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  1. Peter Schooff
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  3. Tuesday, September 01 2015, 09:47 AM
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Can companies still do well if their processes are poorly designed?





Emiel Kelly Accepted Answer

The funny answer would be; yes, if they are executed well by employees who don't care about the process design. In the end I don't want good processes, I want good process results. 


And actually that is not such a strange answer. Of course so now and then you think about 'how will we deliver results and what do we need for that'. You could call that process design. And that will probably be implemented and executed and changed so now and then.


So, I think that good organizations understand the right level of flexibility and adaptabilty their processes need. This has a lot to do with the desired process result and the way you would like to manage that.


I don't like to make links to stuff I've written on other places, but it's too long to type it over:


[url="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/our-processes-very-flexiblein-doing-useless-things-emiel-kelly?trk=prof-post"]My take on flexibility and adaptability[/url]


[url="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/process-management-your-trip-nice-castle-emiel-kelly?trk=mp-reader-card"]Ways of managing a process[/url]
Common Sensei at Procesje.nl
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  1. more than a month ago
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Craig Willis Accepted Answer

No! If a company has bothered to take the time to 'design' processes and still do a bad job then they are doomed to fail! Most poor processes were never designed in the first place.
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Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer

Absolutely, they do it all the time.


The main reason is 
[b]market inefficiency  [/b]
(including information assymetry and market-distorting positioning) applying practical constraints to decision makers'
[b]bounded rationality[/b]
.


In other words, poor processes can easily thrive in an imperfect market's countless nooks and crannies.
Managing Founder, profluo.com
Comment
When being chased by a lion, you don't have to outrun the lion. You just have to outrun the guy next to you.
  1. Rachel
  2. 1 year ago
This. It's called "scale of relativity." ;)
  1. Patrick Lujan
  2. 1 year ago
A terse but very appealing answer! And true as far as it goes.

However, I think the argument assumes that "poorly designed processes" necessarily imply "inefficiency". And that inefficiency persists because markets are imperfect.

Therefore a company with poorly designed processes CAN succeed, despite failing to follow the advice of BPM.com aficionados. : )
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
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Scott Francis Accepted Answer
Blog Writer

I think the answer varies greatly with respect to the size of the company and the nature of the "poorly designed" processes.


As the question is worded, it leaves open the possibility of a good process that was "poorly designed" but arrived at a good answer anyway. It also leaves open the possibility of human effort and ingenuity overcoming the bad process (perhaps generating a new unofficial, but better process)..


Finally, if processes had to be well defined for a company to succeed, then there would be no fortune 500 companies because they all have at least some major processes that are poorly designed to *today's* needs... :)



Comment
Scott, a great comment. Formally we can call this "tacit knowledge", and the volume of tacit knowledge required to do anything is daunting. This is one of the challenges of BPM, which is about modeling, thus simplifying, reality. It's a great idea but "reality is rich" and modeling is expensive. And exception handing is a nightmare. So human ingenuity and effort are always required.
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
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E Scott Menter Accepted Answer
Blog Writer

Like, I suspect, many of you, my job (and my nature) drive me relentlessly to critique the processes I encounter on a day to day basis. Many of them are horrible. At this moment, for example, I am waiting on prior authorization from a health insurance company. The process is completely opaque: it takes forever (no problem—it's not like I actually
[b]need[/b]
the medication in question), I am afforded no opportunity for interaction or input, and in the end I will receive a stack of paper in snail mail notifying me that, for reasons that need not concern me, my claim has been denied.


Sure, in the case of a health insurance company, the awfulness of the experience is at least in part by design. But the process is without question a terrible one, and yet I can assure you the company is doing very well, thanks for asking. And this example is hardly unique. But, like the aggressive driver who nearly runs you off the highway, bad processes often seem to just cruise along without repercussions for the offenders. Justice is, as always, elusive.



http://www.bplogix.com/images/icon-x-medium.png Scott
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Ron Evans Accepted Answer
Yes, and they do, but I think they are typically in special circumstances. They probably have either a competitive niche that is hard to compete with, or are small enough not to attract too much competition (or both). Family-owned businesses fit this model well. As long as they are small enough, management (typically owners) can carry out supply chain and other business processes more or less in their heads. Once they're large enough where coordination is needed across more people/departments, it's time to consider more formal processes, or run the risk of service levels dropping, relative people costs rising, and overall loss of control.
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Rachel Accepted Answer

Absolutely. Many businesses succeed in spite of themselves. Much of this depends on your definition of "poorly defined" and "success".


I do think that this will eventually limit the company's growth. With poorly designed processes, you are still relying on a culture of heroes to fill the gaps and achieve end-to-end processing. This will only take a business so far.


Becoming a customer-focused business might be the catalyst needed for businesses to reevaluate their processes. That is, of course, as long as you aren't a captive audience like in all the healthcare & insurance examples already given.
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Marco Mafra Accepted Answer

Hi team !



Yes for short time... Not to sustain for a long time.



I think it is possible if the organisation has an "golden egg" product or service...but they will survive for short time once an sustainable business has a huge dependency of good business process.



Based on principle of the market competition, at any time (usually soon) the Customers will have other option offering better services and products that will be competing in the same niche. Moreover, in the times of economic challenges, the organisation with better Business Process will have space (lung) to maintain his business with quality and good prices with less dependency of investors/banking/funding to ensure extra funds to invest.



Another important point is that an organisation with good business process management will have improved capabilities to make changes in any direction in short time than organisations with poorly business process designed.



Rgds, M
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Ian Gotts Accepted Answer

Look at every company in the Fortune500. By any measure they have a level of success. EVERY ONE of them has poorly designed and executed processes. Every one of them could do better. Every one of them is under pressure to change with a backdrop of more stringent governance and compliance: better CX, self service support, low-touch selling online, digital disruption, reducing staff churn..... And that means that as they change their processes become out of date - and therefore look poorly design (if they had any in the first place)!!!


However, they are ALL still in business and will continue to be for the next 5 years or more.


It is not a lack of well designed process that kills them, but a lack of agility.



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Maria Paz Accepted Answer

Yes, they can... If their competitors have even worst processes. But this is a short-term vision and sooner or later they will need to improve their game. Not to mention how risky it can be if the competitors decide to implement BPM.


Our recommendation is that even small businesses should at least try to build an improvement cycle and optimize their processes. That is the least they can do.


Our [url="http://www.flokzu.com/blog/en"]blog[/url]tries to provide practical advice on how to implement BPM in all kinds of businesses, but especially in those that don't know what it is or how to deal with it.
References
  1. http://www.flokzu.com
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Juan J Moreno Accepted Answer

Definitely yes!, in many scenarios, for example:

[list="1"]
[*]
[quote][b]Monopolies[/b]
: very usual in Latam countries, where there’s no competition at all. For example, public companies, who spend time and money to design business process but they are unable/unwilling to optimize them given they don’t have competition or anything else to compare to.
[*]
[b]Small Niches / Very Specialized Niches[/b]
, where efficiency is not relevant or there is not much competition.
[*]
When
[b]competition’s processes are even worst[/b]
. This is a short term view that implies a big risk, but sometimes happens.
[*]
When
[b]great people doing a great job achieving great results, in spite of poorly designed processes[/b]
. This approach implies a big risk: good people usually get tired of these situations.
[/list][/quote]

The good thing is that emerging tools (as [url="http://www.flokzu.com/"]Flokzu[/url]) are democratizing business process, so companies in the 3rdand 4rdcategory can start right now, with no excuses, to improve their business processes.



References
  1. http://www.flokzu.com/
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Pritiman Panda Accepted Answer

Process design is a relative term. For any designed process the Business can succeed or fail till a logical point/checkpoint > One can never design a
[b]Once in aLifetime Process [/b]
and take a back-seat| Business is dynamic, Customers are dynamic and so are the designed processes


Bad process for one may be a Great one for the other. And a Good process today can also end up in a thrash can tomorrow


[b]Time + User Base + Biz Priorities + Surround Systems + Architecture Changes + Latest Trends + other factors > have impact on the Process Design[/b]



[b]eg: [/b]



Case 1: For a file attachment to case data/ work-objects, we can design the process that embeds the attachment to the Work Object and gets rendered each time the work instance is opened.(considering a small file having only the address details)


Case 2: Based on some future requirements and enhancements, if the file size of the attachment grows and multiple attachments come to the picture > our design will fail as it will hot the performance based on payload / launching the work object details screen


In this case > leveraging a Enterprise Content Management solution may be the ideal solution, where in the Files can be pushed to the ECM and the Work object can be made light weight > by just adding a EXM URL link to the file.


We cannot consider Design as Bad in the 1st Case : as investing on ECM at initial phase for a small file might be a costly affair
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This question and previous answers is an excellent example that only processes are not enough – it is mandatory to establish explicit and objective relationships between processes outputs and enterprise goals. In other words – results chain. See ref 1.


Thanks,


AS
References
  1. http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2013/03/result-based-logical-framework.html
Comment
The view "up" to the executive suite, represented here, is complementary to the view "down", i.e. to the ingenious managers and workers who persevere and succeed despite executive failure to define and manage enterprise goals and the results chain.

Imagine executives and front-line staff (my euphemism for "workers") all aligned around powerful BPM technology and working in the context of @Alexander's enterprise goals and results chain!

(Wasn't this the message of Fritz Lang's Metropolis? Head and hands working together, or something?)
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
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David Chassels Accepted Answer

Yes but over time as competitors focus on their processes and their user experiences so life may become tougher with success sliding away. Nothing remains constant and change is now much quicker so the focus will need to switch to people and their processes which should be seen as "assets" that need to be nurtured. The current "digital" focus may accelerate this key issue?
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Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer

We could turn this into a complicated thought exercise if we factor in
[b]business  integrity[/b]
- which is always a given in our nice discussions here, but frankly there's a blood bath out there.
Managing Founder, profluo.com
Comment
Rationalism is nice until it meets reality. And sales is often involved in said bath. : (
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
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  3. # 15
Peter Johnston Accepted Answer

Process is a child of the industrial age - Henry Ford's production line methodologies extended into everything we do.

It comes from an era when customers were easy, but product was hard.

And originally it focused purely on the production line. In many people's mind it still does.


Making a product in quantity for the least possible cost was once the key to business success.

And we created a lot of companies with cheap products but horrendous customer service -

areal disconnect between the company and the people they made the product for.


Recent disruptions seem more about finding new ways to market, than production efficiency.

Uber, for example, doesn't create better taxis, nor AirBnB better hotels.

But it is the customer process which is key to their success.


This is affecting all industries.There is a seachange in the expectation of customer service.


People expect the service part of businesses they work with to be seamless, efficient and flexible.

A pleasant telephone manner can no longer hide horribly disconnected processes and silos underneath.

With easy ways of telling others about the service they receive, bad service now has a direct effect on the bottom line too.


This means the window for companies with poorly designed processes is closing.

Not production processes, but customer facing processes.


The ones which make things happen just as the customer expects them to.

Which allows them to change their mind and automatically updates.

Which recognise this isn't a one-off sale, but part of an ongoing customer relationship.

And which make customer satisfaction a key part of spreading the word and finding new customers.


There will always be room for bad processes. If the hype is strong enough, people will want something enough to endure delays or poor service.

But the opportunity to disrupt through better customer processes has never been greater.


And as the tide raises all boats, the ones who believe process is only for the manufacturing division will come ever more unstuck.
Dynamic Process
Oxfordshire, UK
+44 (0) 1491 874368
+44 (0) 7590 677232
#dynamic_process
peter@dynamicprocess.uk
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John Morris Accepted Answer

Absolutely fascinating answers to a simple question. No one has mentioned economics, but it's lurking here in questions of monopoly and imperfect competition.


Labour historians point out that work processes were at one time self-managing, and if one goes all the way back to guilds, work processes were socially regulated.


In contrast, BPM is the ultimate managerial technology and expression of rationalism and the idea that the application of science can improve productivity. In our standard of living, we are substantially the beneficiaries of such thinking, call it Fordism or whatever you prefer.


But rationality has limits, in large part because
[u]life and work is so complicated[/u]
.


We sometimes rue that BPM is not more popular. At the same time I'm surprised sometimes that BPM is as popular as it is. Because it's difficult to automate anything that's not STP (straight thru processing).


But of course we want more than to automate STP because STP is likely
[u]the commodity part of the process[/u]
, and our
[u]best profit margins come from being able to handle exceptions[/u]
. (Designing processes for exception handling can be hugely expensive, because exceptions [1] are technical more difficulty, especially where distributed systems are concerned, [2] will dramatically escalate complexity, [3] are demanding where the insights of business analysts and managers are concerned and lastly [4] all these things keep adding costs when exception after exception are identified.)


BPM is certainly the right direction, but in the meantime, we rely on the "ingenuity" and hard work of individuals. Economists label this factor of production "tacit knowledge".


For this reason, i.e. the importance of
[u]tacit knowledge [/u]
for any work process, I submit, along with several generous writers here, that some companies thrive despite poorly designed processes because their staff have deployed efficient but tacit processes.


Unmanaged process
[u]may still be very good processes[/u]
. They are just in some sense "autonomous" from management. Pretty good bargain I'd say.
Comment
Alexander - Excellent resource posted giving an inventory of methods for mastering ways of modeling working and coordinating work.

I note that "tacit knowledge" is tagged as "managerial"; "very tacit" is also listed in relation to flocks of birds. I suggest that one can add "front-line tacit", or in old fashioned terms, "workers' shop-floor knowledge" as even bigger than the first two. I see tacit knowledge as nicely matching your iceberg process picture.
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
Tacit knowledge is only one from several coordination techniques in BPM. - see http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2014/03/coordination-techniques-in-bpm.html
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