Ok, I was going to write this even before I saw that it was inspired by an SAP quote, which only makes it better...
"Are Business Processes in SAP one of the biggest obstacles to innovation?" is the correct framing of the question, and then the answer is most definitely, yes. One of the greatest vacuums of innovation and money was applying SAP to business operations that were assumed to be static.
That is by far the single most resounding critic to SAP I've ever heard.
SAP is the epitome of ossified business processes in an aging ERP carcass!
...and of course she is painfully wrong... processes DO exist and thrive even in the most creative environments... what is killing innovation is the mind-numbing approach to making processes explicit in their most painfully slow and rigid incarnations (PDF verbatims, SoW's, hundreds of pages of legally-worded policies), called Standard Operating Procedures.
I sincerely cannot understand what she meant. I just found out a bigger irony than having said that while being the CIO of SAP - she is also the CPO of SAP...
Bonus: count in her role description how many times "CPO" sits next to "innovate"
You know, I have heard this argument for 40 years now and it's crap. Programmers typically make this lament. What is needed are bona fide Systems Analysts who are in tune with the business (something that is in short supply in corporate America).
Whenever a pressing problem is presented, it is given to the programmers with little specifications or explanations as to why it is necessary (its business purpose). Consequently, they start coding well before they understand the problem and then go through iterations until the wear out the end-user.
When you ask programmers why they work this way, they commonly say, "We do not have time to do things right." Translation: "We have plenty of time to do things wrong."
Hi all !
Business processes are the biggest challenge for any organization once They depend of the execution of business process to reach certain objectives and execute their strategies.
No excellence in business process execution, no sustainable value generated for customer and no sustainable good results for organization.
But, I include organizational culture as the main challenge for any organization.
Because of these points, the organizations needs a Management of Business Process ( BPM ) and Change Management to successfuly accomodate the changes required in any transformation and or innovation.
The innovation itself requires a business process, but it need to be well designed and managed.
Uninspired thinking is the biggest obstacle to innovation. There's certainly no lack of lack of inspiration in many business processes, especially (though not exclusively) those that have been around for a while. The "process improvement" discipline suffers from the same malady: a 3% reduction in product defects might be a good and valuable thing, but it hardly represents true innovation.
Innovation may be implemented through process, but the latter arises from the former. It's our job in the BPM community to make sure that the technology exists to turn a truly innovative concept into a robust, working process that brings that idea to fruition.
I would say mostly "NO" except for old style process managment approaches and technology. I think the right kind of emergent processing tool could actually increase innovation. There are process capabilitiies that let you "do it; try it & fix it". What a better way to try out innovative ideas. For those process technologies that only support BPMN process models and don't allow for emergent behavior would inhibit innovation. There are also hybrid technologies that do both. So the answer depends on method and technology.
Certainly if you are using frozen applications with no explciti change capability like old style package, you have an innovation problem
Agree with Ian. He mentioned only one enabling factor, i.e. ability for machine-added-execution; other enabling factors are:
No from me. Organisations are simply a collection of business processes so you can't blame processes. The biggest obstacles to innovation are corporate culture and/or management.
Business Processes irrespective of the platform and technology, are defined and developed by organizations to streamline the operations/business functionalities and with a futuristic vision of the Company.
If the Business Process Developed is becoming an Obstacle to Innovation - then there was something that went wrong and defined incorrectly in the Step 1 or the Right Tool/Product was not adopted which is forcing the business to live and think within the boundaries defined by the tool.
Innovation is just not limited to harnessing new features that are in Market Trend and building everything from scratch. Even making the existing AS-IS solution to align with the "Innovation Definition", outlined by business by building custom workable solutions and code fix is also an innovative approach.
Well, in reading this quote, my attention is drawn to the word "aging." Aging software (or legacy systems) and their associated business processes can indeed be a deterrent to innovation, especially if the organization is driven by a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality and/or budgetary restrictions. In government settings, that is the precise mentality and budgets are not only limited, but also scrutinized. Can you find creative solutions within legacy systems/software and limited budget scenarios? Yes! But what you'll more likely face are legislative requirements or restrictions that force processes to be clunky and there's not much you can do about it except suggest improvements.
In my opinion, it can be a big obstacle to innovation, same as aging software, we live in a time of constant change, if business processes do not go through the cycle of continues improvement you will be left behind. One clue for businesses that have this issue of not constantly improving and reviewing their business processes is the issue with resistance and denial (Self-awareness). A company that would believe their processes are the best and they would not need constant review is businesses with no self-awareness.
Business need to continue the cycle of continues improvement, as software ages and become obsolete so do processes and by not identifying this you become resistance to change.
ERP has been one the biggest cons inflicted on businesses and I am ashamed to say my profession (CA) bears much responsibility for not really understanding business needs. Businesses are now faced with inflexible and unfriendly systems that have left that gap between how business really works and these clunky legacy systems where the books might "square" but reality is little knowledge exists of how information is actually created.
The biggest obstacle is now how to add that "digital" flexibility and people empowerment without the opening up the can of worms in legacy! This puts the new driver into the BPM supporting software whereby legacy must be the slave to the process requirements. To be able track with full audit trail in creation of all information will effectively remove need for double entry and give real comfort that reports accurately reflect business activity. So RIP ERP......the future look good....