A service process supports or assists the core work of professionals and consultants in service firms. As an example, the process of expenses reimbursements is not central to the delivery of the service; but it is important to the management of the firm. It is a support, or service, or secondary, process.
The problem: forgetting service processes
Consulting and service firms naturally tend to focus on their core processes, through which they deliver service to the client. This is great, since they are the heart and competitive differential of this kind of companies.
On the other hand, many times the company leave aside, or simply forget, the service processes that support the professionals in the delivery of the core services. Let’s look at a concrete example. Let’s consider the expenses reimbursements to professionals who visit clients, travel to other cities and incur a variety of expenses that must then be refunded. It is common to see that this process is unformalized: each person performs it as he/she it should be. Each professional collects invoices and receipts for these expenses. And once a month they are presented together to the administrative staff. Of course, the professional expects to be paid immediately. This generates:
- Overload in the administration staff, which from one moment to the next has to process a quantity of papers.
- Lack of control over expenses, since they are all presented together and it is difficult to analyze them one by one.
- Discontent in the professional, who is not quickly refunded and has no control over the reimbursement status.
- Possibility of reimbursing expenses that do not correspond (higher costs for the company).
- Several inefficiencies in the handling of all those papers (processing, storage, later search).
You can extrapolate this expense reimbursement example to virtually any other service process in professional services and consulting firms.
The lack of formalization and automation of the processes that support the provision of the service, lead to administrative chaos as the firm grows. This becomes an invisible brake on growth. And it generates very bad perception in employees, making it difficult to retain talent.
Approaching a solution
Formalizing first (using a BPMN diagram or other notation) and then automating is the recommended way. The exercise of formalizing the service process, rationalizing and simplifying it, in itself provides relevant benefits to the organization. You probably will find much more efficient ways of performing each service process. You may also eliminate stages or controls that do not add value.
From the formalization of the process model, the next step is its automation. You can use a business process management (BPM) tool for this purpose.
The historical pitfall of this approach is that BPM tools involved expensive licensing, often inaccessible to small and medium sized professional services firms. In addition, it took a long time to configure the processes in them and get them up and running.
Today, cloud BPM tools such as Flokzu eliminate both of these pitfalls. They provide affordable and flexible licensing, with no upfront investment. And they are simple and easy enough to use so that complete processes can be implemented in hours (not days, not weeks). This video shows an example of setting up a complete process in 6 minutes.
Benefits of automating a service process
You can expect the following benefits when modelling and automating service processes:
- Scalability. Support processes will no longer be a brake on growth. You can hire more professionals, and service processes will continue working in the same way for everyone.
- Cost Control. Having a single place where all the service processes that involve expenses are, facilitates their control and therefore can help in reducing costs.
- Higher Profitability. Preventing professionals from wasting time managing support processes, requesting information, asking questions, etc. has a direct impact on productivity. Adding this productivity increase to a better cost control, you get more profitability.
- Better customer perception. It’s true, customers see everything. And if the support processes, internal to the firm, are a mess, customers will see it.
- Talent retention. The internal order increases the satisfaction of the firm’s professionals. And this helps retain talent, who are quickly demotivated when they lose time due to inefficient support processes.
When you create an account in Flokzu, you can start with several service processes already configured and adjust them for your company. Certainly, this greatly accelerates your adoption of the tool. Some examples of processes already available:
Simply access the Flokzu Web Site, press the “Register” button and choose the “Services” preset.
Finally, you can also schedule a session with a Process Analyst here who will help you with anything you need to make your service processes available in just a few hours.
Schedule here a 30 minutes session to see one of your real service process running.