If you really want a long-running process, write it in fortran or cobol, obfuscate the code, make sure your whole business runs on it, and then lay off the staff that wrote it. That process might live 40-50 years...
Long-lasting is a relative term of course, but if you produce a process that is logical, intuitive, and thorough (in that it reliably produces the results required without much hassle for the users), no one is going to complain about it, and it will get left alone until requirements change. However, the defining factor for the shelf-life of any given process is how often an organization changes its requirements.
But serious, why care about long lasting processes? We don't all live in 6 sigma world. I care more about long lasting business with happy customers and earning some bucks to pay for the lady.
So agree with Ian. That can even mean that you have processes (or actually process designs) that can be thrown away after you executed them once.
As stated before; BPM is not about having processes. You just have them. It's about implementing and steering processes that deliver useful results.
My experience has been long-lasting business processes are supported from the top down as well as the bottom up. A major company I recently worked for had business processes, from supply chain to product development to sales and marketing, that were mandated for use by the CEO. There was no issue of whether the processes were used or not - it was basically a condition of employment. With this mandate in place long enough, it eventually becamepart of the culture. Of course each business and manager added their own needs and personality, but it was incredibly enabling to have this hurdle cleared from the beginning. Most of my experience has required a lot of time and effort convincing teams of the value of solid processes, and even then it's likely they disappeared when the next manager had less affinity for them or wanted to start over with their own techniques. One of the reasons I originally transitioned from business process consulting to line leadership was the ownership of the processes, allowing me to at least ensure their use across my span of control.
The key to a long lasting process is a bad loop design - this way that annoying token never dies! Actually, I do have a major customer with several hundred of thousand old process instances not terminated - they are still open in some database installed on an old server (no redundancy, because of cost cuts!) and the guys are afraid to just simply terminate them... they sometimes complain that the database is a bit slow, but still okay :-)
Jokes aside, I'd very much like to flip the issue around and build on what Emiel said: why do we need stable processes? Why is this natural? If this our way to cope with complexity and dynamism?
We should build-to-change, not build-to-last - because the only clearly lasting thing is change.
What is the key to building a process that "lasts" (as opposed to a supporting "long running processes", e.g. tracking the life-cycle of farm animals over a year or more)?
All good answers above, summarized as "a process that does a decent job compared to the cost of building it, and is not unaffordably difficult to change".
Although I suppose one shouldn't really care that a given process is long lasting; the process construction is now a sunk cost. And the value of keeping a process as-is is only in comparison to the cost of building a new one.
I believe we will have lasting processes because
(a) they are really good at what they do and/or
(b) we are being held hostage to technical complexity that inevitably grows over time and/or
(c) there's no business case for refactoring
So long lasting processes are likely inevitable, but not necessarily desirable "as such".
Hi all !
The key factors for a long and lasting process for me, stands in basically three points:
- "Art of state" in the process design and in his execution that will eliminate or mitigate the needs for changes or improvements;
- The needs of the busines and market that will demand or not the the termination of current process and a new process.
- An stable environment that ensures the continuity of the inputs and the guidance (rules, politics, laws,strategy, etc) that will ensure the execution of the process as designed and executed.
I would also like to iterate, Long-Lasting is a relative term - usefulness or importance depends upon the scenario.
For a Business which is Dynamic - A long lasting process act as a limitation with minimal scope for improvement. To meet the market demands and customer experience - a short lived but impactful process will suit the purpose. To summarize : For a Dynamic Business involving Rich Customer Experience and dealing with the latest trends in the market - Adaptable, Impactful and Flexible process is a necessity. If it is Long lasting process - it means Business is stagnant - Time for Change. Example : for a Contact Center kind of application, a long lasting process will be a demerit - as it needs to be addressed withing AHT(average handling time). It may be short and sweet but should serve the purpose
For Business following the Monotonous routine job/activities which wont change for years to come or limited customer experience or back end batch kind of activities (down stream jobs) or for operations where changing a process is like opening a PANDORA Box (involving multiple stake holders, historical records, multiple product stacks, high cascading effect) --> It can be continued with the Long Lasting process with hardly any change to the process, improvement or ways of working. Long Lasting processess are mostly found in : legacy kind of systems where availability of people with specific skillset and maintenance becomes dificult. It can be actually termed as "STILL LIVING WITH THE PROCESS" which finally ends up in a long running mode and ends up getting decommissioned.
On a lighter note, these days, it is tough to find a Long lasting process, with Agile and Scrum kind of approaches - even living with the same process in the Sprint 2 becomes difficult!! A process which survives from Sprint 1 to Sprint n can be termed as Long Lasting :-)
Keys : Nature of Business | Kind of Process | Defined Age Limit for the Process | Flexible/Agility Factor | What's Next for the Process | Surround Systems | Answer to the Iterative Question : Is the Process addressing all the business demands and we are happy ? If No - Skip Process
First of all, I agree that a process that survives but remaining unchanged for a long period of time is NOT a good thing.
Processes should evolve as businesses and user’s needs do.
Said that, it is better to have a process and use it for a long time, than to have a process never used, or used and discarded too soon.
In this scenario, I find that lasting processes are the ones that are “flexible”. By “flexible” I mean that the user has huge freedom when interacting with the process. It is not a fixed route that every process instance has to strictly follow, it is not a set of fixed and required fields, and it is not always the same set of users participating. It’s a process that includes several variations in order to attend real world, changing, needs and unforeseen events.
Companies used to be made up of physical things. Changing each of these was expensive. So we invented methodologies to make sure the decisions were slow, considered and hierarchical with levels of responsibility and control.
This marginalised change - static companies were the norm and change was an exceptional event. But the fact your company didn't change much didn't matter, because no-one else did either.
Digitisation brought about a fundamental change and the subsequent waves of democratised knowledge, social, mobile and data have compounded them.
Think of a newspaper. Released daily or weekly with the news set - if the facts change the newspaper can't. Both timing and format are fixed - like it or not Mr Customer. Now we have news websites. Updated every few seconds, changing priorities of stories, updating content, adding quotations, even reader feedback and tailored to preference.
Buyers work at this pace. They see in seconds what is going on in their market - news releases, product launches, updates and customer feedback. Retailers mirror this, with dynamic pricing and feedback systems to manage inventory against profit, ride what's hot and take advantage of events.
In a pixel and byte world, change is normal and static is the exception. If you are not moving faster than the market, you are falling behind.
So the most important part of any process is the re-iteration loop. The one which takes the rich data delivered by every transaction and feeds it back, hopefully enriched by wider data, to make the next iteration better. Ideally you have a scientific approach of hypothesis and test, hypothesis and test - a constant round of AB testing and winner stays on evolution.
The idea of a long-lasting process comes from the old era where static was normal. A get it right once mentality which makes the mistaken assumption that customers are constant, supplier and manufacturing capabilities are constant and employee knowledge and capability is constant. None of them are.
We should be flagging up long lasting processes as problems. Say "whyis nothing driving this forward - why is it stuck?" Things only stay static if you are in a backwater. Moving it on could be our next source of competitive advantage. Because competitive advantage itself is now transient...
"It is almost impossible for a company to call it correctly every time. What matters though, when you have been taken by surprise or something negative occurs, is what you do next. The best firms look candidly at what happened, figure out how to do it better next time and move on. A bit like surfing a wave - you might fall off and find yourself embarassedly paddling back to shore, but great surfers get back on board. So too with great companies. They move from wave to wave of competitive advantages, trying not to stay with one too long because it will become exhausted, always looking for the next one."
Prof Rita Gunther McGrath - The End of Competitive Advantage