Navigating Business Process Transformation: Top Insights from ASUG Research

Navigating Business Process Transformation

Thought leaders and industry professionals recently gathered for the two-day SAP Signavio Business Transformation Forum 2023 (Sept. 11-13; Scottsdale, AZ), which provided a valuable platform for them to share key insights and lessons learned on the evolving landscape of business transformation.

“Don't sit back,” Rouven Morato, General Manager for SAP Signavio at SAP, advised attendees in his opening keynote. "Challenge yourself, and embark on the journey of reinventing your organization for the future."

Morato demonstrated SAP Signavio’s journey by taking off layers of t-shirts one-by-one, from a top-layer “transformation” shirt to, finally, an "SAP Signavio + LeanIX" reveal. (You can see the t-shirt reveals yourself in this on-demand recording.) Morato then ended his keynote with a surprise, as SAP CEO Christian Klein joined virtually for a live interview, in which Klein spoke to the role of SAP Signavio in ensuring successful and holistic transformation journeys. 

Gero Decker, General Manager for SAP Signavio, went into more depth on the LeanIX merger, also discussing his proven track record in predicting the future and the soon-to-be-released AI features in the SAP Signavio platform. In addition to these dynamic keynotes, customer stories, live demos and workshops abounded across the two days. Not to mention a mechanical bull. Wait? Maybe I’m not supposed to mention the mechanical bull…

All this excitement, and I haven’t even told you about the ASUG research I was invited to share! I had the privilege to present ASUG research alongside SAP's Dee Houchen, Head of Market Impact for SAP Signavio, on stage during day two. In its second year, this collaborative research shed light on the challenges and opportunities facing organizations in their quest for more efficient SAP implementations. 

Research results, which will be officially revealed in the coming weeks, demonstrate the enduring importance of change management processes, which can expedite transformations, but also revealed a critical challenge: organizations still struggle to bridge the gap between people, processes, and systems in their pursuit of successful SAP implementations. 

Here are the three key takeaways from my conversation with Dee Houchen:

1. People are at the heart of transformation. 

The core message of our presentation was that people are still the linchpin of any successful business transformation. Organizations are motivated to transform primarily to enhance operations, and this involves empowering their workforce. Understanding and addressing the human aspect of change management is vital for a successful transformation, particularly as research respondents who cited change management as a challenge spiked to 58% in 2023 (from 43% in 2022). 

Another standout issue was the skills gap, which includes the lack of essential skills, inadequate skills, or a shortage of skills and its hinderance on organizational transformation efforts. The top three missing skills identified in the research were SAP S/4HANA expertise, business process transformation, and training and onboarding management. Organizations are grappling with learning on the job or relying on external resources to fill these crucial skill gaps.

2. Set milestones and benchmarks to maintain commitment.

While numerous potential benefits can be gained from a business transformation, the research emphasized that these benefits take time to materialize. Organizations should maintain their commitment to the journey, even when immediate results may not be apparent. A long-term perspective is essential for realizing the full potential of transformation initiatives. A key insight from the research was that nearly half of respondents required more than six months to start to realize the benefits of a business transformation.

3. Unlock the potential of business process management. 

The research revealed that business process management tools are underutilized resources in the pursuit of transformation benefits. Organizations can harness the power of these tools to streamline processes, enhance collaboration, and drive efficiencies. Recognizing the value of such tools is critical for optimizing the benefits of transformation efforts.

I look forward to next year’s research collaboration with the SAP Signavio team as we continue to understand organization’s business transformation journey and of course evaluate the role of AI in the journey. Expect more insights from ASUG Research in the weeks to come.

Marissa Gilbert is Director of Research at ASUG.