Improving the customer experience


A Q&A with Declan O’Reilly, Business Excellence Manager at Ricoh Australia

In a recent PEX webinar, Declan O’Reilly, Business Excellence Manager at global tech leader Ricoh Australia, shared how they have successfully introduced a standardized approach to process mapping to deliver a more consistent customer experience, as well as some other really impressive results like simplified external and financial audit processes, and more effective process creation, capture and communication.

Business process mapping is a huge topic and we couldn’t fit everything into a one hour webinar, so we caught up with Declan again and asked him to spill some more of his secrets to BPM success.

What business operating model do you use at Ricoh?

We use a multi-tiered approach at Ricoh Australia.

At the strategic level, we use the Baldrige Framework, Balanced Scorecard, ISO and divisional business plans to set strategy for the company.

At the operational level, we use Prince2 to run our Project Management Office (PMO) and Kaizen to manage continuous improvement initiatives.

And how were you managing processes before you began using Promapp?

Part of the reason for our success is our commitment to quality. Previously, we relied on an internally developed quality management software system.  But as the business has evolved, this system no longer met our needs. 

Prior to Promapp, we relied on a number of disconnected systems including Visio for process maps, a combination of Word and Wiki for policies and procedures; and Excel and PDF for forms. Keeping process maps in sync  with procedures was particularly challenging as not many people were trained in Visio, and some of the content was only available on internal shared drives so could not be accessed by teams in the field.

What were some of the key challenges or reasons that were a catalyst for your process improvement journey?

We had information stored in a variety of different places and formats which was a challenge to keep accurate and updated. What we needed was one source of the truth that was easy to maintain and keep up to date. For example, process maps were stored in Visio, policies and procedures in Word and PDF and forms in Excel and PDF.

Our expanding workforce, with a lot of staff out in the field, made it increasingly difficult to convey information to them.  With approximately half of our workforce based in the field, we needed a system that could be accessed easily anytime, anywhere, from any device.

We were also hiring a lot of new staff and needed a way to share processes with them and to bring them up to speed as quickly as possible. We relied heavily on peer to peer training, so the introduction of Promapp gave us an incentive to update and standardize procedures with rich content, so that we could on-board new staff more quickly and more effectively.

Finally, most customer specific procedures were stored off system in word documents on local networks. By introducing these into Promapp, the procedures have become visible to all areas around the company, and can be shared with customers, which enables a much better level of transparency and accuracy. 

Since you began using Promapp, how many processes have been documented by Ricoh?

Prior to Promapp, our QMS had approximately 300 processes, all internal. Since we introduced Promapp, this number has almost tripled with a lot of content previously stored off system by different teams around the company now residing in Promapp. In addition, details for customer specific processes for billing, operations and reporting are also being loaded progressively and being shared with customers.

Although it’s a big step up in the number of processes, we now have a much better view of how the company operates which in turn has identified many incremental improvements for the benefit of Ricoh and our customers.

How did Ricoh go about selecting ownership of processes across multiple business units?

It was very simple really. Our logic was that the people in each business area are the subject matter experts, so they are the ones best placed to take on ownership and maintenance of procedures.

Since assigning an owner and expert to each business process, we have seen greater interest and involvement in keeping processes up to date across the company, which has the added benefit of providing a thorough training resource and reference material for new customers and for new employees.

What kinds of training have you provided staff in relation to documenting and following processes?

Since launching Promapp, we have developed a 90 minute course that runs every few weeks and is available to any person, whether they’re trying Promapp for the first time, or they’re looking for a refresher and Q&A.

The sessions typically involve a quick introduction to Promapp including 10 reasons to use; standard Promapp training videos on how to create a process from scratch; Ricoh standards on using Promapp including naming conventions, and over 30 minutes of exercises to get familiar with how Promapp works. We find that most staff are up and running after half an hour. They try to document a process for their area during the session.

Apart from training, we also communicate regularly with staff on new process content and features in Promapp and provide updates on regular webinars from Promapp.

You mentioned you have process champions to drive the capture of processes.  How have you maintained momentum within the organisation when process champions leave?

All processes are linked to roles rather than individuals so when one of our process champions leave the company we’re able to run a report and know what processes they are responsible for or are a stakeholder in.  For example, if our chief accountant were to leave, we would be able to run a report in Promapp to see all the processes and procedures that have some input by the chief accountant for their replacement to look over when they joined the company.  We’ve found that this has been a really good means for us to get new people up to speed very quickly.

We also hold champion meetings every month, where our process champions get to share what theyre working on, including any challenges and wins. The meetings are also an opportunity to discuss new features that may be available in Promapp and how these may be best used at Ricoh.

In the webinar you talked about developing a standard glossary – who is responsible for the development of that glossary?

So far we have over 300 acronyms in the glossary and that's growing week on week.  It’s been a very useful way for us to tell staff members and customers what different terms and acronyms mean.

Any staff member has the ability to add terms to the glossary, and we have found this in itself has provided an incentive for staff to use Promapp. We also encourage our customer facing teams to add customer acronyms where applicable, which helps with the interpretation and use of processes when they’re shared with customers.

Since using Promapp, what improvements have you seen in the customer experience?

What’s been really great is the innovation we’ve seen from our staff.  Since initial training, some teams have taken it upon themselves to create content regarding procedures tailored for certain customers.  This has allowed us to centrally capture information about specific customer requirements such as how companies want to be billed, the protocol for installations and service calls, and what reports are required on a regular basis.

Our customers love this degree of transparency. Some have even put the links to the processes on their own websites, so if their staff have any questions about the relationship with Ricoh, they can click on the link to see a read-only version of our procedures.

Customers are encouraged to provide feedback directly on each process which feeds back automatically to the relevant team that looks after that process, so we are continuously improving how the processes operate.

As an example, twelve months ago we used to run many different reports for our customers, which placed a lot of overhead on different teams around the company. Introducing Promapp has allowed us to review and standardize the reports provided to customers, by taking best practices from one customer and applying that to the next customer.  Customers love that, and in turn have been giving us more and more feedback on what they'd like to see from us.  It’s been a very good and effective way for us to get feedback and to use that feedback to improve our processes and procedures and systems.

Are there any lessons you’ve learned during this journey that you would like to share with others who are considering changing the way they manage their business processes?

Start small and choose a few business areas to begin with. For each area, choose a number of business processes to convert into Promapp, and record how quickly this can be done including adding rich content such as images, videos and web links. At the same time, use these processes to start a glossary and list of systems for the company.

Once the initial pilot is done, organise a meeting with senior managers and get the process owners and experts to demonstrate what they have developed in Promapp. In particular, highlight the speed with which processes can be developed and deployed; how detailed descriptions appear when hovering over different terms and systems, and how easy it is to share processes and collect feedback.

The experience at Ricoh to date is that Promapp is the perfect system for managing our Quality Management System, sharing agreed processes with customers, and using these processes to on-board and upskill staff. Most of all, it’s been incredible easy to use which has provided an incentive for all teams around the company to get on board.

Catch the replay of Declan’s webinar here.

Got some BPM questions or tips of your own? Share them in the comments below.


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