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With all the hype over digital transformation, I haven't seen much discussion lately on continuous process improvement. So do you think continuous process improvement should still be one of the goals of a digital business?
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Only if you still want to compete. If you, as a business, have decided what you have is good enough, and you just don't feel you need to improve any more so you can continue to compete and win, then you don't need CPI as a goal of your digital business. Of course, you will end up like Toys R Us if you choose this path, but that is a choice you can make :D
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  1. more than a month ago
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Short answer = Absolutely.

The world around digital business is changing quickly, and if you aren't improving constantly, you're falling behind.
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  1. more than a month ago
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As in those old math classes, I'd like to raise it for the absurd. Could a digital business prosper without a strategy of continuous improvement of the processes that support it?

When put this way, the answer seems quite obvious. It does not seem reasonable that continuous improvement of processes should cease to be an objective. In a digital world, it is even more important to constantly evolve the business, and hence the processes that underpin it, to respond to:

  • competition (established or emerging)
  • customer needs (always changing)
  • the emergence of disruptive technologies (with less time in between)
  • regulatory changes that go hand in hand over time.


Best !
CEO at Flokzu Cloud BPM Suite
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 3
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Yes sure! Digital transformation as an objective by itself does not seem to be the best way forward. I see the business digitization as an investment like any other, so it must have a return, and the safest method to guarantee this return is through the improvement of the business processes, otherwise, to digitize without improvements is the same as to automate the inefficiencies, that is, to continue to make the same mistakes only with greater speed and greater out of control. I see the digitizing process as a good opportunity to reorganize the companies and increase the business benefits.
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  1. more than a month ago
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Of course. And I hope al digital transformations were started out of a need for improvement and not from the marketing story of the gadgets seller.

And a 'digital process' can also deliver results that solve no problem. So then some improvement is needed.

Digitalization is a means, not the goal of a process.
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
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  1. more than a month ago
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It can be oxymoronic, looking at DT and continuous improvement, side by side. I am part of the group of people that believes that in order to be capable (or allowed) to think outside the box, one firstly has to gain a firm understanding of the box. Anything "outside the box" must ultimately compare, be based on and relate to the box in the first place. For me, that's an analogy when it comes to transformation. For the most part, it’s the gradual and continued progress that assures business (process) success. Of course, having these improvements continuously in place, it should be normal to look at a process today vs. a process from 3 years ago and find it to be improved to a point it could be considered transformed (most likely in a digital fashion as well :)). However, claiming to be able to reach a DT, just because, without having gone through the progressive...process of gradual improvement cycles, is like people claiming they think outside the box, without knowing the box.
There are outliers, of course - but these should be treated as such and not become idolized strategies, every companies should strife for.
NSI Soluciones - ABPMP PTY
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  1. John Morris
  2. 8 months ago
  3. #5223
+1 @Kay "thinking outside the box presupposes understanding what's inside the box".
  1. more than a month ago
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Yes to a certain degree.........DNA of the new world is speed of change thus process improvement approaches inherently must be managed within that. The runway to change, process improve and adapt has shortened thus process improvement frameworks of old have to really look harder at the time dimension within the business value discussion. Is there time to spend on improvement relative to cost of new process or obsolescence? Diseconomies of scale has a whole other cast of valuation today relative to yesterday. Core processes that will never go away can go thru a number of improvement cycles and in the digital world continuous improvement will yield value but more and more processes are less likely to have the runway for continuous improvement before obsolescence, thus not yield value!
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  1. John Morris
  2. 8 months ago
  3. #5220
+1 @Stuart "diseconomies of scale".
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 7
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Goal? It is a pre-requisite! If an organisation wants to run its business digitally, it must be able to carry out continuously improvements of its processes. In the digital era, there will be more changes, more often, in shorter time windows.

Thanks,
AS
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 8
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Of course as digital in business becomes more and more the driver route for operational interface with users and importantly customers where constant change is inevitable to remain efficient and competitive. The real issue is the need to recognise this requires seamless support from back office which can orchestrate all the required information/data. This needs a new approach to building such supporting applications which can link to the mess of legacy. As discussed in this forum a Digital Business Platform is required and no/low code will certainly help. Indeed get that right and the cost of the software delivery becomes very low which frees up resources to seek out the optimal required process. With direct involvement of the business users in build encourages them to look for better ways over time which can with confidence be readily implemented.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 9
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I see "continuous" as implicit in "process".
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
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or "continual" ?
  1. John Morris
  2. 8 months ago
  3. #5224
+1 "continuous" versus "continual". I like language, in this case I'm not sure of the distinction. :)
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 10
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Interesting observation that use of the term "continuous improvement" appears to have declined. As BPM.com team replies above have noted, this doesn't mean though that continuous improvement is not as important as ever.

Let's see if corporate interest in continuous improvement is in fact declining. Here's a little test based on a sample size of "1". Let's look at one large industrial organization and use the annual report as a proxy for "interest in 'continuous improvement'". We pick Schneider Electric SA. (Data available here: https://www.schneider-electric.com/en/about-us/investor-relations/regulatory-information/annual-reports.jsp)

Here is a count of the number of mentions of "continuous improvement" in Scheider's annual reports back to 2006:

SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC SA
ANNUAL REPORTS
OCCURRENCES OF PHRASE "continuous improvement"

2016 - 12
2015 - 11
2014 - 9
2013 - 11
2012 - 10
2011 - 5
2010 - 5
2009 - 4
2008 - 8
2007 - 4
2006 - 3

Fascinating! The frequency seems to be increasing! Which at least doesn't contradict the steady-state Google Trends information (which also shows neither increase or decline back to 2004). OK this is a 'very' small sample size, for sure. (A larger sample, and including different proxy types, would reveal where on the "discourse signalling" hype curve the term 'continuous improvement' is.)

Geoffrey Moore's "Four Zones" approach here is relevant.

Because "continuous improvement" falls under the category of "sustaining innovation", as opposed to "business transformation", which is described as "disruptive innovation". Here's my previous highlight of this material:

Geoffrey ( "Mr. Crossing The Chasm" ) Moore's new book (available very affordably as an eBook, and with lots of chapters published on LinkedIn), Zone To Win, is terrific on the strategic context within which operational processes exist. Mr. Moore is very focused on time horizons; business processes and business process automation and the construction of business process automation artefacts are always time-defined and time-sensitive.

And Mr. Moore had a recent excellent LinkedIn post on this too. (His May 2017 article Digital Systems Maturity Model is a nice short read. Moore's "systems journey" can be thought of as an evolution of automation from supporting standard processes to supporting custom processes.

Continuous improvement has been around really since Henry Ford and later Deming and Toyota. If we can get beyond hype and signalling, and beyond "the confusion of the generic" (continuous improvement is good for you -- let's do it!), there's lots of opportunity to make continuous improvement even more systematic. Continuous improvement is the basis for success in sustaining innovation. Which means you survive and can afford to invest in business transformation.

Don't forget: Business process management technology is THE enabler, along with rules technology, of continuous improvement!
Comment
Continual/continuous improvement is dead. Viva systematic improvement!
  1. John Morris
  2. 8 months ago
  3. #5226
+1 @Samarin: Is this a little like "the King is dead, long live the King!"?

I agree systematic is better; can one not be systematic continuously though?

Regardless of personal views, you are saying that the new term rules in management discourse now. Which could explain @PSchooff's original observation?
"can one not be systematic continuously though?" yes if there are not formal and explicit explanations why improvements have been taken.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 11
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Continuous process improvement is regularly mentioned among top priorities crucial for success in modern business. Exactly this demand for consistent and directed evolution explains increasing focus of organizations on BPM technologies.

Continuous improvement is impossible without detailed analysis and elaborate business model in place. Only valid model, which covers all aspects of business, can serve as a ground for informative vision of existing situation and reveals potential for further improvements.

BPM creates a structure, which unites disperse corporate reporting into aligned knowledge enabling for qualified business decisions. Continuous progress is only achievable on a ground of accumulated knowledge and previous experience. BPM provides methodology and technology to accumulate this experience and further use for advantage of the business.

https://caseagile.com/wp-content/uploads/constant-development.jpg
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