“Fear of change is the biggest limit to process thinking”
Icologiq, an innovator in the digitisation of business processes, has been working for 25 years to help operations run smoothly, this way increasing their profitability. Icologiq’s vision took shape more than 20 years ago, when CEO Peer Reinhard and his former colleague Cor van Weenum (former director of IT at VolkerWessels, now running his own company) worked together on the digital project file at VolkerWessels. Cor talks about how their ideas about process management, which they developed together years ago, formed the beginning of his career in process digitisation, and how he still applies this knowledge on a daily basis.
“There are two main questions to be asked when it comes to process digitisation,” Cor explains. “How do you ensure that the quality of the data is clear and unambiguous at both project and customer level, and how do you make daily tasks as easy as possible for employees? People don’t want to think about opening files or searching for templates, they want to focus on the activity itself. That’s why you have to guide them to the location they need, where they then only have to fill in their details in a few steps. By linking this to a workflow, you can clarify the tasks and responsibilities within an organisation. All of this contributes to support as well as initiative and innovation in the workplace, because employees want clarity about what they can do.”
The logic of data
After Cor left VolkerWessels, he fulfilled multiple functions in various sectors. Each time, he was faced with the same bottlenecks: the data was not in order, tasks and responsibilities in the implementation were not clear. “That is why you first have to map out which roles, tasks and responsibilities are assigned to which person. This is the first step of process management, so that you can work towards your goal in order to efficiently facilitate people in the tasks they have to perform. In addition, the data fields must be tightly organised, authorised and complete, everywhere in your organisation.”
“In addition, it’s important to keep an eye on the logic of data,” he continues. “You start an activity with a small amount of data, but as we are further in the process, the amount of data in each step of the activity increases. By centrally organising the data, you can manage its object. In the case of a buyer, the property is the object and the buyer is the user. If this buyer sells the house after 10 years, you transfer the expanded file with information and history to the next buyer – without the privacy-sensitive data ofcourse. This way, each object receives a file, which is made available to the user, the administrator and the maintaining parties.”
One integrated system for every project
“In practice, we are too used to a ‘system’ consisting of a collection of ‘subsystems’ of different applications,” Cor says. “However, if you look at the situation on a project level, you’ll see that the entire project actually consists of just one system. Once you have your data processing system in order, the data only needs to be delivered. If you look at IT the way it is now, you’ll see that even today, we are not discussing processes and responsibilities as much as we should. When a scheduling issue or an HRM issue occurs, a package is purchased for scheduling or HRM. But if you look at all these products together from a distance, you’ll see that you are always talking about a project and a customer. That is why in an ideal situation, you only need to create two files: a customer file and a project file. This uniformity is something we perfectly completed at the time, together with Icologiq – still Quality Online by then.”
“Every time I arrive at a new company these days, my first experience is that the business is not internally integrated. Then, I try to explain to people that they have to think in terms of processes. I set up working groups with core users, whom I challenge to step out of their comfort zone by asking them the question: what do you really need to do your job well? The follow-up question is: what does your colleague need from you to be able to do his or her job well? This way, when you’ll create the awareness that is necessary to map the process properly, you’ll see that reuse of data leads to fewer actions, but instead enriches the data in the process. As a result, you’ll see that people learn to think differently, in a more process-based way.”
Fear of control
“Ultimately, I want to make the work of employees easier, transparent and measurable,” Cor concludes. “As soon as I start talking about measurability, I often notice people experience feelings of fear: fear of control. It is in our nature that as soon as someone wants to point out something to us, many people are afraid of being controlled. But my goal is not to control. My goal is that after three months, I can drive out of the parking lot, knowing that people no longer need me. I want to make employees aware of the fact that they can change something themselves instead of hiding behind the director or a package. Every director would like to have a good self-managing organisation, so that their process of decision-making can grow as you allow more creativity within the existing frameworks.”
“The most important aspect of a process-based approach, is for people to let go off their fear of change. In my opinion, this fear is the biggest limit to process thinking. Most of my time, I spend explaining to people that they themselves have this responsibility. What’s the best way to deal with this? I think you can go a long way by giving your staff space as a management, listening to their wishes and thinking about what it will yield. Make them aware of the fact that if they shout something, they must first know for themselves what it will bring.”
About Cor van Weenum
Cor van Weenum is the owner of Enligne BV. Over the past 11 years, he has been approached by various boards of companies to help them with their strategy and vision for the future, whereby one of the pillars is always focused on questions such as: how do we get our data in order and how do we get more grip on our processes? How do we involve our people in the change and how do we manage our risks better? As an independent Certified IT management manager, he has been able to make a positive contribution to his clients in recent years.
About Icologiq Elements
Over the years, Icologiq has further elaborated their underlying vision on process-based working in its all-in one software platform Icologiq Elements. Elements is an integrated management system that allows companies to direct and monitor their processes, documents and documentation and actions, with the ultimate goal of achieving global uniformity and operational excellence in all processes.