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There seems to be a growing consensus that companies should be process driven. What do process-driven companies do differently?
Thursday, April 17 2014, 09:43 AM
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 09:58 AM - #Permalink
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    They acknowledge that the organization is made up of processes, whether explicit or discreet, and not run by unicorns and magical rainbows. And by understanding those processes they become aware of efficiencies, risks, the impact on customer and employee, and the bottom line among other factors. Exposing processes creates transparency.
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    Thursday, April 17 2014, 10:07 AM - #Permalink
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    The time wasted in the past with lost & duplicated information, is now invested in documenting and improving processes. The best with BPM driven companies is that if the processes are well designed, the integration and management of information is optimized and in continuous improvement.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 10:18 AM - #Permalink
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    They think about it before they do it, and what it means to think about it before and as they do it through the lens that Theo has stated above regarding an organization being made up of processes. It's heightened awareness of what is being done and why with a goal in mind, improving the business.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 10:26 AM - #Permalink
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    All companies are process driven, some however just execute them better than others. They do this by designing their processes from a customer perspective. They take the customer journey.
    • Scott Francis
      more than a month ago
      this is an interesting take - process-driven whether they realize it or not :)
    • Peter Whibley
      more than a month ago
      All companies are simply a collection of processes are they not? Purchasing, billing, HR, logistics, product design etc.
    • Scott Francis
      more than a month ago
      yep, they just don't always see themselves that way
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 10:28 AM - #Permalink
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    I had a great example on this topic with a friend over lunch today. He runs a medium sized insurance broker. He's in the process of making the transition from being an 'other' company to a process-driven company. He used to be overwhelmed by the term 'process' and thought it did not apply to his work place. He associated 'process' only with the few core business process. In his case those are selling insurances and dealing with damage claims. BPM and workflow started making much more sense once he realized that even simple triggers may lead to workflows which are not related to these core business activities. He gave the example of receiving a birthcard. They need to reply with a congrats letter and if it's an important client, also a present. Start handling the hospital claims. And 6 months later they might send information about a child savings account. Then he summarized: "Now I see how my organization is full of processes. BPM is not only about selling insurances and handling the damage claims. Any trigger that has follow action items is a process." That click is a first, crucial step to becoming a process-driven company.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 10:54 AM - #Permalink
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    It isn't about doing, it's about living. A different lifestyle, different attitude towards customers, different style of communications between business and IT etc.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 11:24 AM - #Permalink
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    Shoot. Might as well put it in a blog post: http://www.bp-3.com/blogs/2014/04/process-driven-keeping-promises/ - in the post I link to some additional blog content that isn't linked in this response. I'll give you an example. The process-driven company might, for example, have company values. Or decide on refining the definition of those values. One of our values at bp3 could be described as "Keeping Commitments" (or some big companies would say, Integrity). We define it as "Keeping Promises". At a typical company, this would be part of the culture and you'd communicate to everyone and expect them to do their best to keep promises individually. A process-driven company goes further. You expect your team to only make promises you can deliver on, for one thing - so it isn't just about keeping promises, it is about making the right promises - promises that matter, that add value, and that can be delivered. And you might have a process around approving those commitments, those promises, to customers, employees, and vendors. That's how we think about it at BP3... Next, a process-driven company would look at what services and products they offer to customers, and the promises implicit and explicit in those offerings: quality, budget, functionality, best practices, best-in-class, great user experience, mobile-ready. And you'd invest in technology, methods, and skills to support those promises. You'd re-organize your team to make sure that part of the org supports your ability to keep promises: we started BP Labs for just that reason. You'd invest in technology to keep the promise of great user experience - Brazos for UI, for example. But not just that, you'd invest in the process for doing solution reviews, architecture reviews, installs, best practices. You'd offer solution support for continuation long after you leave the project. And you don't have to do this all at once. But over time, you invest. You examine your process for delivering on your promises, and you improve upon it and invest in it. And as you get bigger, scaling your business affords lots of opportunities to invest to improve upon it.
    • Patrick Lujan
      more than a month ago
      I feel like this should be an infomercial on cable at 3:00 in the morning. :D
    • Scott Francis
      more than a month ago
      yeah, i know using your own company as an example tends to read that way. ignore the plugs for what we're doing specifically, the point is we're focused on investing in the processes that support our commitments. if you're not process driven you just wave your hands "we're committed". done.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 01:18 PM - #Permalink
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    Every company has processes, but probably the label 'process driven' applies to the ones who really use their processes and have the right level of grip on them. Processes are just a means to deliver results. So a good process starts at the end. So that companies ask themselves; what are the useful results that stakeholders expect of us and what are the characteristics of the process to deliver that? So those companies know what they promise and have insight in how they perform (and that insight is not the same as a process model). Those companies don't employ visio-therapists and are aware that processes are not a 'few blocks with arrows. That means they apply the right level of steering to their processes to get the right level of grip. This can go from tayloristic for some processes to goal driven for other processes. They are aware not every process can be managed the same like the sixsigma brigade would like. And I think a real process driven company can tell you anytime what's going on with a case. What's the status? Is it on time?. But what is a speedometer without a throttle or a brake? Worthless. So they also have the capabilities to change and steer when needed. And for some processes that might be good old PDCA and others need more operational flexibility. So process driven organizations? I would rather say process driving organization!
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 02:03 PM - #Permalink
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    A enterprise run by business processes should achieve better efficiency (more results with fewer resources) than others not managed by processes. Anyway, what best can distinguish a enterprise run by processes the others not run by processes, is when these processes are managed in a correct alignment with the business strategy oriented to the satisfaction of the customers. Thus, in a continuous dialectic between the strategic objectives and the results achieved by the processes, should make possible to continuous improvement its market position and strengthen its identity, distinguishing itself through better adjustment to what are client real needs, and consequently better results.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 03:09 PM - #Permalink
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    There are two things that I think distinguish process-driven companies - one at the strategic level and one at the worker level. At the strategic level the company strategic plan is linked to processes for understanding but also for execution. The plan does not just cascade down through the hierarchy but is translated into processes. At the worker level, whenever a problem comes up, instead of saying what dept. is accountable for the problem, the manager and worker ask, "What process does that occur in, how can we go and see it, and what data can we get to understand it?"
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 04:00 PM - #Permalink
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    Let's assume the processes in question are good ones, and supported by a robust BPM implementation. Well, for one thing, a process-driven company doesn't get fined by regulators. It doesn't degrade profits and employee morale by employing legions of staff to move paper around. And it doesn't turn fans into detractors by misplacing or mishandling their requests. I do kinda miss the unicorns though.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 05:37 PM - #Permalink
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    I think that the expression “process-driven companies” must be clarified. I consider that this expression means that all processes are explicit and (sorry Theo) executable by a proper tool. People in a process-driven company know their a) work has been done, b) work in execution, c) work to be done in near future. SLA are monitored by process-based predictive analytic. Management of the company know how to react to unexpected situations. Improvements (continual and disruptive) are very welcome. Impact of any proposed changes is objectively estimated (via simulation) before accepting those changes. Information security is enhanced by design. Various risks are permanently monitored. Business people are concentrated on addressing their business challenges. Agree with Anatoly that this quantity of “differences” becomes new quality. Thanks, AS
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, April 17 2014, 10:25 PM - #Permalink
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    That's an easy one! They manage outcomes by process not just within their functions! They manage across their functions to deliver value to their customer/ constituent/ partners. They understand their inter dependencies. They know their connections. They have traceability backwards from receipt of value back to initial request. And they have visibility across their functions to follow how the value is being created and to follow its progression to the recipient. They manage process at the top level first and drill down to sub processes only when things go wrong or when they see an opportunity to improve! They have hierarchies of metrics that are no deeper than 4 levels.
    • Janelle Hill
      more than a month ago
      Of course, this is far easier said than done. Far too few organizations ever achieve this.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, April 18 2014, 03:36 AM - #Permalink
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    All companies rely on people and their processes the key word is "driven" which acknowledge their importance to the point where it is recognised there is a need to make investment to “digitise". Such "driven" companies will see the knowledge capture of the critical processes and with real time fed back will empower and encourage people to think of better ways to work and ensure “compliance” in the increasingly regulated world. Such companies will have a lower cost management hierarchy compared with traditional command and control management and be quicker to react to market pressures?
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, April 18 2014, 03:49 PM - #Permalink
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    What a cornucopia of wonderful replies! I see the word "dialectic" used (Jose C.) and "visio-therapists" (Emiel K.).

    And the first reply captures the essence of the difference between "process-driven" and "process-free" organizations. The process-driven organizations don't believe that they are "run by unicorns and magical rainbows"! (Theo P.) LOL.

    The sentiment about unicorns and rainbows is perhaps deeper than mere humour. When we say "business process" we are talking about opening up "the black box of work" (my term) -- and again Theo mentions the idea of "transparency" which maybe alludes to the same idea. Inside the black box of work are the explicit work acts where value is created. Many country-club managers would rather not have to pay attention to what's inside the box. They are more than happy to treat the work as a black box, in a sort of Nike fashion ("just do it"), the better to leave work early. This unwillingness to engage with the work of the organization is a kind of magical thinking -- thus Theo's characterization resonated with me.

    The opposite of magical management thinking is management thinking that is both rational and respectful. Work is subject to rational analysis and control; and the participants in the work process are engaged as having agency.

    That said, I find that this debate about business process has a certain unfortunate generic quality. One could substitute various management buzz-words for "process" and many of the sentiments expressed would still make sense. And if this is the case, then why mention process at all?

    In at least two or three examples in the past year various participants in the world of BPM and process technology have attempted to define the terms, with no little difficulty. And one of the biggest challenges is usually some version of "what is unique about process that isn't identical to good management practices generally, even going back a century?"

    My own answer is that business process is first of all about "taking responsibility" for your work. In a day of disaggregation and BPO, there are no more "black boxes". And secondly I hold that BPM technology does have specific and significant technical content which is more than just good management practice.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, April 22 2014, 09:14 AM - #Permalink
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    Common theme here - all businesses are process-driven whether they acknowledge that or not. The companies that do better are the ones that differentiate processes along a spectrum - from mature processes focused on efficiency at one end to experimental processes focused on innovation at the other end. Recognizing that the operating characteristics and objectives are going to be different across this spectrum is a good first step. The more mature companies then focus on managing the business logic embedded within these processes. The high-volume, stable processes are automated and the occasional, experimental processes are left to rely on 'human' expertise. Most business processes would fall between these two extremes - and require a judicious mix of business-logic automation and human expertise. The true process-driven company would focus on the grades of business logic management (or more broadly, Decision Management) first, so that the most appropriate processes and workflows can be designed to accomplish business goals.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, April 23 2014, 03:49 AM - #Permalink
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    Process-driven companies blame the processes for every business outcome - good or bad.
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