Mobile computing poised to reinvent business process management systems

Mobile computing poised to reinvent business process management systems

Date: Apr 16, 2013

Anne Stuart, Site Editor

Mobile computing is revolutionizing everything, and business process management (BPM) is no exception, according to Clay Richardson.

Traditional BPM focuses largely on enabling interactions between an organization's front and back offices, the Forrester Research senior analyst says in this videocast, the last in a two-part series on mobile BPM. (In part 1, Richardson provides a mobile BPM overview.) But when companies reinvent processes to accommodate mobility, the traditional distinctions start to disappear, he says. "It's really about the customer engaging, the employee engaging and getting work done. They don't care if it's the front office or the back office as long as it gets done."

In addition, traditional BPM emphasizes increasing efficiency and reducing cycle time. In contrast, mobile strives to optimize user experience. "We're shifting more toward guidance and providing enough context, enough richness, to guide the customer, the employee, the partner through the process, to the outcome that they want," Richardson says.

That shift involves massively reinventing business processes, starting from the "atomic level," Richardson says. In this videocast, prepared exclusively for SearchSOA.com and its sister TechTarget site ebizQ, he offers step-by-step advice on how to tackle that job. He also provides an inside look at how employees at British Airways, Gaylord Resorts and Ottawa Hospital, a major Canadian medical center, use mobile devices to better serve their customers, guests and patients.


Editor's Note: Following is a transcript of the second of two presentations on mobile BPM, both featuring Forrester Research Senior Analyst Clay Richardson. This transcript has been edited for clarity and editorial style.

In the first segment, we focused on highlighting new approaches that we're seeing companies take to reinvent business processes for mobile. In this segment, we wanted to drill in a little bit more to highlight specific steps you can take to begin reinventing processes in your company for mobile and then also give some specific examples that we're seeing in case studies.

So just to go back for second: Most of you listening may have, or probably have, some business process management [(BPM)] background. When we think of traditional business process improvement and business process management approaches versus reinvention, there are some contrasts that you want to consider.

Business process management systems: The traditional view

When we look at traditional process improvement, historically, it's been about back office versus front office--this layered approach to getting work done. When we talk about reinvention, this connection and friction between back office and front office begins to disappear. It's really about the customer engaging, the employee engaging, and getting work done. They don't care if it's the front office or the back office as long as it gets done. When we reinvent business processes, the focus is on moving towards frictionless engagement.

Also, when we look at process improvement and traditional BPM approaches, it really focuses and highlights cutting down cycle time, minimizing cycle time. That's really what most of the process improvement approaches came out of: cycle-time improvement, efficiency improvement. When we start looking at reinvention, it's more about optimizing for the experience, looking at the outcomes that the customer wants.

Additionally, traditional improvement focused on control: control every step of the process, control the customer, the employee as they go through the process. When we look at reinvention, we're shifting more towards guidance and providing enough context, enough richness, to guide the customer, the employee, the partner through the process, to the outcome that they want. And then, when we look at traditional process improvement, definitely the focus is on end-to-end process. When we start looking at reinvention, we have to atomize, to deal with processes at the most atomic level, which is tasks. So beginning to optimize at the task level is what reinvention is about.

Reinventing business process management systems and approaches

How do you begin to do this type of reinvention that we've talked about? As we've talked to companies, we've been able to identify some key steps for driving process reinvention. The first step that we see companies focus on consistently is around connecting the touch points between customer journey and business process.

[This involves] taking the customer journey, which is more of an outside-in approach, looking at the specific steps that the customer goes through as they engage with the business--whether it's around a particular process, or around a particular interaction--looking at all of those steps, and then lining each one of those customer journey steps up to the different business processes that the customer journey touches. So Step 1 is: Evaluate key touch points that cross between the customer journey and business processes.

Step 2: What we see customers focused on here is identifying tasks where time and context can dramatically change the outcome…[This involves] looking at opportunities, the best opportunities in processes where, if we bring in rich context and where there's a short window of time [and bringing] mobile into the picture can actually change the outcome dramatically. So that's Step 2.

The last step, which is really the most important step, is evaluating the desired outcomes and then modeling scenarios for customer interaction. What does that mean? Basically, in this step, we're starting to look at what does the customer want to achieve and what are the different outcomes that the customer or the employee want to achieve--and then modeling all the different scenarios to get them to that outcome.

Let's look at this. I have another example. [As in the first segment,] it's another pizza example. I'm not sure how I ended up with all these pizza examples, but this is one of the fun aspects of doing primary research: You get to take different research approaches, different research methods.

At any rate, this company--a pizza franchise based in the U.K., Pizza Express--went through a similar journey to what I laid out in terms of the steps….One of the things they started looking at is their customer journey. [The company wanted to understand] "What are the steps that the customer takes to engage with us? Where is the journey good and where is the journey not so good?" They're really looking for these sort of opportunities for optimization and where mobile might be able to help.

One of the things that they found is: Customers love the restaurant. It's really high-end. If you're in the U.S., it's sort of like a step up from a Bertucci's [Italian restaurant], let's say. Customers come in, they're able to make reservations, arrive at the location, place the order, receive the order, eat the pizza—which gets a thumbs-up; it's really good pizza.

A piece of the business process management system pie

But then the challenge that they noticed when they look at the customer journey is the time that it took from "eat the pizza" to "pay for the pizza" was longer than what customers wanted. When I went for first time, it took a significant time for the server to come back and give me the bill and for me to pay out. So a great experience from "eat pizza" turns into a not-so-great at "pay for pizza." When the customer leaves at the end of the journey, they're not happy—and so we can begin to zero in.

The first step here is looking at the customer journey, trying to identify all the steps in the customer journey, but then beginning to zero in on the opportunity. So that was Step 2, looking for those opportunities where time and context can dramatically change the outcome.

In the "pay for pizza" step, we know if we're able to actually allow the customer to pay in a short period of time, that could dramatically change the outcome. We also know if we're able to provide greater context so the customer can pay, that could change the outcome. So we're able to zero in on Step 2 for "pay for pizza" as a task in this process that we can use mobile to drive improvement.

The next thing we want to do is begin to map the different steps in the journey back to key business processes. Why do we want to do this, and why do we see customers taking this approach, customers that are successful with mobile process reinvention? Why are they connecting back to the business processes from the customer journey? The key here is identifying those friction points, those processes where we need to go down to the atomic level and actually optimize for the mobile device, optimize and reinvent the process and the task for mobile.

So these are really the first two steps: the customer journey and zeroing in on the best opportunities, and then mapping back to the business processes that connect to the customer journey.

The third step is really critical. We see a lot of companies that overlook this step. The focus here is to use scenarios and scenario modeling to eliminate friction points. If we go back and think about my first example [in the first segment], there were a lot of friction points around me placing my order for the pizza on the app…The key here is: Use the scenarios to actually zero in on the friction points and eliminate them. Identify what are the outcomes that the customer wants, what are the scenarios we need to deliver to actually get them to those outcomes.

A self-service business process management system

To give you an example, using Pizza Express again, the outcome that they were looking for was self-service payments for customer. They wanted the outcomes. They wanted customers be able to pay at the table without requiring them to wait for the server to come back allowing the customer to pay at the table with their own mobile devices.

Knowing that that’s the outcome, we begin to go down at the task level and model out scenarios for different steps in the process where we want to improve for mobile. In the [Pizza Express case], the first step in the scenario was the first story portion in the scenario, bringing the bill to the customer but having a unique identifier on the bill that would allow the customer to punch into their mobile device [so that] they're able to begin the bill-payment process. Then the customer can go through verify the bill and add in the tip, then finally get the payment confirmation.

I walked through this process. I went back to Pizza Express just to use my mobile device, my smartphone, so that I could walk through and see how this process worked. It actually worked pretty seamlessly.

When we start looking at reinvention, we have to deal with processes at the most atomic level, which is tasks. Beginning to optimize at the task level is what reinvention is about."

What I could see, though, is they stopped at only one scenario. They modeled out only one scenario, the straight-through scenario, the linear sequence. They didn't necessarily think through what different sequences or other scenarios could arise or "what other scenarios we can come up with that gets us to the same outcome."

In this example, one of the things I realized is after I entered in on the first screen my receipt code and went to the next screen, I realized, "Wait a minute; I need to go back." When I went back, it popped up a message saying "request new receipt code from server." So I had to ask the server, "Can you generate a new code for me so I can finish paying?" The server really worked at it and said, "Well, I'm not sure what this means." That's one of the things you want to think about: Think through all of the different scenarios, not just the "happy-path," if you will, scenario.

When you start doing scenario modeling and you begin to build these stories around the outcomes and optimizing for mobile at the task level, it brings up a lot of questions that get rid of the friction, or at least shine light on potential points of friction. First and foremost, by doing scenarios, you're able to identify what process changes are needed, [answering questions such as] "Where do we need to go in and make changes or connect processes to the data, connect processes to other processes?"

Also, scenario modeling for mobile-process reinvention highlights which sensors can be exploited during the process or task completion. [For instance,] can I take advantage of the GPS? Can I take advantage of the touch screen? Can I take advantage of the camera and really think about the different sensors?

The last question that scenarios allow us to bring up is: Do we have the staff trained to support the mobile process? This is the example that I ran into [at Pizza Express]. Great mobile app, really got me to outcome that I wanted, but I could see that once I ran into a little hiccup, the staff weren't necessarily fully train to support that mobile app. So make sure, as you're modeling out these scenarios, that you engage and educate staff on how to support customers, how to support employees, around the different scenarios.

Mobile business process management systems: Real examples

Now I want to walk through a few examples just to give you a taste of what we're seeing from companies that are actually moving into this space. The first example is British Airways. This is a really fascinating example because most of us travel a lot. I'm on a plane a lot, as I'm sure most of you are. What British Airways did is, they reinvented their crew-engagement process to bring the iPad into how they engage with customers during flights.

Typically, before they reinvented this crew process for mobile, [crews] would board flights with clipboards that indicated different information and details for customers. They can see who might need vegetarian meals, who might need specific special attention, if you will. The project around the crew's iPads that they implemented focused on bringing in real-time information before flights to be able to guide [the flight attendants] around how to engage with different customers. [The goal is] being able to show and provide guidance, real time, on which customers might need special attention, which customers may have had a bad experience on a previous flight and need to be attended to.

So this is a really good example, one of the first examples that we've seen where a customer was able to reinvent business process to provide greater engagement, but first to begin focusing on scenarios and connecting the customer journey.

The next example, Gaylord Resorts, is a really interesting case study. I had a chance to interview their acting CIO and the feedback that he gave me around how they began to reinvent processes focused on driving better customer service. [The focus was] not engaging the customer, providing a mobile app to the customer, but providing a mobile app to staff as they engage with customers.

They gave two really compelling examples of how they reinvented processes for mobile. The first example was around check-ins. When customers come in, typically, they're waiting in long lines to actually check in. And so they reinvented the check-in process to make it mobile, so that the representatives checking in employees could rove around and check in different customers as they were standing in line. What's really interesting is that one of the side effects, or side benefits, was that by simplifying the process, they were able to bring in other [employees who] did not traditionally do check in to begin checking in customers. The example they gave us was the valet, who traditionally is out parking cars—the check-in process became so simple that the valet was able to come in and help out at peak times, which is pretty impressive.

One of the other examples that Gaylord provided around mobile process reinvention focused on equipping cleaning staff with mobile devices to track when rooms were clean, when guest checked out, when guests had "Do Not Disturb" signs on the door. When I first heard this story, I thought, "Okay, that's kind of neat. You can actually track and see what's going on, how the cleaning's progressed."

But when I interviewed the acting CIO for Gaylord, he shared with me that not only could they see the progress, it also helped them in terms of having [improved] visibility for room turnover. So if they have a guest that wanted to check in early or a guest that wanted to stay late, they're able to give those answers much more effectively because they have this real-time information feed that's coming in from the mobile devices, from this mobile cleaning process.

One of the other things that was impressive about Gaylord's story is the metrics they use to track the impact of this mobile process reinvention effect. They've seen a 20% improvement in guest satisfaction scores across the board. They attribute a large part of this to what they've done around reinventing processes for mobile and providing greater engagement for their staff as they serve their customers.

And our final example is Ottawa Hospital, which started from the BPM path. Instead of focusing first on mobile, they really focused first on BPM. They'd acquired [a business process management system] and built up a BPM capability within the hospital, but quickly realized that just BPM alone was not getting them the results they expected. A big part of the reason was because the actual care staff was out engaging with customers, as opposed to being tethered back to a PC. So they needed to go back and enter all the information [in a traditional PC, which was] a hindrance to driving better business process.

So what they shifted to was care process management. Instead of having business process management, which traditionally focuses more on business, they realize they needed to focus more on the care, which raised the flag or had a light bulb go off over one of their leader's heads that said, "In order to deliver care process management and engage with patients better, we need to also bring in the mobile angle." What they were able to do is extend core business processes [and incorporate mobile to] drive a better experience as they're discharging patients. 

The key there was bringing all the information together as the care team was engaging with the patient during the discharge process and being able to provide real-time information, real-time guidance, to the patient and to the different care workers that were engaged with the patient.

In their example, they're just beginning the journey, but they've already seen results where the care teams love their iPads but see the iPad as an essential tool for engaging and interacting with the customer. In fact, one of the processes that they worked on didn't exist until they brought mobile into the picture. So using mobile as a centerpiece, they were able to build the process around this new form of engagement, which was very impressive.

In this segment, we focused on first what are the steps to mobile process reinvention, and then walked through an example of how we're seeing a particular company walk through each one of those steps. Finally, we gave you some real-world case studies that you can use as a framework to begin your journey into mobile process reinvention.

View the next item in this Essential Guide: business process or view the full guide: SOA BPM guide: Mobile, cloud drive BPM, BPEL changes

Other Essential Guides Related to This Topic

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