From solving applications to solving processes

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Last year, a dear colleague of mine, Robbert Kooiman, wrote about the “Rise of Functional Application Management”. He talked about how together we set up a new team within Schuberg Philis and how we introduced and implemented a new ERP system which we integrated with various other tools.

Off we went!

When initiated, our team was named the Functional Application Management team, or FAM team in short. We aimed to slowly onboard existing tools under our management and optimize their configuration to fit the needs of end-users and other stakeholders.

As stated, our first project was the implementation of a new ERP system. While this was quite a task in itself, we saw tremendous value in expanding our horizon by investigating how we could further integrate it with our existing internal IT landscape. We defined a model for how such systems should interact with each other in the future. This provided us with a more clear set of goals which eventually led to several integrations between the ERP system and applications for sales, recruitment, appraisals and access management. As a result, we were able to automate steps, previously performed manually, in multiple processes such as hiring & onboarding, offboarding, order to pay, management information and others. Additionally, we introduced a new way of thinking: instead of having separate databases with different versions of the truth, we used the new ERP solution as the single source of truth for information.

Within our team this proved to be a paradigm shift, we realized that our main focus was never on the application itself but rather the underlying processes which it supports. As we realized this, we continuously started to treat tools and applications as supplementary and supportive to processes instead of as solutions to a problem.

This process-oriented mindset became key in our way of working. It made us feel less dependent on tooling and enabled us to reach a deeper level of understanding in how and why we act in certain processes. Once you truly understand the goal and means of each step in a process, you can then spot its flaws. Of course, it all depends on the context, in many cases simple changes can provide great improvements and in some cases better configuration or implementation of different tooling provides more value. This isn’t exact science, but taking the process as a starting point helps in both understanding a problem and eventually building a structural solution.

By further adopting this process-oriented perspective we gained a lot of traction and visibility. This enabled us to operate in and initiate more impacting projects and move away from how we initially started our team. It felt logical to change our team name as the old name suggested we operated in a more traditional form of functional application management. So we changed the name of the team to the Functional Business Analyst team, FBA team in short. We feel this covers our way of working and the things we do in a better way.

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What is currently going on?

Well, ambition is all around us! As an organization we have the ambition to grow our impact, the ambition to help more customers in facing their challenges and the ambition to reach more people. All these ambitions come with their own challenges and opportunities. While thinking about this many questions arise:

  • How do we scale as an organization in the sense of colleagues, customers, and culture?
  • How do we design our processes so that we enable ourselves to reach these ambitions?
  • And how can we align tooling with these processes so that we provide easy to use experiences, automation and eventually happy end-users.

In essence, it all breaks down to how to translate these ambitions and corresponding strategies to execution. The awesome part is that we’re playing a part in the forefront of answering this as we’re able to contribute to defining the strategy, designing processes, tool selection and implementing applications. This means we play a role throughout the whole chain which helps a lot in understanding the matters at hand and grasping why we made certain decisions. We are contributing to the growth of Schuberg Philis, our impact continuously increases and we are proud of what we have already achieved as a team

What’s next!

Currently, our team exists for about two years and it has been a great journey for us so far full of learning, growth and progress. During this time we have onboarded a new colleague, which now makes three of us. We are making good progress, having a lot of fun and are looking to expand our reach by hiring a fourth team member. There is so much opportunity to optimize processes and implement integrations and applications! If you are inspired by our challenges, have relevant experience and want to contribute, please see our vacancy! If you have any questions or my story got you enthusiastic, feel free to contact me.

Kind regards,

— Nick