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On Tuesday the question was if we need a new name for processes, so to finish out this week with the focus on processes: in your experience, what do companies most often get wrong about processes today?

Thursday, August 04 2016, 09:43 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 04 2016, 09:55 AM - #Permalink
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    That they think a process is the same as a workflow (the steps in a certain order).
     
    But that is just a part of process. That is why I think it is better to talk about a "performing process"
     
    Or in normal people language: "What do we need and do to deliver what we promise?"
     
    And then a set of things to do for a case (workflow) is probably needed.
     
    But also other enablers like information (on execution, managing and improvement level), people, supporting stuff, a way of managing etc.
     
    All together they define if you are able to do what you promise. And that's a little more than some boxes and arrows.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 04 2016, 10:00 AM - #Permalink
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    What they most of the time get wrong is failing to understand it's all about improving the skills and capacity of organizing and see this as a strategic capability. See also the reactions (Charles Rosenbury) at Linkedin on sharing the previous BPM.COM question:

    Charles:

    "Rebranding a "pile of horse manure" into a "fudge brownie" does not change either of them. A CEO should NOT CARE about a process. If your CEO cares about processes, you have a more serious problem. If you are trying to sell a CEO on process work, you are making the wrong sale. The CEO should care about whether his strategy is working. Somewhere down in the lower levels, people should be figuring out the best process. Only when processes either don't work, or provide an opportunity for significant ROI, should they be mentioned at all at the senior level"

    Me:

    "A CEO should -at the very minimum- support other layers regarding process; after all it's about executing the strategy. Clearing up the middle management fog is a big part of that IMO. The CEO needs to focus on the big WHY, and this basic question needs to cascade all the way down to whatever activity is being conducted to execute & support the strategy. But that's not how a lot of people look at process (or BPM for that matter) :-)."

    Charles:

    I suppose there is some difference depending on the size of the company. But I would maintain that if the CEO is really caring about the process. Something is wrong. The CEO should care that process is done right. In other words, he should care about the capability of process improvement as a strategic capability. That is different than caring about the process.

    Ah, there it is and I then agreed ont the "he should care about the capability of process improvement as a strategic capability"

    Voila. That's what a lot of companies get wrong IMO.

     

    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Walter, good dialogue with Charles. He is saying that CEOs should not care about process directly. This is the same as saying that CEOs should not care directly about the work of business. I call this "magical thinking"; processes don't come into existence by fiat. Certainly the role of the CEO concerns the management and strategy of the entity in business space. But an organization only exists because of the value it creates, and value creation is the by-product of work or process. If work and process is a black box to the CEO, then I question the viability of the entity.
    • karl walter keirstead
      more than a month ago
      OK, lets say "CEOs should not directly care about processes"

      They clearly have to be supportive of processes, otherwise the operational folks would never get the infrastructure or manhours to build/maintain processes.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 04 2016, 10:15 AM - #Permalink
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    Not taking a holistic approach, diving straight into a specific solution and not taking a step back up and out of the weeds as to how it's done now, why and what it is they're actually trying to accomplish, achieve.

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    • Emiel Kelly
      more than a month ago
      That's indeed what is going wrong in the approach towards "managing by process" quite often.

      Answering "simple" questions like

      "What problems do we wanna solve for our customers"
      "What process results are needed for that?"

      And then dive in a little deeper/
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 04 2016, 10:49 AM - #Permalink
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    I think Patrick on the button. Question is why has business lost that simple step by step view? Yes I put blame on IT failure to address the people needs. The power of processing systems being imposed on people with management believing the promises from vendors that all will be well; ERP the biggest culprit....! Now the light is being switched on as digital focuses on the user with recognition this requires a refocus to outside in which forces the step by step discipline = rise of BPM?

    As I have said before business and accountants in particular must regain control to bring back assurance not just that there is a clear path on just how data is created but also bringing empowerment to all users for a better experience. This includes active participation in contributing to new ways the process can achieve better outcomes.

    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      That right there, that question - "Why has business lost that simple step by step view?" should be the next BPM question of the day. I think it's because 1) business thinks they can do technology just because they're the ones (usually) who pay for it these days and, 2) in the course of doing the buying they're listening to the vendor, the integrator and the consultant as opposed to their own IT. Cart, horse, dogs, tails and all that jazz.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 04 2016, 10:57 AM - #Permalink
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    The technology of business process is a huge opportunity waiting to be discovered.

    What's wrong ("wrong" is so harsh!) is that business process is not seen as something special.

    All too often business process is defined in a way that is difficult to distinguish from much of the MBA curriculum.

    Sure there are governance issues, e.g. who owns O2C, "order to cash" end-to-end? But the fact that there is specific meaning and content to process, and specific meaning and content especially to business process technology, is not generally accepted.

    Business process is too often a mantra for good feelings about being systematic at work. Sort of like "excellence". And then we miss the opportunity and our practices devolve to folk management culture. Not a bad thing for sure, but not the best. And instead of rationality and transparency we have various sub-optimal atlernatives, ranging from muddling through to managerial heroism.

    So, there's a world to win. And a thousand processes to earn. And business models to make explicit as the sum of live business processes. Whereever business processes hide, in ERP, in situational apps, explicitly in modeled BPM, they are all waiting for management to step up.

    • Emiel Kelly
      more than a month ago
      Business Processes aren't something special because every company has them.

      But taking them a little serious and making them do what you promise and solve your customer's problem; that can make you special.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Emiel -- LOL every company has them. Then again, every company has accounting. And accounting is treated as something special. Just like accounting, there is specific intellectual content about process that can be managed. Managers should be about managing. Right now process is too often honoured in name only -- but actual mastery of the contents of the black box is missing.
    • Emiel Kelly
      more than a month ago
      You and accounting.... But that is a very clear thing. But (back to previous discussion) having processes in general is nothing special because it doesn't say anything.

      Every company delivers products/services or solves problem. By process. And that is when it starts to make more sense. Bring it back to what an organization is really doing. And yes that is executing processes. And yes you can do it good or not so good. And in that last case you visit BPM.com ;-)
    • karl walter keirstead
      more than a month ago
      Weekend plumbers learn very quickly that process is about doing the right things (fixing the problem without causing additional problems), the right way (logical sequence), using the right resources (not themselves, not a visegrip in lieu of a proper wrench), at the right time (not over the weekend) and obtaining good outcomes (not ending up having to turn the water off and waiting until Monday for the plumber to come over).

      So, why can't CEOs see that processes provide efficiency and make important contributions to effectiveness?

      It is true that each company has business processes and true as well that all companies have "best practices" (it's what they are doing currently until they take action to improve these).

      The way to get the ear of the CEO, in my view, is to get the message across that processes impact efforts to sustain or improve competitive advantage (something they do care about)..

      Putting an organization's resources to best use also impacts competitive advantage so we should not say that processes are the only route to improved competitive advantage.

      I think we can say that processes are core to operational initiatives and that CEOs need to be supportive of process infrastructure, process resources, process technology and process culture.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Walter, plumbing is a good analogy for business in many ways. But is the "way to get the ear of the CEO . . . to get the message across that processes impact efforts to sustain or improve competitive advantage"?

      Doesn't everybody shilling some consulting flavour of the month say exactly that? Or some equally critical corporate objective?

      How is process different than, as I put it, most of what constitutes the MBA curriculum?

      An outcome is not a reason to buy anything, if it's not clear that what you're buying is uniquely causative of the outcome.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      BTW Walter, the plumbing analogy flows well with me; I did a fair amount of it years ago. Plumbing has changed a lot though, as you likely know, with plastic pipe and the lead-free solder that's much more difficult to work with. Technological change in the field of PPM - plumbing process management. : )
    • karl walter keirstead
      more than a month ago
      Re: "An outcome is not a reason to buy anything, if it's not clear that what you're buying is uniquely causative of the outcome."

      Seems to me that an outcome along the lines of "increase sales by 25% by 2017" is a reason to buy something that makes a significant contribution toward that outcome.

      I don't see why one purchase has to be uniquely causative.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Customer pains or customer objectives (realized as outcomes) should drive sales. Because otherwise there is no sale, for sure.

      But if what I'm selling isn't capable of delivering, then why are we even talking? Everyone talks about ROI or faster-time-to-market; they are now generic benefits. Higher probability wins happen when we tie our specific features and capabilities to your specific circumstances and results. Anything otherwise is magical thinking.
    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Here's my earlier note on BPM.com concerning "the lure of the generic":

      http://bpm.com/bpm-today/in-the-forum/do-we-need-a-new-name-for-processes#reply-3950

      Here's the "edge case example": I might want -- even desperately -- the outcome of being able to travel to Brooklyn. But unless I do my homework, I'm a mark for a pitch about a bridge . . .
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 04 2016, 11:11 AM - #Permalink
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    Implementing some explicit and machine-executable processes is not the end. This is the beginning of managing by processes. For example:

    • CEO will be able to execute new strategy by overhauling some processes.
    • COO will be able to reach the operational excellence by improving some processes.
    • CFO will be able to identify some performance (or dollar) leaks in context and to stop them.
    • CIO will be able to reduce time-to-maket and betetr anticipate projects cots.
    • CMO will be able to understand customer journeys and and beter anticipate them.
    • CDO will be able to get his/her massive data from executable models thus emrich those models.
    • etc.

    Please feel free to continue this list.

    Thanks,
    AS

     

    • John Morris
      more than a month ago
      Beyond the C-suite, inside the process-defined organization (a.k.a. "the cybernetic organization") there are broader impacts, especially on . . .

      Autonomous human actors (a.k.a. "employees" or "contractors" or "agents"), who will perform work of high value, because all technically and economically automatable work has been automated. This will be good for wages or fees, at least for those who have work.
    • Dr Alexander Samarin
      more than a month ago
      Also, explicit and computer-executable business processes (actually, a system of such processes) become a catalyzer (or a centre of crystallisation) for various initiatives within an enterprise-wide digital transformation.
    • Dr Alexander Samarin
      more than a month ago
      And, a today's thought..

      IoT as a system of digital contracts (Digital contract is an explicit and machine-executable cross-business-entities process see http://improving-bpm-systems.blogspot.ch/2016/07/digital-contract-as-process-enables.html )

      Each Thing participate in many processes

      Various process patterns
      - orchestration (strong coordination)
      - choreography (contractual coordination)
      - multi-parties goal-based (weak coordination, think soccer/football)

      Things have various roles in those different processes
      - slaves, agents, coordinators, arbiter

      Any Thing must be able to establish and execute digital contracts with other Thinks and, also, People
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 04 2016, 11:50 AM - #Permalink
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    3 votes

    "What do companies most often get wrong about processes today?" - depends on how they were introduced to processes.

    What works best in b2b is a notion that processes provide guidelines for operational initiatives and that managers' principal focus needs to be on objectives.

    Note that in CPM (once- through, deterministic) the process is the project. (i.e. get to the end and you have met the objectives).

    For b2b where there is a mix of structured/unstructured work we have no place to park objectives plan-side.

    Here, the Case, the consolidating account code, the ROI, or the initiative (to avoid categorizing all work as Case Management) is where objectives need to be parked and the main operational focus goes from managing processes/process fragments to managing objectives.

    One example of things skewing off to bad places is over-obsessiveness with e.g. "continuous process improvement"

    All improvements are disruptive, so the more important of these reasonably need ROIs/SROIs, completely with statements of risk and uncertainty. Too long a return, too high a cost, and the initiative should not be authorized/approved. Secondly, we know that over-tweaking eventually brings you to a state of instability, so, process improvement, yes, but not roving hammer-carrying analysts looking for nails.

    Another example of getting to bad places is the belief that a mapped out paper process is adequate for guiding the performance of complex work. Not so.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Thursday, August 04 2016, 03:14 PM - #Permalink
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    "Believe the BPM Software vendor bullsh!t"

    • David Chassels
      more than a month ago
      It's the industry analysts who need to get their act together to do real research on just how the software works to deliver all requirements to support BPM. They need to be independent and discount the vendor marketing BS.....
    • karl walter keirstead
      more than a month ago
      @David..
      Re: "do real research on just how the software works to deliver all requirements to support BPM"

      would you be agreeable to changing this a bit and widening it to

      ". . . do real research on what the needs are for 'business performance management', and the role that BPM/BPMs' can play in this"

      and then only worry about what particular case management, process management, and outcomes assessment software is needed?
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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
    Offline
    Thursday, August 04 2016, 04:37 PM - #Permalink
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    Believing that Automation comes before Simplification. That is only true in the dictionary

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    • Emiel Kelly
      more than a month ago
      But, isn't "100% automated" the simplest process there is?

      Wait...
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, August 04 2016, 05:53 PM - #Permalink
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    2 votes

    What do companies most often get wrong about processes today? They (companies) ignore the laws of BPM, see ref1.

     

    Thanks,
    AS

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