Implementing lasting change through business processes

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By Anjit Ahuja, Chief Internal Auditor, Qatar Cool

It is no surprise that the corporate world is an unpredictable multifaceted environment, particularly with the growth of technology, advanced business models and new competitors around every corner. So how does a business prevail in such an evolutionary and unforgiving environment? The critical factors for any business to survive and conquer its industry are operational excellence and dexterity.

For many, the phrase ‘Business Process Optimization’ may be unclear or daunting, but it is quite straightforward. It means an organization strives for constant improvements, from an operational stand point to efficiency and effectiveness in its entirety.  The essence of such measures is to bring lasting changes in the way that business processes are performed, and more importantly to continuously develop and advance those processes as the business environment grows.

When the business environment transforms, such as new competitors, regulatory changes and technology advancements, the organization needs to evolve by becoming more agile and adapting to the new environment, thus keeping the competitive edge.  Focusing on one or two layers or processes within the organization may not bring about the desired results to fully achieve the organization’s objectives and keep the competitive edge. An organization needs to look at the comprehensive process matrix as this will ensure optimum success when adapting to the new environment.

When an organization is considering implementation of Business Process Optimization projects it is beneficial to understand the pragmatic and functioning definition of business performance, and how to sustain the changes. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach; each organization will require specific exclusive processes to ensure that the business needs and the desired results are met.

Most organizations focus on one-time improvements through short-term key performance indicators (KPIs), which deliver change but seldom deliver sustainable long-lasting results.   To entirely prosper with meaningful transformations, we recommend focusing on the fundamentals of the organization, which incorporates the people, technology and processes.  The business is operative and fruitful in terms of productivity and business output. However, if the fundamentals of the organization lack direction, purpose and processes, the business will remain motionless and cease to advance.  Some organizations perceive their business model and processes as cutting edge. They have economic growth and steady customs, so the need to adapt or change their processes is unnecessary, with the mindset ‘if it is not broke, don’t fix it’.  These organizations are normally the first to tumble when the business environment changes.  Whether the business is structurally stable or untouchable in its industry, the need for incrementally refining processes is a necessity, to ensure continuity and sustainability.

Processes continue to be at the heart of any organization; organizational transformation or business improvement can only have visible and lasting value if it happens at the process level. A key challenge facing businesses in this competitive and dynamic world is how to remain agile while still ensuring continuous business improvements in terms of available solutions and service delivery.  Business process review or redesign is an ideal opportunity to review current internal controls embedded within the organization to ensure that the controls are optimized. This will ensure that there is maximum benefit at the lowest cost from the investments.

While process optimization is often a goal when analyzing business processes, there might be reasons why efforts fail. These relate to not managing the change effectively, not having an effective team, not establishing clear goals (e.g. what to optimize: time, cost, quality, advanced experience, consistency, standardization) or not appropriately understanding processes. These risks should be managed effectively to ensure that process optimization projects achieve the intended benefits.

Qatar Cool promotes an environment where constant evaluation of processes is encouraged, where critical processes are under the microscope by cross departmental efforts. Examples include our Operation and Services department’s processes which are being monitored and reevaluated by our Technical Department. In addition, efforts such as self-audits are in place for each department to constantly improve. The outcome is that we now have more advanced granular processes, but also a more effective controlled environment as well as a culture of continuous improvement.

As strong as an organization may be, there will be continuously new advancements and competitors around every corner.  If an organization wishes to stay stationary in its industry it needs to be prepared to be surpassed.  Every organization should strive to be the best it can be by acclimatizing to the inevitable changing environment.