Is Process Stupid?

Posted by Shelley Sweet on Monday, May 16, 2011 - 12:58

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What makes it so hard for some companies to move to a process orientation? I offer some food for thought in an article

But what have you found? And how do you deal with it?


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Max Tay
posted 5 years 24 weeks ago
IMO process improvement in many cases are silo centric, i.e. the focus of the improvement is constrained to a narrow and define boundaries. These boundaries are normally business units and business function silos. Since it is within business functional unit, there is a clear line of responsibilities and performance measurement. The measurements are again straight forward. On the other hand, when looking at cross functional processes, there is in general lack of ownership (responsibilities and authorities) at the right level of management. As you have pointed out the "common goal" is now at this higher level that must meet the organisational objectives rather than functional silo objectives. Hence the organisational objectives should become the driver now. Here the performance measurement will move away from simple "efficiency and effectiveness" to a more complex organisational outcome based measurements. There are THREE key challenges moving from successful divisional process improvement projects to cross functional process management.
(1) It is no longer a one off process improvement project but a continuous day-to-day management activities - from BI to BPM;
(2) there is a need to have a cross functional role (soem sort of process owner / manager) that bears the responsibilities and having the authorities to manage this cross functional process (see #1);
(3) change to performance measurement (based on organisational objectives) that could potentially contradict with existing silo's measurement (that was just been implemented but neglecting the big picture).
Doug May
posted 6 years 24 weeks ago
I realized over a year ago that you can't sell SOA to a business manager, because SOA is a technical solution to a problem they aren't even sure they have. SOA provides many wonderful architectural advantages (including de-coupling of key process components, service provider flexibility, and potentially dramatic reductions in integration and maintenance costs), but that's all about "how," and IT knows that the conversation to have with the business is about "what." I thought it was telling that the report from this year's Enterprise Architectures (UK) conference noted that SOA has taken a back seat to BPM. BPM is about how you balance repeatability and control against flexibility and change, and covers (or at least touches) the entire spectrum of business activities. In order to serve the business, in their job of serving the true customer, IT must help the business tune the levels of flexibility and control at every point in every business activity. You never sell the business on firewalls, you sell them on security and trust (and compliance, if necessary). BPM is more properly aligned along the transition zone between IT (infrastructure and capabilities), and business needs (and the pain points that reveal them). To address the opening question, I would say that process is not stupid. Rather, it is central to the mutual understanding between the business and IT. It is the common ground where the business view of "what" naturally translates into the IT view of "what," so that "how" stays out of the joint conversation and returns to its natural home (embedded inside of IT). [Updated on 7/2/2011 3:31 PM] [Updated on 7/2/2011 3:37 PM]
Steven Dearborn
posted 6 years 25 weeks ago
I have seen so many pontifications of BPM and SOA over the years that I agree with the eyes glazing over mentioned in the ealier post. In fact, that observation made me respond. I have found it best to continually demonstrate real results to clients who "get-it" once they see a service-oriented solution to a business process up and running in front of them. Demonstrating something dynamic which actually works evokes a creative response in people which gets them more fully engaged in the solution.
Greg Jones
posted 6 years 27 weeks ago
To paraphrase a well-known saying, Process isn't stupid; People are stupid. :)
Charles Harbour
posted 6 years 27 weeks ago
This really is a good question--unfortunately, I don't think there's a magic bullet, or else this would be a lot easier to promote. In my experience, I have tons of support from the folks in the trenches across all of the silos involved--but once you start talking about cooperation across silos, where management would need to get involved, everything falls apart. I can tell you what didn't work in one instance--you might think that if you phrase the question as a data quality improvement project (a project where bad data has been shipped in the past), where you explicitly define the data quality measures that will be created and maintained, that the upper management folks would be happy to listen. And in my case, you'd be wrong. I think I misunderstood management's understanding of quality--that they didn't connect the dots between bad data=unhappy customers=less revenue. If your management doesn't understand that connection, you really have no hope of implementing a process improvement strategy (other than to reduce operating costs). Maybe we should be focusing on measuring and documenting that equation?
Jerry Talley
posted 6 years 28 weeks ago
By the time you've said "BPM" and "SOA" and "Business Architecture" anyone in the audience who isn't a died-in-the-wool process movement devotee has started rolling their eyes and checking out. That's the problem, not the solution. We need to do a better job of talking in plain english to people who don't understand the notion of 'work process' at all. Even if they go along with all of our bizarre language and technologies, they will fall back into their current practices soon after we stop holding their hand. --JLT
Mathew Newton
posted 6 years 29 weeks ago
Hi, BPM is only a part of the picture with SOA being another part of the techical infrastucture and then Business Architecture is required to place these innitiatives into a more holistic business strategy.
Shelley Sweet
posted 6 years 29 weeks ago
What makes it so hard to go from process improvement projects to an organizational approach? What conditions encourage this movement? i have found that enterprise systems implementations can encourage it as it gets cross-functional groups to work together toward a larger common goal - as long as it is more than just automation. Also if divisions have had successful BPM projects and now want to do something more end-to-end because they see greater value. What do you see?

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