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Don’t Look Now, but Process Changes are Coming

Robert Regis Hyle | June 23, 2014

Is there anything that draws leery looks from the staff than the announcement that the company is going to re-examine the processes being used to conduct business. The reason for staff disillusionment is not that they don’t want to be effective in the way they operate, they are just skeptical of the reasons behind such examinations.

Unless a company is operating with an entirely new set of systems, it is pretty easy to see that different business users often do the same job in different ways. Some of these changes may be subtle, but the thing about subtle changes is the longer you allow them the larger the gap becomes between different users and the way the system is supposed to operate.

Examining processes can be a valuable function for carriers, particularly as they prepare to implement new systems. Knowing the tendencies of business users allows the carrier to ensure users are following the same set of procedures.

Users want to do the work in the quickest way possible and sometimes that means doing it in ways that are not drawn up by the process engineers. That doesn’t make what the users do wrong. In fact, openness among business users can enable the IT staff to develop systems that reflect the way business can be conducted more effectively.

The institutional memory of the business staff often is far greater than the software solution providers and the IT staff looking to incorporate new systems into the enterprise, but business users are fearful that those charged with implementing multi-million dollar solutions feel they know what is best for the company rather than tapping into the knowledge base that sits right before them.

I recently interviewed Pascal Lavoie of the Canadian personal lines insurer IAAH who explained that following a failed implementation, the IAAH staff conducted a study of every single process being done by its business users. Lavoie explains that the company gathered this information to understand what was being done and how it was being done before a second software system was purchased.

This was not the only factor in ensuring the second implementation was a success, but Lavoie indicated that understanding what it is that employees do and adjusting to those needs with new software makes more sense than telling people to forget everything they’ve done before because this is the way it will be done in the future. Another classic example of repeating mistakes rather than learning from them.

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