October 2006 Business Process Improvement Survey: Creating Smarter, Faster, Cheaper Processes is IT

By Allan Alter  |  Posted 10-04-2006

October 2006 Business Process Improvement Survey: Creating Smarter, Faster, Cheaper Processes is IT

One of the most important lessons from the last 25 years of business computing is that you can't throw technology at a problem and expect it to go away, or fling a system at an opportunity and expect the dollars to rain down. To get any real value, business processes—how people work, how work is organized, how work flows—have to be changed, too. That lesson has been absorbed, judging by the results of our first survey on business process improvement since 2003. Process improvement has emerged as the top business priority for IT organizations; improving productivity and reducing costs as the most common goal. IT isn't just focusing on blue collar work and customer service; white-collar work like compliance and planning is also a target of IT's process improvement efforts. However, while process improvement is a top priority, companies rarely seek to radically re-engineer their business processes. We'll be releasing more findings from the survey each Wednesday this month; see below for the full schedule.

Upcoming results from the Business Process Improvement survey:

  • Oct. 11: BPI vendors are missing the target.
  • Oct. 18: Sea change in application integration; plenty of opportunities for BPI progress.
  • Oct. 25: Lack of cross-functional cooperation thwarts BPI efforts; the problem children of process improvement.

    For more data and analysis, see CIO Insight's Research Center blog at go.cioinsight.com/researchcentral.

    Next page: Improving business processes is the top priority for many IT executives, especially at small and midsize companies.

    Improving business processes is

    the top priority for many IT executives, especially at small and midsize companies.">

    Finding 1. Improving business processes is the top priority for many IT executives, especially at small and midsize companies.
    Most companies are hoping to boost productivity and cut costs by revamping their business processes with the help of IT; smaller companies are also aiming to increase revenues. Not surprisingly, that's spurred an increase in the number of BPI projects across the board. Integrating timely information into work processes is also important: 83 percent of respondents say one of their primary BPI goals is to deliver critical information to employees while they are carrying out the company's business processes. But CIOs aren't just seeking to improve operations like logistics and customer service; they are also looking to improve the ways that managers and knowledge workers do their jobs, since managers as well as rank-and-file employees are under great pressure to work more efficiently and effectively. Financial, compliance and strategic planning processes head the list of today's top three BPI priorities.



    Next page: Although process improvement is a priority, the pace of change is moderate.

    Although process improvement is

    a priority, the pace of change is moderate.">

    Finding 2. Although process improvement is a priority, the pace of change is moderate.
    Companies rarely seek to radically re-engineer their business processes. Except for IT and customer service, 30 percent or less of departments are undergoing large-scale changes at this time. One red flag: The pace of change is slowest in engineering and manufacturing. That does not bode well for innovation or the health of the manufacturing sector. IT executives feel their own department is undergoing the greatest change. Whether objective fact or subjective feeling, it underscores the enormous changes that our August IT Organization survey revealed. We also found that the corporate IT department is actively involved in process change in most departments, though again not as much as in 2002—a surprising finding, given how centralized corporate IT has become.

    Research Guide:

  • Finding 1: Improving business processes is the top priority for many IT executives, especially at small and midsize companies.
  • Finding 2: Although process improvement is a priority, the pace of change is moderate.

    Read our previous surveys on process improvement:

  • Top Trends 2006: The Pursuit of the Frictionless Business Platform
  • Necessity is the Mother of Velocity
  • Focusing IT on Innovation Will Come Back Into Vogue
  • Mobile Devices Will Become Strategic Necessities
  • Mobility + Collaboration = Productivity
  • Process Management Revs Up
  • The Real-Time Enterprise 2003: Can You Keep Up With Business Change? (July 2003)
  • Business Process Management (August 2002)

    Related stories:

  • GM Pens IT-Buying Bible
  • What's Driving Toyota?
  • Strategic Technology: Product Lifecycle Management Moves Ahead (July 2006)
  • Business Process Modeling: A Model Student (March 2004)