Process Architecture is at the Core of Business Transformation

Sheila Shaffie Blog

Would you ever build a house that would make a substantial dent into your savings without a blueprint?  Of course not.  That is like saying you want to pursue a multi-year digital transformation initiative without having the process architecture blueprint developed.   I am not talking about system architecture or IT infrastructure – those are equivalent to electricians and plumbers in my comparison to building construction (no offense to anyone).  They are supposed to make the data flow in a secure and consistent manner.  Process architecture on the other hand is about having laid out the grand plan of how all the various pieces will need to come together in order to transform.  Like an architectural blueprint of a house, it gives all the details, removing ambiguity and surprises due to assumptions.

Process architects develop the map and list out the requirements in order to deliver a new experience.   They provide the master playbook for all the key constituents in order to ensure alignment both amongst themselves and to the larger strategy.  Here is what we as process architects do:

  1. Listen to the voice of the customer & translate– before designing, any good architect first listens to the customers to better understand what they want, or need. This entails talking to both the internal customers (sales/ops/tech) as well as external ones.  Their voice will need to be translated into design requirements.   Going back to the construction example a client’s description of their needs by using a phrase like “I want a bright home”, will need to be translated by the architect as a home that should be south facing, incorporate large windows or use specific types of lighting.  Looking at digital transformation, a client’s description of “easier to do business with” may mean – dynamic based questionnaire as applications, eSignature, online submissions, and self-service.  That is what architects are supposed to figure out.  How does a customer need translate to a process design element?
  2. Take walls down – Architects look at the process and transformation from the client’s perspective. Process Architecture doesn’t care about departmental turfs (think of them as walls) or technology gaps (cracks in your foundation).  It looks at flow and the impression that it leaves with a client from initial contact to servicing.  This global view helps highlight key gaps that need to be overcome in the design stage.
  3. Provide Design & Details – Architects utilize available, proven, technology like RPA, AI, and Workflow to design – step by step – how the new process and experience is to work. It defines the roles and responsibilities of each type of technology, where it needs to bolt onto the process and expected benefits.  With this new design everything becomes visible (like a blueprint) so that the legal, compliance, technology, and sales teams can voice their likes/dislikes.  All the assumptions and requirements become well understood by key constituents.  This design or blueprint, will provide the basis to determine the execution plan. Not all design elements or technology requirements can be implemented at the same time.  The design defines the critical path for transformation.

Process architects have it hard – they have to understand the details but also maintain a macro view of the required transformation.  But if they get engaged before any technology decisions are solidified, they can provide the blueprint, supporting details and playbook to guide the transformation.  Do you have the right people architecting your transformation?