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Finding The Main Character Of Digitized Process: How Not To Lose The Plot

Code Halos
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Auto Manufacturing

Finding The Main Character Of Digitized Process: How Not To Lose The Plot

Without wonder and insight, acting is just a business. With it, it becomes creation. ~ Bette Davis Here at Unevenly Distributed,...

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Without wonder and insight, acting is just a business. With it, it becomes creation.
~ Bette Davis

Here at Unevenly Distributed, we’ve been thinking tirelessly about the impact of digitization on business processes as we know them.  As a part of that, many in the industry have been focusing – rightly – on the impact of robots and automation on process.  We have too.  And as processes re-form, evolve, interact, and otherwise change –fast – in a world of Code Halos, the potential of “losing-the-plot” is heightened.

This brings me to the point of this particular blog post.  Over the last couple months speaking with buyers, analysts and other colleagues about the future of process in a digitizing world, one of the key ideas that’s strongly resonating is notion of finding the “main character” of a business process.  Gartner analyst Janelle Hill recently held a terrific webinar on this very issue called “Re-Inventing Processes in the Digital Age”, and addressed the main character issue from a different perspective, asking: “Who ‘owns’ a car crash?  The government, insurance, healthcare, automotive, retailers, or legal?” 

Our own Paul Roehrig, Ben Pring and Malcolm Frank discussed the notion of the “main character” of process at length in the Code Halos book.  In sum, it’s the “thing” that digital processes need to align to. That is, the person or thing that is acted on from the beginning to the end of a work process.  For a P&C insurance process, it’s the claim.  For a trade, it’s a trade order.  For auto manufacturing, it’s the car.  For a procure to pay process, it starts with a purchase order that turns into an invoice.  For global shipping, it’s a transit order

Essentially, a person or thing anchors the “story” of a process.  This is especially true in customer experience – the main character is, literally, the customer.  Putting them at the center of the process helps the re-imagination process.  It connects all—or most—of the steps of some elements of the work your organization does.

As an example, let’s consider a simple healthcare claim. 

  • The insurable event: You’re hit by a car while riding your bike.
  • The hospital visit and claim initiation: The hospital staff diagnoses a minor leg fracture, puts you in a splint, and sends you hobbling on your way after you hand over your co-payment. The hospital also initiates a claim for reimbursement from your healthcare insurer.
  • Claim intake: Your insurer takes in the claim, cleans the data, confirms it has the information needed, and validates your coverage.
  • Claim adjudication and processing: The insurer then adjudicates the claim and decides what to pay based on your coverage. If there are any issues, the claim may be routed to a separate subprocess. The claim then moves into the payment process. Your insurer reimburses the hospital for what it decides to cover.

But who is the main character here? Is it the individual who had the accident? Is it the hospital? Or, is it the claim? In this case, it’s the claim. If reimagined—with process-level information and insight around the claim—the claim’s halo would connect you with the Code Halos around your doctor, the hospital, your insurer, and with your bank. All steps would be orchestrated, with the information halo around the claim continually inflating as it moves through the process.

This idea is resonating strongly, and the conversations continue as businesses re-focus, re-imagine, and re-code their processes.  Given the pace of change that so many processes are about to go through given the forces of Digitization and Code Halos, it’s important to constantly keep process “main characters” as the “lodestone” guiding the journey through rapid process change and reformation.

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