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Covid-19 as a reality check for process management

Lockdown Quick Poll results

Top 3 process issues during lockdown not different from everyday process issues

Employee belief in stark contrast with business reality

Clearly defined roles, responsibilities; well-defined and documented processes impact company performance

The author of this articleMyrthe Fastré - Project Consultant - CFO Services
For some time now, CFO Services has been researching business process management (BPM) within Belgian organizations. Business processes should not only be managed to make your operations run smoothly, they are also paramount to successful transformations and can even increase employee satisfaction. During the first Covid-19 lockdown, we did a quick poll to measure a possible change in people's perception of their organization's BPM maturity.

Measuring BPM maturity

From a large survey TriFinance conducted, we learned that Belgian employees tend to score their organization’s overall process management maturity at 3.5 to 4 out of 5. As participants had been asked to score BPM maturity (instead of a score being deducted from their answers), their result was measured against the core elements of process management maturity that the TriFinance BPM maturity model is based on, such as its alignment with overall organizational strategy, the presence of governance, the role of culture and people, and the methods and systems that an organization deploys in managing its processes. 

All those components were measured throughout the big survey, taken by 1000+ respondents working for private and public organizations. The comparison between the score given by participants and the measured maturity showed a clear gap, with participants systematically scoring their organization’s process management maturity higher than our model allowed for. 

Lockdown impact

Last year, during the first Belgian Covid-19 lockdown, we conducted a follow-up quick poll to measure a possible change in perception under Covid-19 lockdown circumstances. 

For the larger part of 2020, working from home was made mandatory by the Belgian government for all businesses and services where working in home office was possible. Permanently working remotely, not having physical meetings, or a quick chat with your colleagues at the coffee machine have had a major impact on the working conditions of most employees. 

We also learned from customers that business processes such as supply chain or sales, faced unprecedented challenges, one more reason to expect a shift in people’s perception of BPM maturity. 

The poll results lead us to draw some interesting conclusions. Here are three takeaways.

'Root causes of a process not running well are missing R&R, procedures & guidelines. Process management needs to be monitored and upgraded, as this will clearly remedy these issues, eventually bringing the organization to a higher maturity level.’
Kyra Boudrez, CFO Services project manager

Takeaway #1: most companies did not experience any significant problems running their internal processes

7 out of 10 respondents who took the quick poll said the Covid-19 lockdown did not result in their organization’s internal processes running less smoothly than before. Amongst the 3 out of 10 that did notice some issues in their internal processes during the lockdown, the most common ones were the lack of properly defined roles and responsibilities and processes that were insufficiently documented. Other problems mentioned were the lack of clearly defined processes and the absence of procedures and guidelines.

Experience has taught us that process management maturity is usually still in an early stage in your average Belgian company,’ process expert Kyra Boudrez says, ‘It’s quite surprising that 7 out of 10 respondents did not experience any problems with running their internal processes during the lockdown. One would expect that missing roles & responsibilities, documentation (as is the case in the early stages of process management maturity) would definitely cause problems when working remotely.

These problems are not new or specific to the Covid-19 situation, as they were already identified in the large survey TriFinance conducted. The lockdown period, however, might have made these problems more visible. With improperly defined roles and responsibilities and insufficiently documented processes, working remotely tends to be more difficult as employees are not fully aware of what is expected from them or whom they need to reach out to in case a certain question or issue arises.

Takeaway #2: 7 out of 10 respondents give the same or a lower score to their organization's BPM maturity after the first lockdown

The average BPM maturity score for the quick poll is 3 out of 5, which is lower than the survey we conducted in 2019. 7 out of 10 respondents scored the process management maturity of their organization at the same level or lower than before the Covid-19 lockdown. Knowing that the BPM maturity score is generally overestimated (74 percent of the respondents in our general survey scored their process management maturity level at 3 out of 5 or higher), follow-up results were what we were actually expecting: Covid-19 as a reality check for BPM maturity.

People’s perceptions and gut feelings have created a false image of BPM maturity in Belgian organizations. Survey results tell a different story: 

  • 47 percent of survey respondents indicated that a process was an unknown concept for them;
  • 46 percent of respondents indicated that process roles & responsibilities within their organization are not (17 percent) or only moderately (29 percent) clearly defined
  • More than 50 percent of the respondents indicated that procedures and work instruction are unclear or outdated.
  • 58 percent of the respondents indicated that processes have not been standardized and differ depending on who is executing them

 

While employees may have heard about (business) process management,’ Kyra Boudrez says, ‘they often do not know what it entails, making their perception not always consistent with the actual process management maturity level in the organization.’

 

Existing BPM issues continued to exist during the first Covid 19 lockdown
Kyra Boudrez, CFO Services project manager

Takeaway #3: over half of the respondents do not think that their organization would have performed better during the lockdown if the process management maturity had been higher

No less than 6 out of 10 poll respondents indicated that having a higher level of process management maturity would not have resulted in a better performance during the lockdown period. For them, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, identified and explicitly documented processes, procedures and guidelines would not have had an effect on their organization’s performance during the Covid-19 period.

That result clearly goes against the grain of what we experience in the field,’ Kyra Boudrez says. When organizations call us in for help, root causes of a process not running well are missing R&R, procedures & guidelines. Process management needs to be monitored and upgraded, as this will clearly remedy these issues, eventually bringing the organization to a higher maturity level.

Overall, our lockdown quick poll illustrates that employees’ perception of their organization’s process management maturity did not change radically because of the Covid-19 lockdown. We do notice that existing issues continued to exist throughout the lockdown period.

 

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The author of this articleMyrthe Fastré - Project Consultant - CFO Services

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