

Gain Agility at Scale

We can anticipate some of the ways the world will change. Other changes are surprises. Businesses have to be quick to respond in any situation. Effective use of BPM can speed up the rollout of new processes by 40%.

In our post-pandemic world, employers battle to retain top talent. Most companies are overseeing some form of return-to-office programs, but enabling a digital workforce wherever it's located remains essential. Any uncertainty about who needs what, where, and when adds difficulty. Digital policies and operating procedures can help ensure that all employees get what they need.

As innovation advances, the big question is not whether to take advantage of new technologies but how. Businesses that can move rapidly have a tremendous opportunity to differentiate. Whether you’re considering artificial intelligence (AI) or other tools, knowing what to automate is a tricky question without fully understanding how operations work. Trading Company ITOCHU used Process Modeling to improve work efficiency with a 50% time reduction in its digital transformation process.

Customer experience is also highly variable. Businesses need to track fluctuating customer expectations and know how to make effective changes. Claro used BPM to deliver customer excellence through process excellence. Similarly, if process breakdowns create the potential for problems in the customer experience, spotting them ahead of time can prevent them. It could mean the difference between happy customers and apologizing.

Stable core operations create a baseline of good performance—especially for train companies, who need to make the service run on time. OBB Infrastruktur increased punctuality to 95% while saving €30m.

Build Resilience in the Face of Risk

Process excellence reduces challenges and risks on several fronts. Most critically, operational excellence and resilience are necessary for compliance and business continuity.

Using BPM technology to manage processes across the business provides evidence of what’s happening, how, and why. This documentation proves compliance, as well as recording structures and processes that can be used to respond to risks or unexpected events. In highly regulated industries, streamlining processes to make them easier to oversee is a huge regulatory milestone. Phoenix Group digitized its process documents and simplified visibility across its healthcare organization. Its streamlined digital system now makes compliance straightforward.

As organizations become more complex, it’s essential to understand how risks and challenges intersect and create dependencies. The more complicated the organization, the greater the need for quality management. With 450 companies and 81,000 staff on site, Frankfurt Airport uses BPM to bring transparency to its governance.

Chaos of Connectivity bar graphs (3).

With BPM, You Can Stop Reacting and Take Action

BPM is not just about taming chaos but about unlocking a new level of performance and potential. It allows you to break down silos, drive end-to-end optimization, and align your operations with your strategic vision. You can create a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement, where every process is an opportunity to innovate, optimize, and create value. 
But this perfect world doesn't happen by chance. It requires a commitment to process excellence as a disciplined practice. Business process management demands the same rigor and focus you bring to financial management.  
The good news is that the path is proven, and the benefits are real. By embracing BPM, you can turn operational chaos into your competitive advantage and chart a course to a future of operational excellence
The only question is, are you ready to take control? 
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