1. Peter Schooff
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. Tuesday, November 15 2016, 09:45 AM
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Recently read someone say that today, every company is a software company. On that note, would you say every company is a process company?
Emiel Kelly Accepted Answer
Yes. Only some are just not so good at it.
Common Sensei at Procesje.nl
And most don't even know it. They just do it, remember? :D
  1. Patrick Lujan
  2. 2 weeks ago
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 2 weeks ago
Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer
If you define a business process as a coordinated collection of steps undertaken by business players to achieve a business goal, then yes (with Emiel's adage).
Managing Founder, profluo.com
Processes are "best practices" - all companies have best practices.

It's what they do until their "best practices" get replaced by "better practices".

Best practices may be:

a) undocumented (i.e. they exist only in the minds of staff),
b) off-line (i.e. policy/procedure manuals),
c) on-line,
d) in-line (i.e. core to Cases, providing background orchestration\decision support).

For complex processes, you don't get to where you are reaping the benefits of BPM unless/until you get to stage "d".
  1. http://www.kwkeirstead.wordpress.com
I would disagree with "processes are 'best practices'." Some organizations have bad processes and bad practices both and they know it and, further, they don't do anything about it for reasons of - usually - politics and, or money.
  1. Patrick Lujan
  2. 2 weeks ago
Self-resolving scenario.
The organizations with bad processes/bad practices, unless they are monopolies, presumably have bad outcomes, and eventually go out of business.
  1. karl walter keirstead
  2. 2 weeks ago
With all due respect, Walter, I abhor the term "best practices". How does one measure "best" in terms of business process outcome? For which industry? In which regulatory context? Against what competition? For how long?
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 2 weeks ago
(sigh), terminology is a problem with disciplines that cross domains - it rarely works across all domains.

There is great confusion between "goals" and "objectives" across my customer base re which is a subset of the other.

"Best practices" are pervasive in medicine.

"Case" works in healthcare and law enforcement but "Case" does not work in "incident management" software suite - you have to use "incident".
  1. karl walter keirstead
  2. 2 weeks ago
Juan J Moreno Accepted Answer
Companies, all of them, have process to run their business. Some are optimized, some are automated and some are very inefficient. But even the one-person company selling candies, has business processes (purchase process to get the candies, for example). So, looking from a rigorous point of view, every company is a process company.

Now, looking from a pragmatic point of view, although every company has process, many of them simply don't know why are these processes there, or how are they running. They simply rely on the peoples knowledge or inertia ("is has been always done that way";). Knowledge management discipline tries to formalize and extract this knowledge to make it available to the whole organization. But, until you can at least identify your key processes, their main steps and participants, I wouldn't say you are in a process company.
David Chassels Accepted Answer
Yes it's how business actually works despite "old IT".... but business would never describe themselves as such. The move to digital will put the process in the spotlight and so a new journey will begin with the adaptive software now being recognised which reflects how business really works...people and process....feeding processing systems with one version of the truth...?
Eyal Katz Accepted Answer
I guess the Q is what is a process? For me at least, every company should aspire to be a process company. Processes are how decisions should be made and projects organized. I guess this is where the term due process comes from...
I guess the Q is what is a process? For me at least, every company should aspire to be a process company. Processes are how decisions should be made and projects organized. I guess this is where the term due process comes from...

The problem is "processes" are at the operational level (good, necessary, but not sufficient )

You won't get top management to focus on "processes" - they subscribe to them, they are happy to fund them, but processes are not their focus.

Top management has a singular focus on maintaining/enhancing competitive advantage. They allocate funds to the company as part of annual budgets, they selectively sign off on promising initiatives that have good ROIs, but they expect operations to go away and do their job (i.e. manage with processes).

There is a second problem with being a "process company" and that is, in many companies, the fact that 'end-to-end' processes are few and far between.

What we see are "process fragments" that get threaded together by users, machines, software, so the operational focus has to be on projects or Cases (i..e performing work guided by background BPM, assessing progress toward Case level goals/objectives), not a focus on process fragments themselves.

An example of a real process company is a plant that makes pulp and paper, cement, beer etc.

Are you happy with 'process' as "actions that convert inputs to outputs"?

This lets us declare a process of one step as a "process", a short set of steps or process fragment as a "process" and an end-to-end sequence of steps with one converging objective as a "process".
Ah yes, the search for competitive advantage. Without paying attention to operations. : )
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 weeks ago
Competitive advantage is the aggregate of paying attention to all dimensions of a corporation (land, plant, capital, access to capital, equipment, tools, setting goals/objectives, identifying/prioritizing initiatives, funding initiatives, processes, staff, customers, suppliers, IT).
  1. karl walter keirstead
  2. 2 weeks ago
E Scott Menter Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
If the general intent is to suggest that, given a choice between two organizations with the same goals, one might expect the group with better processes to have more success: absolutely. But I'd say the same about a lot of isolated variables: the company with the best sales team is likely to come out ahead. The company with a more attractive web presence is likely to be victorious. The company with the most engaged employees. With the best Christmas party. With the most generous 401(k).

But mostly, the company that employs me. :) :P
http://www.bplogix.com/images/icon-x-medium.png Scott
RE “terminology is a problem with disciplines that cross domains -” Strongly disagree. Terminology, done correctly, is the solution in many cases.

Thanks to Eyal to raise this.

As I wrote in http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.com.es/2015/10/concepts-crisis-in-it-and-sister-domains.html , there are two viewpoints on business processes and, hence, two definitions of them.

Definition 1 is an external observer (e.g. an BPM consultant) viewpoint - business process is a collection of related, structured (coordinated) activities (or tasks) that produce a specific service or product (serve a particular goal) for a particular customer or customers.

Definition 2 is an internal viewpoint of a business owner - business process is an explicitly defined coordination for guiding the purposeful enactment of business activity flows.

If a company does everything in a crappy reactive way (oh, dear, we are out of stock of some components and we must order them immediately by using process ...) then it will be perfectly “process-company” in accordance with the definition 1. Shame on us, the process community.

Only companies which follow the definition 2 are “process-companies”.

Thus, let us agree on the definition of “business process” (preferable as #2) and provide a set of simple criteria for any company to run a self-assessment of being “process-company” or not.

Re: "Terminology, done correctly, is the solution in many cases." - I see your point as regards BPM terminology but I was trying the address application level terminology in response to Bodgan not liking "best practices" when this term is absolutely pervasive in healthcare.

The reason my group goes to great lengths to put out "CiverMed'", "CiverSupplier", "CiverIncident" as individual products is that customers expect to see "patient", "order", "incident" everywhere. Aside from minor widgets embedded in these products, they are all identical. If the literature were to be made generic so that the terminology would be aligned, no one would relate to the apps.

Your Definition 1 initially sounds like it would apply to Job Shop Production, where, in theory, each order for each customer is a 'special' but if the work is structured properly, common sequences can be identified with the result that efficiency and effectiveness improves. Based on the definitions, I would put Job Shop under Definition 2.

I need to read your article - looks very interesting and well thought out.
  1. karl walter keirstead
  2. 2 weeks ago
I also do not like "best practices" because in the IT domain they are applied without proper analysis of the context. I, personally, prefer "good practices", e.g. "good clinical practices".
  1. Dr Alexander Samarin
  2. 2 weeks ago
Fascinating article Alexander. I note that you do not use the term ontology, which is certainly the subject of the article. Perhaps this is because the "O"-word is not likely to entice any paying entities to invest (in sales terms "there's never a business case for infrastructure") . . . nevertheless the work must be done. If we don't speak the same language, how can we possible accomplish anything? As you say, "worlds collide", er "domains".
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 weeks ago
John Morris Accepted Answer
The Phil 101 question is relevant. If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, is there still a sound? Or, if managers don't see themselves as managing processes, and don't care that all value chains are de facto processes, is it still a process company?

Rhetorically no. Theoretically yes. Practically yes. Because if processes, formal or informal, are not how work shows itself in an organization, exactly how does that work get done? By magic?

Bad management is still management. Blood circulated prior to the discovery of the circulatory system. Processes just "are", whether we admit it or not.

That fact that this is even a debate hints at the question of tacit work. Corporate boards and executive suite occupants may be happy to manage everything except what's inside the "black box" of operations, i.e. where the value is actually created.

I recently searched Google for "annual reports" and "business process management" and combinations thereof. The IBM Annual Report references lots on business process. Almost no non-IT vendor organization does. It was quite telling. We have a long ways to go.
"if processes, formal or informal, are not how work shows itself in an organization, exactly how does that work get done? By magic?"

It's hard to imagine how work can be done in the absence of processes - staff would purposefully have to try to minimize effectiveness and efficiency. The rate of advancement toward goals/objectives would decrease.

"how work shows itself" is important.

If the organization is involved, say, in the manufacture of custom equipment and has multiple orders in the works, it becomes obvious that some means of prioritizing work steps is needed (assemblies running late need to be accelerated, customers can change the priority of orders, change requests can require partial dis-assembly and rework, assemblies that fail at QA points need special treatment).
  1. karl walter keirstead
  2. 2 weeks ago
Max J. Pucher Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
Many companies try to drive their business with processes ... and do a lot of damage while doing it. One of the key reasons is that BPM is used for cost reduction by staff elimination. It kills much of the unique value a business actually has in its people and replaces it by mediocre standardised processes that in the numbers have less errors because they simply exclude all non-standard services.

Every company ... even manufacturing ... should be goal-driven companies!
Processes do not achieve goals, they just complete a process regardless.
Much that a process engine does can be handled by a simple checklist.

But yes, BPM is more of an application development environment ... is that good? No.
Whilst your comments do have relevance we have moved on in capability. First all outcomes are achieved by people (including machines built by people) and process. Yes a lot of the tasks are formal indeed may be subject to compliance but as you indicate there is also the informal but still a task within a process. This needs to recognised in end to end process outcomes but there must be the record who created the new data input and the only measurement might be time to ensure there is some accountability Formal or informal tasks are joined up making a process with outcomes and yes in built checks ensure the outcomes are transparent. Change is inevitable again where informal this should be recognised allowing people to use their creativity to achieve best outcome contributing to the end goals. BPM covers all this as should the supporting software...which has to be "good"....?
  1. David Chassels
  2. 1 week ago
Not sure about . . . . "BPM covers all this"

Because. many BPM run-time environments lack core capabilities such as R.A.L.B.(auto-resource allocation, leveling and balancing) and F.O.M.M. (Figure of Merit Matrices).

You need RALB (from CPM, mid-to-late 1960s) to manage work across Cases and, in respect of FOMM (Rand Corp, 1960's), this is the only practical approach I know of that accommodates non-subjective decision-making at Cases.

Unless of course, we agree to blend in R.A.L.B. and F.O.M.M as "part of BPM". Then, by all means we can say "BPM covers all this" but the likely timing is 'when pigs fly'.

I am happy to "manage Cases using BPM, RALB, FOMM" where the focus is not on processes but on Case goals/objectives and work and workload are being managed across Cases as well as within Cases. (very few of us work on one and only one Case at a time).

Anyway, IMO it's a stretch to say you are "managing' processes" in the extreme scenario where 90% of the work is ad hoc unless you admit to an ad hoc step being a "process of one step". This puts all work on a level playing field.

For those who have a problem with this notion it becomes difficult at a practical level to have one environment where you don't care which end of structured/unstructured you are at for a particular Case (i.e. 95/5 of 5/95).
Sorry, mid 1950's for CPM
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