ROT (Return on Time)

“So, what if you could maintain the same work hours and still be able to avoid growing your headcount without compromising quality, customer service, transactional cycle time, throughput, and all those wonderful metrics.” (The Power of Process, pg. 99-100)

I will give credit to Kiran Garimella in The Power of Process for “coining” a new term – Return on Time – that captures one of my thoughts around time management.  I think the struggle all of us have in any type of role is prioritization and improvement without simply throwing hours at the problem.  At a BPM conference in Boston last year, one of the speakers talked a lot about this also.  His point was that the one thing most executives no longer have is time to sit back and think.  Trying to step back, think strategically and plan for the long term is a luxury.

In an ideal state, BPM can help with this.  Most of what makes our days unplanned and chaotic is fire-fighting.  The cause for lots of fire-fighting are exceptions or unplanned events.  Lots of this can be resolved by investing upfront.  By documenting SOPs (standard operating procedures) about how to handle known exceptions keeps them from being issues.  Just like building software, upfront investment in the right requirements and user involvement minimize your changes on the backend.

Business Process Management can free up time by doing the following:

  • Requiring documentation of your process and agreement on how things will be done (policies & procedures) and how exceptions will be handled
  • Capturing internal knowledge which sits with your process SME and codifying it
  • Building out rules about situations that automatically make decisions
  • Creating escalation paths that no longer require manual involvement to track some piece of paper down and give it to a different person for approval while person X is on vacation
  • Providing process level dashboards that allow management to see bottlenecks and forecast issues rather than reactive measures where nothing can be done

Since time is a key asset in planning for the future and being innovative (not to mention reducing stress), any tool or management approach that helps with this should be highly regarded.  I believe we are starting to see some of this, but I doubt we will ever see a published business case that talks about ROT.

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