Norbert Sandau on collaborative BPM at AOK Nordost
Recently, Signavio had a visit from one of it’s long time champions and good friend, Norbert Sandau, Head Of Operations at AOK Nordost. Signavio and AOK have been working together now for over 8 years. After almost a decade, the two have not only achieved national and international success, but also developed as organizations in a way that would not be possible without their relationship.
As one of the largest health insurance companies in Germany, AOK has been providing security and comprehensive medical assistance for the past 125 years. AOK cares for approximately 24 million people, almost a third of the German population. Around 55,000 employees in 1,380 branches guarantee efficient customer service.
By using Signavio, AOK Nordost have been able to collaboratively design processes at three AOK subsidiaries. Gero Decker sat down with Norbert Sandau and asked him about the successful partnership. Here is an English transcript of the conversation.
Gero Decker - How did AOK Nordost become involved with Process Management?
Norbert Sandau - Well, it’s a long story. We’ve been using processes for over 10 years now. We said from the outset that we didn’t just want to review tasks but that processes would be a much more optimal way to firstly, document what we’re doing and secondly, to constantly optimize and improve. How can we do things differently and what can we do better? We now have initiatives that span departments, these departments can then work together on optimization projects and optimize processes across organizational boundaries, with a consistent and strong focus on the customer.
Gero Decker - Was Process Thinking difficult to get accustomed to?
Norbert Sandau - It was fine actually, we had organized it centrally and then employees quickly got themselves up to speed and completed a REFA course (work and process organization training) – so Process Thinking came quite quickly as the departments also had an invested interest in it. They were particularly interested in establishing their staff requirements – this isn’t such a main point for us now, but back then it was really at the forefront. Then we really started to focus on what tool to implement and that’s how Gero (Signavio CEO) and I crossed paths.
Gero Decker - Why did you decide on Signavio?
Norbert Sandau - In the early stages, we had contacts at the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) and exchanged ideas there on what developments were being made in Process Management. We filled our Process Landscape out completely and found that we had very complex processes. This led to a discussion about how we might optimize these processes and how we can make the work carried out by employees, in various departments, easier. At this stage HPI put us in contact with the Oryx product, as Signavio was then called - that’s how we ended up consciously deciding on Signavio as the tool for us and moving away from Aris, the tool we were previously using. We were able to very quickly implement the requirements we had set out. We also used Signavio to bring in collaborative elements to our project – getting other AOK branches on board and showing them how to model processes in one standardized platform. Everyone is able to see what other employees are doing, copy activities, take on an optimization project, in order to collaboratively reach our end goal. Which lead to the.
Gero Decker - Since implementing Signavio have you noticed any particular changes?
Norbert Sandau - Yes, definitely, we’ve expanded our approach a lot, whereas we used to have a central focus which was driven by organizational development, we now have projects that focus on the most important processes which we strive to optimize collaboratively with the customer and with specific rules in mind. We use the processes to implement optimization, to identify it, to describe changes and to develop future state processes. I think we are the only company of this size that is actively working on this, working with processes requires a lot of effort but the success justifies the hard work. We had two mergers, one between AOK Berlin and AOK Brandenburg and now with the AOK Mecklenburg Vorpommern, BPM is helping us to create and carry out harmonized processes.
Gero Decker - What are the three most important goals you’ve managed to reach with Process Management?
Norbert Sandau - I’ll start with an unusual point - for me BPM is a further development of the company culture. If you look at processes as something totally different, they make communication possible to the benefit of the customer, to the organization and to the benefit of optimizing processes. This leads to conversations, I’ve seen many colleagues in conversation pointing out that they never understood the significance of certain processes for certain individuals and that they didn’t realize where certain tasks fitted into a process chain until we introduced a collaborative tool. In the traditional sense, BPM has helped us to really understand what we’re doing, it’s a source of information for our employees so we know what we are doing, and where we want to go. For that, you need processes.
Gero Decker - Quick final question, would you recommend Signavio?
Norbert Sandau - Yes of course!
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