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better customer experiences

Is traditional process modelling passé?

by RAHUL KAKKAR
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"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing" said the father of modern quality control, Edward Denning. Based on this premise, Rahul Kakkar investigates "the true value of process modelling to organisations and to improving customer experiences"

Traditional process modelling has been used extensively over the past decades and has become a highly specialised and sophisticated field. But as customer design techniques have evolved, many are now debating whether it still has a value for understanding customer experiences.

I personally believe that traditional process mapping still adds value. Process modelling certainly has its advantages and plays a great role in process improvement. However, for successful modelling, I think the first thing you need is a clear view on what the problem is, so you can improve the efficiency of business processes. However, quite often process modelling is criticised for being an over-engineered solution, which is time-consuming and costly without adding any comparative value.

Detractors of traditional modelling believe that it is getting so detailed and complex that it loses sight of the customer experience somewhere along the way. The modelling process is usually not from a customer's lens but from a business perspective (or systems perspective) which can detract from why you are undertaking the process in the first place. If your aim is to create the best map of the real world process, then you have moved the focus of the exercise from enhancing the customer experience to creating the best theoretical model of the process. This is where I believe storyboarding and customer journey maps should be embedded into the modelling process.

Storyboarding and customer journey maps

Storyboarding and customer journey maps create a more customer centric process model. They depict and describe the customer experience in clear, concise and simple terms. Advocates of this technique believe that it delivers more value, answers more questions and fills in gaps that traditional process modelling does not.

A customer focused approach

The high point of these techniques is that they help create a customer focused (outside in) view rather than a company focused (inside out) one. It, thus, identifies the key touch points where the customer interacts with the company.

Having said that, I don't believe that organisations should completely ignore the employee and organisational viewpoints to focus solely on the customer.

There are merits and demerits of both traditional and modern process modelling techniques.  A powerful approach therefore is to build the two in tandem so that the internal perspective that arises from a process map is created in conjunction with an external view of the customer journey.

Getting the right balance

The key is to use these techniques without getting caught up in too much detail so that the big picture is not lost. There is a danger that internal modellers and staff are so close to the process that they do not realise when the point of maximum return of the exercise has been reached, and when it is time to pull back. This is where consultants can add real value because they are impartial, and can help you to reach the 'good enough' zone and halt the process before you map every tree and in turn lose sight of the forest. As long as the purpose of getting into the modelling exercise stays the focus, traditional process modelling is here to stay, and I predict that it will be more commonplace to build process models that include story boards and customer service maps.

To comment, or to find out more, please get in contact with Rahul at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Comments   

0 #2 Guruprakash Sastry 2013-05-01 18:27
Nice. I feel the need for process modelling should not necessarily be a problem. It can also be to find alternative ways for a process or to do parametrics to arrive at the best operational efficiencies for a process.
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+1 #1 Chris 2013-04-30 07:42
Rahul - good introduction to a complex subject. Agree with the need for balance between customer journeys and detailed process mapping.
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