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5 Outstanding Benefits of Supply Chain Business Process Management

FSEU BPM image

The main issue with traditional business management models is in the struggle to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the modern business world, with many factors putting pressure on traditional business models:

  • Increased competition and tighter regulations is requiring management to be more flexible and adaptable to change to keep up.
  • The reduction in delineation between departments bringing about a need for a more holistic and teamwork focussed workforce.
  • A rigid and inflexible approach to management makes it more difficult to retain and promote your best employees, as they seek out more modern working environments.
  • The management of customer interactions must now take centre stage. Customers have more power than ever before thanks to the digitalization of the business world, and freedom of choice. Customer interactions no longer begin and end with the sale.

Business process management (BPM) aims to turn the traditional hierarchical structure of management on its head by adopting a more holistic attitude which puts the wants and needs of the customer at the forefront of everything it does. Managed correctly, it will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the way supply chain business flows, whilst at the same time being measurable and flexible enough to allow for innovation and agility at all levels of process.

With BPM implementation being rated as important by the majority of supply chain industry professionals for the past several years, it has become increasingly necessary for its progress to be closely monitored. As a result, research has identified several outstanding benefits of BPM implementation.

Reduced costs

The automated and streamlined nature of sustainable BPM naturally lends itself to cost saving. Properly implemented BPM allows, quite simply, more to be done with less.

Whereas before there may have existed roles responsible for manually monitoring processes, and passing any decisions through a hierarchy of authorised persons, BPM allows for an automation of the decision-making process. This makes it possible for decisions to be made quickly and consistently within a predetermined set of parameters.

With process related decision-making being automated and centralised, work takes less time to complete, and products are developed and brought to the supply chain more quickly – leading to a pronounced effect on the bottom line.

Fewer errors

There exists a childhood game – known as “Chinese Whispers” – where children would stand in a circle. One player whispers a sentence to the person next to them, who in turn whispers it to the person next to them, and so on, until the last player in the chain whispers it back to the first. Almost invariably the sentence at the end will be quite different to the one at the beginning – and the more people in the chain, the greater the distortion.

Business processes work in pretty much the same way.

Sustainable BPM aims to reduce business processes down to the minimum number of processes, with the minimum number of steps necessary for each. There will always be some processes – often industry-specific ones – that are resistant to standardisation, however in striving to streamline as many as possible, the number of links in the chain is reduced, and therefore the chance of costly mistakes being made is minimised.

The other reason why a game of Chinese Whispers turns out the way it does is due to each person only communicating to the person next to them. BPM allows for open and clear communication between departments, reducing this effect significantly.

Increased customer satisfaction

A natural effect of the points discussed already will be an increase in customer satisfaction.

With the rapid and consistent decision making which BPM makes possible, customers are likely to be impressed with the speed at which products and services are delivered at all stages of the supply chain. In today’s fast moving digital world – whether in B2B or B2C businesses – people have gotten used to speedy service and have little patience for delays.

With the streamlining of processes leading to a significant reduction in errors, customer complaints will also be reduced – freeing up customer service staff for more positive tasks.

This means, supply chains who can deliver the fastest, most consistent service, are likely to lure customers away from their less efficient rivals.

Clear roles and responsibilities

The reduction in the number of processes, and steps within those processes, is employees at all levels of an organisation being clear on what is expected of them. If there is (where possible) a single process which handles a multitude of different tasks, it reduces the chance of any blurring or confusion between roles or responsibilities.

Accountability also becomes clearer – with employees clear on their roles and responsibilities, mistakes can easily be tracked to their source, allowing for the quick diagnosis and rectification of any weak spots in the process.

Increased employee satisfaction

Not only will customers be more satisfied with your service, and less likely to complain – there will also be an increase in the satisfaction levels of staff.

With streamlined processes, easy to understand and clearly defined roles and responsibilities, the removal of barriers to communication, top level management support, clear accountability, whilst also possessing the agility and flexibility to respond to new challenges and situations that don’t fit the mould, BPM will reduce the stress levels of employees at all levels. People can come to work, knowing exactly what is expected of them, safe in the knowledge that, if problems arise they won’t need to wait for requests to pass through a hierarchy before they can act on them.

With the supply chain running smoothly, satisfied customers, and multi-level cooperation, a business will become a far more enjoyable environment for its staff. And happy staff work harder.

In conclusion

BPM will almost certainly become more and more prevalent in supply chain industries as time progresses, with many inherent benefits for business. Early adopters of BPM are likely to gain an advantage over latecomers, as customers are likely to be drawn to them as opposed to their non-BPM enabled competitors. Therefore, the sooner BPM is adopted, the better it will be for all levels of supply chain business.

Based on findings from ‘Establish Sustainable Business Processes to Set-up Best-in-class Supply Chain Processes– a WBR white paper.

BPM is set to be a hot topic for debate at this year’s Field Service Europe 2018. Be sure to download the Field Service Europe 2018 Agenda for more top insights and challenges facing the industry today.