A guide to business process transformation readiness

Business process transformation is a vital but challenging process for businesses who want to stay competitive. How challenging? Research has shown that 70% of business transformations fail. Understanding your readiness to launch business process transformation in the first place is a great way to get on the right side of that statistic.

As we outlined in our guide to business process transformation, there are two stages to assessing your readiness for business process transformation:

1. Exploration

The exploration phase lays the initial groundwork for a potential transformation process. This includes seeking alignment between an overall business goal and positive customer outcome. And assessing whether the business has the resources  expertise, and skills needed for a transformation initiative.

A crucial outcome of the exploration phase is to establish whether the transformation would be best executed internally or with an outsourcing partner.

2. Planning

The planning phase is more active than the exploration phase and involves preparing the business for the transformation itself. In this stage, a business drills down into the initial findings from the exploration phase, and turns them into tangible and actionable goals. Crucial outcomes of this phase will be to get internal buy-in for the transformation and a detailed plan for how the transformation will be achieved.

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How to get ready for business process transformation

Before businesses commit resources to a planning process, they need to explore how business process transformation can help them. They also need to establish whether the transformation should be mounted internally or with an outsourcer.

To get started ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What’s our goal?
    Understanding why you’re mounting this transformation, will inform the way you approach it and the expertise and resources you’ll need to make it happen. This work will also lay the foundations for the actual transformation process.
  2. How does this benefit our customers?
    Understanding how achieving your goal will benefit your customers is vital.
  3. Where do we need to change?
    An initial assessment of what is good and bad about what you do will help you surface the challenge ahead. For example, if your initial assessment reveals that data visibility is a major obstacle for your business, the challenge may be finding the right CRM.
  4. Should or can we perform this transformation ourselves?
    With the transformation area and the rough size of the task established, it’s time to assess whether an in-house transformation would be best or if you should use an outsourcing partner. This will be based on a number of factors. Firstly, whether you have the expertise/capabilities needed to perform the transformation. And secondly, which of the options would provide you with the most robust, agile, and cost-effective solution.

Want to delve deeper into strategy?

Check out our page on creating a business process transformation playbook

For a closer look at the process of working with an outsourcing partner

Be sure to check out our page on outsourcing business process transformation.

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Business Process Transformation Steps

The first thing to understand is that every business process transformation initiative is different and will have unique twists and turns.

However, there are stages that underpin any business process transformation:

Specific goal-setting
Entrenching customer-first mindset
Interrogating current processes
Getting buy-in
Drawing up a detailed plan
Establishing KPIs and metrics

This is where you build on the work from your exploration phase and get specific about what you want to achieve.

Many business process transformations are triggered in response to increased competition or regulatory changes. But to simply “be more competitive” is not a tangible goal. 

A more specific goal might be: to reduce friction in your selling process, to reduce the time it takes to onboard employees, to reduce customer effort scores, to connect your online and offline customer journeys, to reduce cost of customer acquisition, or to improve customer retention.

For transformation to be meaningful, it needs to be tied to a tangible customer benefit. During your initial exploration, you should have added this customer-first lens to your planning. Now’s the time to entrench that approach and make sure it’s at the core of your transformation process.

For example, if your goal is to reduce cost of customer acquisition, it’s crucial that you interrogate how this will help your customers. This will shape how you approach your transformation.

Customer-first mindset in action

Say a healthcare insurance provider wanted to reduce customer acquisition costs. The business could tackle this a couple of ways:

  • Work with an outsourcing partner to replace in-house agents with a cheaper alternative based purely on price.
  • Work with an outsourcing partner who offered a more bespoke approach and transformed the quoting process using automation. Customers would be able to complete an online survey and have an insurance quote sent to their inbox. The in-house agents could then be deployed for targeted cross-selling and additional customer support.

Both options reduce cost to acquire a customer. But in option two, the business and the customer benefit. Customers no longer have to wait on hold for a live agent and have access to additional customer support, and the business reduces the cost of the quotation process, and gets better cross-sell provision.

Once you’ve established your goal and understand how achieving it is tied to customer benefit, you need to deep dive into your current processes. Interrogate what is good about your current process, which areas of your business contribute the most to customer satisfaction, and which are causing you the most margin leakage.

This stage is vital as it allows you to identify which processes would be most valuable to update and transform (from both a business and customer perspective). And which tasks, systems, and processes have become redundant.

Whether you’re working with an outsourcing partner or tackling your transformation internally, it’s going to take time and resources. It’s also going to cause disruption. So if you want your transformation process to be successful, you need to get buy-in from internal stakeholders.

Business process transformation initiatives run into trouble when they are not supported from the top, so buy-in must include C-suite folks who can influence budgetary decisions. The conversations you have in this stage will also determine the amount of resources that will be made available for the transformation process. And the all-important timelines you will need to work to.

Once you have gained the support for business process transformation, you need a rigorous plan for how it will be delivered. Either internally, or with your outsourcing partner, draw out all the phases you anticipate your transformation process will take. Include timelines, budgets, goals for each phase, and who is responsible for what. If this transformation will be broken down in a series of smaller initiatives,  order them by priority.

Your plan should include:

  • A crystal clear (and realistic) timeline
  • A detailed budget
  • Clearly defined milestones and goals
  • A smart division of labor (who is responsible and for what)

How are you going to measure the success of the transformation? This goes further than simply grading the end result of your transformation against the goals you laid out.You need a system of proactive measurement to ensure you are hitting key milestones throughout the process so you can course correct as necessary.

This is especially important if you’re working with an outsourcing partner. You need a clear vision of what good looks like, transparency on how it will be measured, and carefully outlined processes for what happens if targets get missed. This is where working with an outsourcing partner that offers you a dedicated Solutions Manager can make all the difference.

In terms of which metrics you should measure, it will depend on the goals of your transformation process. For example, if you are looking to reduce friction in your sales process, customer effort scores, and employee satisfaction scores will prove fundamental. In addition to the vital goal-focused metrics, there are some fundamentals you should be using regardless, such as a cost-benefit analysis and Customer Satisfaction scores.

Want a closer look at the KPIs and metrics you can use?

Check out our page on data-led process transformation KPIs.

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Integrating transformation with outsourcing

Businesses used to work with outsourcing partners purely as a way to reduce the cost of business process transformation. Consequently, outsourcers were picked based on price. But in recent years, a new type of outsourcer engagement has been emerging. One in which businesses seek outsourcing partners that can enhance their business process transformation, rather than simply making it cheaper. This means outsourcers are increasingly picked based on their expertise, competencies, industry insight, and technical skills.

Outsourcing partners can help with business process transformation in a number of ways:

  • De-risking your business process transformation
  • Developing bespoke industry solutions
  • Deploying artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and analytics across processes
  • Increasing your ability to scale

Below, we dig into these areas in more detail:

    Transformation risks

    Many organizations are new business process transformation, and particularly digital business process transformation. Working with an outsourcing partner with a track record of delivering transformation initiatives allows you to de-risk the journey. This is especially important for sectors such as healthcare and financial services, where security and compliance are non-negotiable even during times of change.

    And the best outsourcing partners take risk mitigation a step further. They understand that regulatory rigor is more than a box-ticking exercise, it’s a part of continuous service delivery that never ends. The result? Robust compliance that can adapt to industry changes quickly and with minimal disruption. This is vital for safeguarding your CX as you transform.

     

    Increased efficiency

    Businesses undergoing process transformation can benefit from an outsourcing partner’s expertise when it comes to digitization and digitalization. Understanding the most high-value areas for the deployment of technology (such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Analytics) has a two-fold impact on efficiency. First, the deep insight of having completed similar transformations, streamlines the transformation process itself. Second, smart deployment of such technologies to the most high-value areas has an impact on overall business efficiency. 

    Working with an outsourcing partner also increases overall business efficiency at a deeper level. By reducing the impact the transformation process has on the business, the business has more time to focus on other core business activities. 88% of organizations cited standardization and efficiency of processes as a key benefit of outsourcing, according to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Shared Services and Outsourcing Survey Report.

    Increased ability to scale

    Scaling your business well is notoriously difficult. By working with an outsourcing partner with experience working in transformation, your business can reduce the risk of overspend, or business disruption as you scale. It can also allow businesses to scale down much more efficiently—a vital concern for businesses that experience seasonal shifts in sales.

    Once again, the best outsourcing partners will take this a level deeper by ensuring your growth doesn’t come at the cost of individual customer experiences.

    The importance of outsourcing partner relationships

    As the nature of outsourcing partner engagement has changed, so has the importance of maintaining a good relationship. This new model of relationship-based outsourcing is how businesses can ensure outsourcers are able to understand the specific complexities of their transformation—and therefore access the benefits.

    When you choose an outsourcing partner, it can be hugely beneficial to find one with specific knowledge of your industry. This will help ensure that your transformation is created with consideration of the competitive landscape and emerging customer trends.

    Want to dive deeper?

    Check out our page on outsourcing and business process transformation.

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    CX and business process transformation

    In both the exploration and planning phases of business process transformation, working with a customer-first mindset is key. For business transformation to be meaningful, it must have a tangible benefit to the customer.

    This is vital not only for the outcome of the transformation but also for the transformation process itself. Every facet of your process transformation, from planning, implementation, QA, and adoption, needs to be approached with deep consideration of its affect on customer experience.

    How important is CX? 89% of businesses compete primarily on the basis of customer experience (CX), and 73% of consumers say that CX is a deciding factor when making purchase decisions, according to research by SmartKarrot.

    When working with an outsourcing partner, guarding your CX is especially important. The best indicator that an outsourcer understands that they’re entrusted with your brand reputation is when they share this customer-first mindset. At a time when customers say that experiences are as important as products or services, this is key to turning individual transformation initiatives into long-term brand loyalty.

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    Use study

    Businesses work with outsourcing partners to launch business processes transformation in a variety of areas across back-office and front-office functions. These are typically in the following areas: payroll and accounting, administration, customer support, IT management and services, manufacturing, marketing, research, sales, shipping and logistics.

    More recently though, the application of outsourcing for business process transformation has become much more involved.

    For example, as an outsourcing partner, Ubiquity worked with a food-ordering service who wanted to reduce Cost to Revenue from $1.50 down to $1 or less. But with customer experience now an integral part of retail, it was vital that the CX was at the core of the transformation. Working closely together, it quickly became clear that the root cause was a breakdown in communication—both when agents entered the conversation and how they reacted once they were faced with an often irritable customer.

    Critical information was also often missing—their AI could struggle in certain scenarios (loud background noise, implementing customer changes mid-order) with service agents going into these highly charged calls short handed.

    We now support the company’s AI platform by serving as a backup that helps the platform “learn” and improve from every interaction. If the automated system can’t complete an order, our agents take over the call and resolve the order through a PCI-compliant solution for payment processing. Conversion rates have soared—calls that need assistance (and are in danger of frustrating and potentially losing the customer) are automatically routed to the agents from the IVR, creating a seamless chain of communication.

    As a result, our client’s partners now enjoy greater ROI from the AI platform, as the usage cost is less than the revenue they make on orders and the efficiency it drives in the store.

    And with fewer calls to answer, store personnel can focus on food prep or handling in-person customers.

    Senior Operations Manager, Bacolod

    “Our goal was to reduce Cost to Revenue from $1.50 down to $1 or less. We’re now averaging 75 cents. By combining the right people with automation, we’re bringing out the best of both to reduce client costs while delivering a better experience to hungry customers.”