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  1. Peter Schooff
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. Tuesday, January 24 2017, 09:50 AM
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When you digitize a process, how does that process change?
Processes can be described in narrative terms, or as a flow graph, or both.

If they are "communicated' only on paper, unless the process is very straightforward, you get little orchestration and governance because people can't be bothered to refer to the process. Not much better if your process is on-line (digital)

When a process is in-line, a Case (digital) environment can cause steps to post to the right people in the right sequence, at appropriate times (when one step is reported to be complete, the next--in-line step(s) post to the attention of the right people).

If there is a good fit between the UI and the users, you get orchestration, governance (providing you set up rules) and you get sustainability.

The key to success with in-line digital processes is to make it easier for users to log into the system to plan, monitor and control their work than not to log into the system.

So, the difference between an ordinary process and an in-line digital process is orchestration, governance, sustainability, leading to improved efficiency, effectiveness and better outcomes.
References
  1. http://www.kwkeirstead.wordpress.com
Comment
Another benefit of a digital process is you can build up a history that improves the quality of decision making at steps along instances of process templates and provides data that can be a) mined to forward work/outcomes and b) source process improvement.
  1. karl walter keirstead
  2. 2 months ago
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 1
Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer
A digital process, when it breaks, hurts faster and less costly.
Managing Founder, profluo.com
Comment
@Bogdan, sure we agree that digital processes must be designed and implemented properly to avoid automatic generation of damage.
  1. Dr Alexander Samarin
  2. 2 months ago
@Alex, I was not referring to bad processes in my initial response, but I think you have a point that should be addressed. A process that breaks a lot of stuff automatically without proper safeguards, alerts, soft crashes etc is an inherently bad process. And as discussed here on several occasions, digitization means augmentation of results, either good or bad.
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 2 months ago
An equally critical non-digital malfunctioning service takes much longer to be discovered and fixed, therefore causing deeper damage.
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 2 months ago
Re "less costly" - not always. A malfunctioning service may break many running instances automatically.
  1. Dr Alexander Samarin
  2. 2 months ago
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 2
Different BPM stakeholders (top management, line managers, super-users, direct-users, customers, IT staff, consultants, etc.) see different changes between digital vs regular processes ,and appreciate them differently.

For example, direct users like that automation eliminates “mechanical” work (like moving files from one place to another). Customers likes the traceability of digital processes (usually condensed as a “progress bar”). Top management like the objective performance monitoring generated by digital processes.

I, personally, like that any digital process is the same for all BPM stakeholders thus considerably reducing undesired complexity of an enterprise in comparison with regular (illustrative or implicit) processes . Of course, various viewpoints may be applied to show digital processes for different BPM stakeholders.

Thanks,
AS
Comment
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 3
John Morris Accepted Answer
A process is a process is a process.

So what is the meaning of "digital process" as opposed to "regular process"? Digital process must imply "automated", i.e a work process which is supported by software automation.

So in turn then, what is the meaning of "automated"? And can we learn anything from the meaning of automation other than "people were comparatively unproductive in the past because they didn't have software"?

@Karl makes a great start with "orchestration". Orchestration is much easier with BPM- or digital-based processes. Think of electronic ordering; automatic matching of purchase orders (an EDI 850 transaction set) speeds commerce along nicely. Certainly order management happened in manual offices. But now order management is so much easier.

So if automation makes process work easier, we need to ask about the business meaning of "easier"? "Easier" needs to be quantified.

Digital processes can make specific business operations easier because a process may become . . .

1) less expensive, maybe even by orders of magnitude
2) even possible, that is to say some business functions may not have been technically feasible without automation.

In all cases concerning digitalization, new ways of conducting business are only desirable because of the dramatically lower cost of the "new" (one needs "dramatically lower" to balance inertia and the cost of digitalization itself). And lower cost, or better economics, doesn't just mean you can afford to do something now. It can also change what managers do. The business semantics of work are a given, but automation economics dramatically changes the inventory of normal business functions which are available to executives. The sequence of causality is this: new automation technology --> possibility of lower costs --> new vocabulary of work --> new digital processes.

So when you embark on digitalization, you must consider your responsibility to master a new vocabulary of business. But be prepared for surprises. Learn the meaning of "emergent behaviour". Learn to live with "radical transparency" (+@Alex). Learn to "fail fast" (+@Bogdan). And acknowledge that your business model might, uh, "transform"!
Comment
@Boris, your suggestion concerning references is an excellent one. In the sales game clever allusions don't count for much -- as your experience suggests, they may even be counter-productive! Heaven forfend I should ever cause a client shame!!!. Although one doesn't want to be dry and boring either! It's nice to be able to engage in dialogue that creates a fun sense of community, a dialogue that even enlarges that sense of community. As you suggest Shakespeare is universal (although given current cultural trends, maybe not so much). Football is becoming universal I think.
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 months ago
@John, all shame on my stupid head that I m not always able to follow your exquisite allusions! Alas, I m not a native speaker.. Though, from a personal experience, I know for sure that clients are not always able to follow our refined reasoning. For instance, when I introduce too much of rigorous math into a project outline, it often scares clients, rather than attracts. I ve noticed that it is often useful to add a reference to the source on each exclusive arguments in order that colleagues notice them properly and appreciate. I bet, a reference to Shakespeare works in all times for every audience and will always look fresh and outstanding.
  1. Boris Zinchenko
  2. 2 months ago
Hi Boris, thanks for your kind comment! As for the use of repetition, it's a sort of idiomatic reference to a phrase by American writer Gertrude Stein, who said "a rose is a rose is a rose" (which in turn, according to Wikipedia, refers to Shakespeare's "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".) You could say the whole thing is a sort of statement about ontology -- regardless of what one calls "process", a process is still a process. For me the naming of things is important. I find in the sales business that business is sometimes lost because we forget what we are selling! As for having used the phrase in the original note, I appreciate your question very much, because the use of idiomatic expressions, while adding colour to writing (a reference to "ontology" is almost guaranteed to lose readers) also reduces comprehensibility in international contexts.
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 months ago
@John, great outline. I suppose the first line has a misprint repeating "is a process" twice. Or maybe it has a hidden sense, which I didnt appreciate..
  1. Boris Zinchenko
  2. 2 months ago
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 4
David Chassels Accepted Answer
Agree with Karl on the orchestration benefits for users. Let's remember digital related to business operations is about putting people first to think through (BPM) and deliver (DBP) a supporting adaptive software solution. What this does close the gap that has existed for decades between people and the inside out driven largely silos based systems. Regular processes are often a horrible mixture of spreadsheet, off line data bases and unrecorded activity where thing can and often do go wrong.....plenty of examples around ....!

Another benefit digital brings is that the process knowledge is transparent and thus owned by the business. The benefit to the users becomes empowerment as real time reporting of relevant data helps both users and a need for less "management". Once the new digital delivery is running it becomes easier to fix / update processes as required.
Comment
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 5
David

What I find perplexing re

" ...close the gap that has existed for decades between people and the inside out driven largely silos based systems"

is this problem was addressed and solved in the mid-1950's within the construction industry with CPM, PERT and innovative software systems such as RAMPS from CEIR?

In construction, you have goals/objectives, multiple pools of scarce resources, there are processes/process maps/compilers to roll out the process to a run time environment, efficient non-subjective reporting mechanisms, sophisticated predictive analytics, good software.

I suppose the reason is that construction uses a matrix organizational structure as opposed to a functional organizational structure, the goals/objectives are always clearly defined and everyone is totally focused on work/workload and outcomes.

Given the wealth of experience/know how and success stories, why is it taking so long in general business for operational staff to understand that all of what they do is a process and that efficient ways of managing processes (once-through or multi-instance) have been around for 60 years. (CPM - Polaris Program 1957, EI Dupont de Nemours; PERT DOD 1962) ?

See "CPM, anyone?" (published 2013/07) at

http://wp.me/pzzpB-r2
References
  1. http://www.kwkeirstead.wordpress.com
Comment
@John.. Thanks . . .my competitive advantage re CPM is that I was there. I developed the CPM system for the Churchill Falls Power Project (largest civil engineering project in North America at the time).
  1. karl walter keirstead
  2. 2 months ago
+1@Karl for your historical references to project management and automation (not just here too). There is a lot we can learn from the history of technology and automation -- which is an odd thing to contemplate given that IT is ideologically so very much about "the new".
  1. John Morris
  2. 2 months ago
@David +1 for stressing that BPM is largely impracticable without DBP for the simple reason that most users work on more than one Case at a time, even on multiple instances of the same process within a Case.

Part of what we call "orchestration' comes from BPM logic, then another part from auto-resource leveling and balancing of steps across users (ie.. RALB or Three-Tier Scheduling).

See "Three-Tier Scheduling and why you need it for ACM/BPM"
http://wp.me/pzzpB-Ck
  1. karl walter keirstead
  2. 2 months ago
I have found that engineers get it (the business logic) quickly and maybe in the construction industry they are able to get their way. Business and IT have talked different languages and until this changes that gap will exist....hence the importance of BPM the supporting DBP enabling that orchestration ...?
  1. David Chassels
  2. 2 months ago
@Karl, excellent observation! I suspect that many old style managers are simply hostile to process approach because it breaks their classical business vision. When they see familiar routine operations mapped as a schema on paper or, worse more, in a computer program (oh my, what it is?!) they somehow think that a process expert has stolen and insulted their most sacred internal knowledge.
  1. Boris Zinchenko
  2. 2 months ago
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 6
A couple of extra thoughts.

1. Maybe relevant article about “productivity paradox” from http://www.forbes.com/sites/roysmythe/2015/07/17/health-cares-current-productivity-paradox/#32f6a0f727c2
“…the protracted time it took to diffuse the technology, the problem of trying to utilize the new technology alongside the pre-existing technology, and the misconception that the new technology should be used in the same context as the older one.”
2. A regular (illustrative) process is often an addition to the current enterprise way of working. A digital process is like a tip of the digital iceberg (data, rules, roles, documents, etc. in digital form).

Thanks,
AS
Comment
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 7
Boris Zinchenko Accepted Answer
Digital processes differ from regular processes in methodology and metadata. Every business domain has own set of fundamental process elements and their relations. In case of regular processes, elements and relations are more (but not entirely) human-centric. In case of digital processes, elements and relations are more (but not entirely) machine-centric. The border between two is very subtle.

There are hundredths of process methodologies developed to date. Many more methodologies are emerging now, some for digital processes, some for regular processes and some pretending being universal for both worlds. There is no ideal methodology for all processes, no matter digital or not. Ideally, own targeted methodology should be developed for each business domain. In practice, narrow methodologies are often misused and generalized improperly outside of their intended domains. This may happen across digital to human ridge or on other, less significant boundaries. In all cases, it is enough to follow proper methodology and guidelines to achieve consistent models and smooth execution. Division for digital and not digital looks not so crucial in this respect.

In practice, it is unlikely that somebody will ever encounter today a process, which is not digital in literal sense. It must be a workplace and a worker entirely isolated from computer, phone or other means of digital communications for a prolonged time. Therefore, most of processes in modern world are digitized to more or less extent even in poorest and less developed countries.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e6/Robinson.Crusoe.island.jpg
References
  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robinson_Crusoe
Comment
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 8
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