Take control of process variations, post-Brexit


Research carried out by The Bank of England has revealed that since the Brexit vote, more and more UK firms are taking advantage of a weak pound and ramping up exports to new markets such as the United States and the Far East. In parallel, a recent OFX study showed that North America, Australia and Hong Kong are fast becoming the most popular destinations for British businesses to enter in the coming year and beyond.

Anticipate change

For those wanting to continue trading with Europe and/or explore territories further afield, there is likely to be greater complexity post-Brexit. Pre-Brexit may have been much simpler because you were dealing with a single trading block with the same currency, customs and rules. Now and in future you may be faced with managing different territories and cultures that may each require their own set of unique operating procedures.

No need to re-invent the wheel 

On the surface with so many variants to consider — such as language, currencies, customs tax and duties, and local laws — many businesses can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed and choosing to stick with the domestic market which is tried and tested.

Setting up each operation from scratch or compartmentalizing all operations by country or even federal state can represent a logistical nightmare, involving the setup of multiple new processes and communicating these to impacted teams. 

However, introducing process variants for different markets doesn’t have to be complicated. Promapp’s Process Variant Management (PVM) capability can address this dilemma. It allows businesses to manage additional and new business processes without re-inventing the wheel.

The key to simplifying process variation management is to establish centralized standard processes with controlled variations for different regions, products or even customers. In essence, you can preserve your core strength in how a product or service is designed and delivered, but you have the flexibility to tweak it to meet different local market requirements. 

Making it simple to establish a standard process, off which variations can be created and controlled means you no longer need to manage multiple, almost identical processes, in order to accommodate slight variations. 

Manage process variations post-Brexit

Simplify process variation management 

Digital transformation expert, Jason Bloomberg, President at analyst Intellyx touches on the dilemma for businesses that need to manage processes that are both standardized and tailored to specific market or customer needs, “Process standardization has always been at odds with business agility. In today’s dynamic digital world, enterprises must empower their people to manage processes dynamically in order to meet changing customer demands while simultaneously managing costs and compliance mandates.”

According to Jason the advantage of using Promapp’s Process Variant Management functionality “balances these competing priorities".  Creating a process variation is as simple as establishing a standard process, and using a centralized tool to ensure that business teams have access to the process variations that are relevant to them.  Making process variations a living entity means that whatever changes are around the corner, you can quickly and easily introduce and communicate process changes with minimum delay.

Crossing borders with managed variations 

With Promapp’s Process Variant Management you can create global variations that can be used across multiple processes, e.g. regional variations like country, state and office location, product group or customer type.

You can also introduce process specific variations that can be applied to just one process e.g. the procurement process may require variations for different levels of spend or the leave request process may require variations for different types of leave in individual countries. 

The experience of risk management expert, SAI Global shows how firms operating in different geographical zones are cutting complexity with process variation management. Karen Bennett, General Manager Business Excellence at SAI Global says, "We have three ways to manage technical product projects within our business. These project types are almost identical, with only a few variations between them. Promapp has allowed us to document the most complex processes then simply map the variations for the other project types." 

The hidden cost of process variation

Post-Brexit, companies will have to carefully scrutinize the pros and cons of staying in or entering new markets. The conundrum though will be in understanding the potential cost of adapting a business model to suit changing dynamics.

As industry pioneer in business model innovation, Steve Stanton says, “Standardization is a very common and very difficult problem. And because the consequences of non-standardization are not calculated, many companies don’t know how much it is costing them. The minute you make that visible, it becomes a much more solvable problem.” 

Charles Araujo, Principle Analyst at Intellyx also talks about the potential risks and expense of moving away from standard procedures “In most organizations, process standardization is a costly myth. Leadership teams are lulled into a sense of security, but those neatly defined processes almost instantly mutate once they’re released into ‘the wild’ — often with costly and unforeseen consequences.”

With Promapp’s Process Variant Management functionality it’s possible to calculate the difference in cost and time associated with each process variation. This allows organizations to make informed decisions about whether to establish ownership for or eliminate process variations. So if you were weighing up the pluses and minuses of entering a new country like China for instance, you can see exactly the additional costs of adaptations such as ‘language’, ‘customs’ and/or ‘packaging’ necessary to trade there and to see if it was worth the investment.

Act local, Think global 

Another advantage of using process variation management is that global process owners can set the standard, while assigned variation owners can apply their expertise to ensure the particular needs of the process variation are met on a country by country or market by market basis.

Global process owners are notified of any change to a process variation, enabling them to retain oversight and control and business teams on the ground are given access to the process variation applicable to them. This removes the headache of managing different regions so they comply. When there is a compliance or legislative shift, or a process review, the team now has only the one standard process to amend. If applicable, the change will flow through to the process variations as well.

Remove uncertainty and limit risk for international trading

With the ability to map both your standard and process variation for each country or market there will be no hidden surprises. You know exactly the scale of the changes required and understand the cost implications.  

In a post-Brexit world, it could be sink or swim with a deluge of threats and opportunities for businesses. By acting now to simplify and solidify your strategy, you’ll be ready for international trading once the ink is dry on the agreed final deal.

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