3 Ways Process Innovation Powers Transformation

This year’s CEO survey indicates senior executives are thinking a lot about processes, the flow of information, and what skills are required for our future workforce.


I ran a workshop about process governance and digital transformation at the Public Sector Innovation Summit in Canberra at the end of March. It was over-subscribed (double the number of attendees we expected!), indicating this is a topic of considerable interest. Participants represented a wide variety of government agencies and business units. Everyone was looking at how they could improve work processes and securely share information.

I began the session by describing several case studies, sharing the success stories and lessons learned from some of our customers who have been leading a breakthrough approach to process automation.

The group then shared their own challenges and experiences. Together we identified 3 essential insights for process innovation and interestingly they all centered around people:

  • Design thinking and staff user experience (UX) are often overlooked
  • Data will build staff support for change and targeted improvement
  • Information governance empowers staff to expand the transformation

Your forgotten customer

This year’s CEO survey indicates senior executives are thinking a lot about processes, the flow of information, and what skills are required for our future workforce. They are concerned about building trust, connecting better with their customers and employees, and remaining competitive.

Many have begun with the frontline technology for better customer service. This is a great start, but as Stephen Duncan notes, digital services extend “beyond the glass” and into office processes. If these processes are still manual, the disconnect is likely creating both disillusioned customers and frustrated staff.

The nature of the workforce and how people work is fundamentally changing. Just like our customers, employees are increasingly digital, mobile and networked. Although frontline, customer services are becoming more dynamic, unfortunately internal work processes often remain analogue and linear.

User experience (UX) and design thinking are just as important for internal processes as for external customer services. Design thinking is human-centred and oriented towards business outcomes. If you want staff to join the digital journey you need to understand how they feel about a work process, and discover how you can make it easier for them.

Evidence-based decisions

Much has been written about business process re-engineering. It sounds complex and disruptive.

Fundamentally redesigning every process before it can become digital makes for a long journey to value and possibly a big change management exercise. And how do you know if your redesign is right?

Of course, you should review each process and take the opportunity to “design out” any steps that clearly no longer add value, or are made redundant by digitisation.

Other than that, don’t be afraid to automate a process as-is – but don’t stop there.

Automation generates loads of data about how a process is operating. It can be visualised in real time (e.g through dashboard reports) to monitor performance and identify bottlenecks.

You should use this data to make evidence-based decisions to improve the process, rather than relying on assumptions and guesswork. This is where process innovation truly takes flight and the greatest benefits can be realised.

It also helps people understand why change is needed and how their daily experience can benefit.

Safe spaces to work and play

Perhaps the greatest opportunities and risks of digital processes lie in the free flow of data and information.

When you build information governance into process flows and collaboration spaces by design, staff can safely share information between teams or with external stakeholders.

Using existing platforms to apply information governance policies and controls, while people continue to work in familiar applications from various devices or locations, allows them to spend more time on high value tasks and less on administration.

Knowing that the security and integrity of the information is protected, can build staff confidence in new digital ways of working. With experience, they will begin to identify more opportunities for process improvement and better customer service.

Information governance should always be viewed as a way to empower people to collaborate, innovate and expand the business transformation.

The secret sauce

For most organisations the question is not “why should we transform?”, but “how can we transform?”

They want to know which activities will progress their digital journey.

We know the elements of successful organisational transformation are people, policy, process and technology platforms. Data and information are also increasingly recognised as key enablers.

There’s been good progress in terms of policy and platforms. But so far, the focus on frontline IT and “window dressing” has been slow to deliver the efficiencies and cultural change of a digital workplace. How can we accelerate that transition?

People and internal processes are the missing ingredients that can kick your digital transformation into a higher gear. Together, they make transformation not just achievable, but organic and sustainable.

I’ll be talking more about these ideas at the
Public Sector Forum in Sydney (20-21 June) – examining process governance as a platform for innovation and cultural transformation.

Sonya Sherman is a data and information specialist supporting innovation, collaboration and digital transformation in government business.


Sonya Sherman, Industry Solutions Principal

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