Visualising Process Management & Summary
Part 2 contains some of the theoretic visualisations companies can use to understand the extent of their process automation and use to plan and benchmark against for the future.
Understanding the relationship between Power and Flexibility in Systems
As processes become more automated the ‘power’ and technical speed of the process increases. In doing so the flexibility to the end in how they approach a problem or task becomes less. This may be useful from the point of view of consistency, however in situations where scenarios occur that have not been encountered before this can be problematic. If the system is completely automated and cannot handle a new form of input, there may be significant work to develop a new hard and fast process to solve the problem going forward. Automated system are excellent for managing 95% of core processes, but often there is a good business case for being able to pull together ad hoc requests (the other 5%).
Tiered Bullseye Model
There are a few ways we can categorise business functions in relation to how they are designed, developed and carried out by the business:
- Hard and Fast Core Business Functions: Never likely to change, critical calculation for transmission of data. Usually overshadowed by Legal and Regulatory reporting requirements and as such the consequences of incorrect submission are significant. I.e. Controls for data input and balance sheet balancing.
- Variable Calculations: These are essential calculations that need to be factored in across the business, but requires variables that can be maintained and updated at regular intervals, without compromising the core calculation. In SAP BPC for example, properties of a dimension can be maintained and referenced in logic script calculations for things like intercompany matching. The Ownership model also allows for newly acquired companies to be quickly added to the consolidation process, without a total rethink of the financial consolidation process.
- Flexible Sandbox: 95% of the time the reporting stack that has been developed with financial systems will include the required data to satisfy day to day requests from the business. The other 5% of the time a request may be specific and not designed into the deck. In these situations it can be useful for dedicated super users to have access to development tools where they can quickly build an ad hoc request and get the required data view in minutes and hours, rather than days and weeks. BPC allows for this sort of development through the EPM-Add In reporting tool and features such as Member Recognition that allows users to type dimension members directly into excel cells and generate a reporting grid within seconds.
These three components can be visualised in a bullseye diagram. The correct balance of these three elements is dependent on the individual businesses individual reporting requirements and how much they value hard and fast processing over agile, flexibility. Generally the larger the operation and the more complex the entity structure, the greater the reliance on standardised, hard coded business functions.
Offset the risk of long-term overheads caused by growth by investing smartly and early in key reporting systems.
Regulatory bodies are continuing to enforce the impact of best practise data management and protection. The growth of the amount of data businesses consume and manage is only going to increase and investment in data infrastructure is unlikely to decline.
Create an environment that can support not only the business you currently run, but the one you want it to evolve into over the next 5, 10 15+ years.
Define your mission critical processes and protect them accordingly.