A key benefit of replatforming is having the opportunity to take a step back, review business processes and come up with ways to improve the customer experience. Often, over time, inefficient methods have been developed due to the limitations of legacy systems.
However, it can be all too tempting to simply accept this as the “norm”, rather than look to improve processes when the circumstance arises. Instead businesses can sometimes look to replicate the same unwieldy processes in their new tool because that is how things have always been done. Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes to look at a problem.
This is something very close to the heart of our lead business analyst, Leo Govan. Leo has been delivering customer-centric solutions for over 10 years and his approach is to never stop questioning. We asked him to take some time out of his schedule to tell us about a project he was working on where he came across this exact scenario.
Accepting the “norm”
“I was working on a project for a large, UK-based company, delivering both B2B and B2C experiences. By far the more complicated and largest share of the enterprise was the B2B aspect. At that time there was a very complicated way of claiming against purchases e.g. if they were faulty, missing items, etc, which resulted in credit notes being posted back to the customer’s account. This process could only be described as “somewhat cumbersome”.
The client was using an enterprise-level legacy system, which won the two prizes no-one wants: being both error prone and arduous. In fact, the business user was able to get to the end of this before realising they had made a mistake, and would have to start again. So far, some very frustrated people. But the pain continues beyond this, as the ineffectiveness of the claims system left my client with huge reconciliation problems, caused both by customers trying to outsmart the system and filling in their claims incorrectly.
Our client hired us originally to simply replicate this process onto their new platform. What we were greeted with when we arrived wasn’t pretty – nothing about the system was normalised, and there had been no effort to unify or simplify the functionality.
This can be one of the main problems with legacy software – as with school dinners, you get what you’re given, and you aren’t able to make improvements.
Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes to look at a problem
“But as our client was replatforming, there was an opportunity to review the journey and make improvements. This was a step-by-step process. We spent a lot of time interviewing the employees within the business who had intimate knowledge of the claim system, going painstakingly through things line by line to understand all of the elements involved.
Through a combination of interviews and workshops we developed a thorough understanding of the existing process.
Throughout, I was continually questioning the client – forcing them to justify everything, including every single field and text label. My goal was to remove any unnecessary barriers for the user, so as to ensure the ease of completion.
For example, I realised that the different reason codes (the categories under which customers were making claims) didn’t need to be lumped together – by separating the workflow of the different reasons this reduced the choices the customer had to make, and therefore reduced their errors. By restricting certain things the customer could do we were able to close down loopholes for mistakes.
I also reversed how the customer would flow through the process. Instead of being presented with large amounts of information, the new system could make ‘educated guesses,’ working off early choices made by the customer, and funnel them appropriately: the customer selects an invoice and states who the supplier is they want to claim against, and the system then programmatically filters out every other suppliers’ line items in that invoice (potentially hundreds of lines) and returns only what they need to see.
Explaining how things work
“The tools we use are complex: as complex as the businesses that run on these tools. Enterprise platforms are complicated and re-platforming or upgrading systems can take a while to properly implement. When you are trying to reduce the complex technological ideas and systems used by enterprise systems into readily understandable and simple terms, it can be a challenge to explain to this to the end user, who is used to the old way of doing things (although they are also often frustrated by it!)
It can be a challenge to onboard clients whose roles are (not unreasonably) unrelated to systems development or only see IT as a necessary evil. A part of my role is helping with the inevitable shock of change and explaining how clients can use a system, and delivering this in such a way that makes sense to the given audience.
It’s important to roll up your sleeves and do some hand-holding throughout this stage. You can’t just handover a new platform and hope for the best. That’s why at Greenlight Commerce we make sure you’re part of the process throughout the whole journey – from understanding a problem, to finding a solution and implementing, before finally educating and supporting.”