How to work out the best fix for a broken process is part of the Free eBook:
The Definitive Guide to Process Innovation
Turn an ambitious vision into a revolutionary business enhancement
In an era when newly-empowered customers rule supreme, process professionals find themselves struggling against a tide of new challenges.
Shaving a few seconds off back-office processes now pales into insignificance compared to the urgent need to give customers what they want. Not next year – right now.
But the old ways of thinking about processes, looking at the business and working from the inside out, can’t help here. What’s needed is a different approach that starts with what customers want and works from the outside back into the business and the underlying processes.
The trouble is, even for the process professionals who have adopted this new approach, it can still be a long road from a brilliant, customer-led idea to a viable, enterprise ready solution. Our experience, however, shows it is possible. We have seen first-hand how process professionals can use Low-code platforms to turn ambitious visions into revolutionary business enhancements much faster than they ever thought possible.
Process professionals now hold the power
Low-code development platforms offer a fast, cost- effective way to close the Process Execution Gap. They’re quick to learn, enabling many more people, even those without any background in software development, to build elegant, robust and scalable systems, without any coding at all.
In Low-code platforms, all the heavy lifting of the underlying coding has been taken care of, so users can simply configure custom business apps using standard widgets. It means almost anyone can produce a working system in days instead of months, then test and iterate, making all changes with no coding.
Process professionals can build and deliver apps themselves, with significantly less need for specialist IT involvement. And IT can fast-track process improvements and innovations without custom programming, delivering solutions in a fraction of the time traditionally required.
Forrester has identified five characteristics that set Low-code apart from traditional BPM technology:
1: Visual, drag-and-drop configuration
Dragging and dropping pre-coded widgets makes it easy for non-coders to quickly configure apps mapped to new or improved processes. It’s also much easier and faster to make changes after testing, bypassing the IT queue.
2: A “fast ramp” to productivity
Low-code accelerates the test-and-learn cycle by minimizing the time spent on training so you can quickly produce an MVP and focus on iterating customer-facing apps and processes faster.
3: Low barriers to entry
Most Low-code platforms are cloud-based, lowering the barriers of costs and onsite infrastructure demands, and accelerating deployment.
4: More accessible to more employees
With reduced dependency on technical skills, Low-code makes app development accessible to more people in the organization. It means process owners can take control of building and delivering the solution and IT leaders can use more highly-skilled resources where they’re need most.
5: Short term, but scalable
Low-code provides the ability to quickly spin up a temporary solution or MVP, but still has the robustness and scalability to support a long-term solution.
Low-code enables process professional to use Design Thinking and Lean Startup methodologies to get to a real, market-ready solution. With a Low-code platform, you can:
- Jump the IT queue: Respond rapidly to business disruption and get a cloud-based solution into the hands of customers quickly
- Easily build and deliver process fixes and innovations: The people who know what needs fixing can fix it themselves instead of waiting for scarce IT resources
- Collaborate with customers and users: Visual configuration, rather than programming, makes it easy for non-technical stakeholders to participate in the design
- Deploy fast: Launch an MVP in the cloud instantly to get feedback from real users and pilot customers
- Get high-quality feedback: Fire the imaginations of users and customers by deploying something they can actually experience, so you get a true understanding of what, how and why changes need to be made in the next iteration
- Minimize upfront investment: No need for infrastructure investments – cloud-based platforms let you get up and running fast with pay-as-you-go pricing
- Scale rapidly: Use a cloud-based Low-code platform to expand from a low-cost, low-risk pilot to a full enterprise deployment almost instantly
Selecting the right low-code platform for your business
In its survey of the vendor landscape for Low-code application platforms, Forrester identifies five categories of platform. However, as a process professional, you’ll most likely be looking for a Low-code platform for Process Apps, because it will do all the heavy lifting for process flow, logic and case management.
When comparing platforms, it’s important to look for the one that will meet your needs now and continue to meet them in the future. Your customer-facing processes and apps may need to scale to hundreds of thousands of users, so it’s essential to have a platform that can support this level of growth.
You’ll also need to look for a platform with a commercial model that will deliver a return on investment. Consider case-based pricing, reward-share and the eventual cost of moving from a few short term licenses for a small scale pilot to an enterprise-wide license.
Low-code for Bimodal IT
While speed and flexibility are vital elements of a modern IT strategy, organizations still need to keep one eye on the stability of the core systems that support mission-critical operations.
In Gartner’s concept of Bimodal IT, traditional sequential IT practices are used to focus on stability in Mode 1 while new, non-linear methods are used in Mode 2, focused on agility.
Low-code has important applications in Mode 2 projects, where it’s ideally suited to fast iterations and Agile development needed to respond quickly and effectively to constant business disruption and changing customer demands.
Low-code in action
Handling customer complaints.
Travel operator Thomas Cook Group used Low-code to fix a broken process, where resort reps lacked the tools and processes to resolve customer complaints in resort.
Using Low-code, the company’s Lean team quickly developed a streamlined workflow for complaints management and tested two hypotheses: 1) that time-to-resolution would decrease, and 2) that costs would go down in step with the time saved.
After a fast 90-day test-and-learn pilot, Thomas Cook proved these hypotheses. The solution now supports 800 reps across 90+ resorts to quickly resolve customer complaints – massively improving customer experience while eliminating ineffective, labor-intensive processes.
Customer order processing
With a massive growth in demand for ISAs, Nationwide Building Society needed to transform its application processing workflow.
With Low-code, Nationwide was able to build a system capable of handling any volume of ISA accounts, delivering real-time Management Information and proactive, automated customer communications.
The Low-code solution is so scalable and efficient that, at its peak, it’s processed more than 100,000 ISA applications a week, delivering a 24% efficiency saving
Payment provider Universal Payment Gateway (UPG) found that its paper-based customer onboarding processes were slowing down its ability to set up merchant accounts for retailers.
UPG’s business improvement team used a Low-code platform to digitize and simplify the onboarding process. As a result, UPG has been able to double the number of applications processed by its brokerage team, with no increase in headcount.
The process innovation options
So what can you do to get process innovations off the ground?
You could wait for internal developer time to become available. But without being able to test and prove the business value of the proposed solution, your project may not gain budgetary approval. After all, 86% of CIOs complain of insufficient people and skills for digital transformation.
If IT services are outsourced, you could hand development over to your service provider. But change requests or contract negotiations are likely to add considerable delay, and inhibit experimentation.
You could rely on investments in traditional BPM suites to build your new solution. But complex BPM technology is expensive and it requires specialist developers who are in short supply.
What you don’t want is to have process owners spin up an array of SaaS tools to achieve a quick fix, which is what often happens when frustrated business people try to find workarounds. There’s too much risk, too many integration headaches, and costs soon start to get out of control.
Just imagine if you didn’t have to wait for IT resources to fix a broken process or to be assigned to your process innovation project. If only there was a platform that could beat the IT queues and help you build the solution yourself…