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Finishing out August, what is the worst advice you can give someone trying to improve their processes?

Tuesday, August 30 2016, 09:45 AM
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Responses (18)
  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 09:50 AM - #Permalink
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    Set up a project for it, hire some cool consultants to do it, but absolutely give them a room in another building, so all those process improvement initiatives don't disturb your daily business.

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    • Rick Willis
      3 weeks ago
      Nice work. That sure is terrible advice, Emiel.

      It's like someone watched the Ken Schwaber video from his talk at Google and only picked up on putting the team in another building.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 09:57 AM - #Permalink
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    8 votes

    Tell them that they have a 2 hour meeting to map out the process. Then follow that up with a demand that they get it right the first time.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 10:06 AM - #Permalink
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    10 votes

    Your entire organization is wrongly set-up, let's blow the whole thing up, and let our very experienced consultants rebuild everything according to industry-standards in our mature proprietary BPMS!

    Oh, and forget about interfaces, no one cares about those, since they're on the intranet!

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    • Emiel Kelly
      3 weeks ago
      What BPMS from the Magic Wave do you recommend?
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      3 weeks ago
      well, ya can't go wrong with using the quadrant leaders (they must be leaders for a reason, right?), but you should really look into using all of them, you know, just to hedge your bets!
    • Dr Alexander Samarin
      3 weeks ago
      And those leaders like agile methodologies.
    • Patrick Lujan
      3 weeks ago
      @Emiel, I *do* know two organizations that have all three of the top Gorrester Waves in house, one large financial and one large U.S federal entity. The latter is drowning in confusion.
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      3 weeks ago
      @Patrick, your experience beats my imagination :-)
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 10:07 AM - #Permalink
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    10 votes

    Go from department to department, asking them their part(s), piece(s) in the business process instead of getting all participants from all business units in the room at the same time and looking at the entire process landscape. Sub-optimization usually kills the overall process.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 10:12 AM - #Permalink
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    7 votes

    Hire a consultant to recommend a software solution, then get the consultant to improve your process. No need to involve any of the end-users

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 10:32 AM - #Permalink
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    10 votes
    You must use agile methodology in your project.
     
    Thanks,
    AS
    • Patrick Lujan
      3 weeks ago
      If they'd actually execute and truly be agile and not bastardized maybe, but nyet on both scores the vast majority of the time.
    • Dr Alexander Samarin
      3 weeks ago
      Unfortunately, it was a real case. One of my clients wanted to refactor an existing process-centric application with a BPM-suite tool (one of the best).

      The project was driven by a consultant who has the vendor’s qualification “lead system architect” and self-defined as a “real agilist”. A project team was asked to prepare stories during the sprint 0. This sprint was 6 weeks long because people changed several times the granularity of stories (to reduce the cost estimation). Those stories were validated by a business representative via the existing business process diagrams.

      Finally, the estimated cost (without the BPM-suite licenses) was higher than an ordinary development. The project was cancelled.
    • Patrick Lujan
      3 weeks ago
      BTDT, and LSAs aren't what they used to be. I know two that are worth their salt.
    • Dr Alexander Samarin
      3 weeks ago
      That project used a pure SCRUM.

      In my experience, agile and BPM can work in harmony - BPM discovers stories to be implemented à la agile.
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      3 weeks ago
      @Alex - agreed, this is how we use the two methodologies: BPM discovery spawns user stories. Not the other way around.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 10:42 AM - #Permalink
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    9 votes

    Analyst: This process could be done many different ways, which is the best?

    Bad Advice: Just pick one and implement it. It does not matter.

    The recipe to make a cake has many ingredients. You want to write them in the order to be combined, but which order. If you know nothing about baking a cake, you might think they could be done in any order, so to make it orderly you put them in alphabetical order. However, if you do know how to make a cake, you know there is a proper order.

    What happens is that the analyst is attempting to discover the process from the organzation, and no single person know the entire process, nor the entire set of reasons that something is done a certain way. I have seen many times when the analyst has what appear to be a set of independent tasks, and can not determine the order. Among managers, there is a feeling of "just do it". Managers often will make a list of tasks in an arbitrary order when the order is not obvious to them. In the case these orders are done manually by workers who DO know the proper order, the workers will often do them in the right order in spite of the worklist being in the wrong order.

    The problem with a BPM system is that it often over prescribes the order. Sometimes activities can not be started until the previous activity is complete. This can make a process unworkable even a very simple one.

    The point to remember is that no single person can know all the details of a large process. Don't put anything into order unless you have a good reason to. Leave the order ambiguous if you don't have a reason. And by all means, don't put tasks in a strict order just becuase you think the order does not matter.

    • John Morris
      3 weeks ago
      Comments on over-ordering deserve to be framed. Respect tacit and hard-won knowledge or pay a price. A challenge though for purveyors of software and methodologies for whom the reason for being is to "model something". Anything! Please!
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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 10:42 AM - #Permalink
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    8 votes

    Don't bother mapping your current state: there is absolutely nothing your senior managers do not already know by heart, there are no immediate savings to be found, any baselines for measuring future improvements are irrelevant, and it won't help shape your thinking on the future. Just ignore it.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Rachel
    Rachel
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    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 10:51 AM - #Permalink
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    10 votes

    Using Agile means you don't have to know your business requirements up front.

    Tied with...

    If you build it, they will come.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 11:01 AM - #Permalink
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    6 votes

    Talk to IT.....and if they can't help the managers can quickly tell you how their people work....!

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 11:12 AM - #Permalink
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    7 votes

    Once done, you don't have any other processes to worry about! Good job, son!

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 11:45 AM - #Permalink
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    9 votes

    Hire some coders.

    • Patrick Lujan
      3 weeks ago
      Or a Big Four. They're great on presos.
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      3 weeks ago
      Because code does to business people what PowerPoint slides do to developers.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 01:11 PM - #Permalink
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    7 votes

    Listen to industry analysts and do exactly what they say....

    If you can do it - do it

    If you can't do it - consult

    If you can't consult - teach

    If you can't teach - become an analyst

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  • Accepted Answer

    Ian Gotts
    Ian Gotts
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    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 01:19 PM - #Permalink
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    4 votes

    Ask everyone how they do things, and map/model your processes bottom-up

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 01:47 PM - #Permalink
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    7 votes

    Hire a consultant to work alone, because consultants are experts

    Buy a tool - an expensive one - because everyone knows technology is the solution

    Create very detailed process models - because they look great when you're audited

    Done

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  • Accepted Answer

    Tuesday, August 30 2016, 02:26 PM - #Permalink
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    6 votes

    As Mr. Schooff says, this discussion "is on fire". So far I note that unthinking agilism and code-centricity and arms-length consulting have all earned honours as "bad advice".

    So, now on the long-tail of comments, what more to add? How about this?

    BAD ADVICE: "Regardless if we are talking about software technology or management programmes, process improvement is just more of the same. Yesterday was inventory control, today is customer service processes and tomorrow is quarterly closings. There's nothing special as such about process improvement or process improvement technology. So anyone can do it, just give it to IT and they'll do some interviews and you'll have a great result. Don't worry about your commitments, I know you're swamped."

    Most of the "bad advice" proferred in today's Forum question relates to destruction of value -- i.e. recipes for project failure or mission failure of both. The "bad advice" offered in this reply however is on the other end of the spectrum, and concerns the missed opportunity, or opportunity cost. BPM as technology and methodology is a discipline which is uniquely about the work of business. As I like to say, "BPM is the technology where the concepts of process and work are first-class citizens of that technology". Getting the most out of BPM and process improvement means first of all an acknowledgement that BPM exists! And following from that, there's a whole schedule of things to do to step up to the BPM opportunity. Failure to recognize the radical opportunity and demands that BPM presents contributes to disappointing process improvement and BPM results.

    • karl walter keirstead
      3 weeks ago
      Hard for me to understand why anyone would deny the existence of BPM.

      In the construction industry I don't think you could find anyone who does not "get" the value of a project timeline with facilities for resource allocating/leveling/balancing, cost estimating/cost control and schedule control.

      Given that BPM is a close relative to CPM and that from earliest of times (mid 1950's), CPM was immediately recognized as "essential". ("don't go in or out the office without it") why the resistance?
    • John Morris
      3 weeks ago
      Hi Walter, you're making a very important point. For sure there are pockets of industry and service where process thinking (based on varying degrees of process technology) are long-established.

      But for the economy as a whole, process thinking and BPM technology have not yet achieved their potential. The technology is still maturing. But more of a challenge is the issue of governance. And the result is that few organizations are at business process maturity model beyond level II.

      Here are what two BPM thought leaders have to say on the adoption of process technology and process thinking:

      ------------------------------------------------------------------

      Paul Harmon, 2016
      The State of Business Process Management 2016

      "The second major conclusion is that there has been little development in the market, as a whole. Individual companies may have become more process-oriented, invested in BPMS, or created a business process architecture, but most companies have not. The state of BPM, as we defined it in 2005 is roughly the same today."

      http://www.bptrends.com/bpt/wp-content/uploads/2015-BPT-Survey-Report.pdf

      ------------------------------------------------------------------

      Business Process Management -- Don’t Forget to Improve the Process!
      Prof. Wil van der Aalst et. al, 2016

      "Despite the attention for BPM in academia and industry, there is a considerable gap between (1) the state-of-the-art BPM technologies and approaches and (2) the actual usage by BPM practitioners and their needs. For example, only few organizations use BPM systems to automatically execute their operational processes. In many cases, processes are hard-coded in applications (e.g., ERP systems like SAP or home-grown systems)."

      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12599-015-0409-x

      ------------------------------------------------------------------

      Both documents are well worth reading for insights how realising the promise of process thinking and BPM process technology.
    • Bogdan Nafornita
      3 weeks ago
      @John, and that is why I believe the BPM discipline, in its quest for the "next big thing", has skipped a critical step: fix the basics of BPM.

      There's still plenty of low-level improvement and automation to be done in the world before we jump into the bubble of low-code-amazing-everything, self-service social process design, deep learning, smart IoT, cognitive agents, interface bots, self-flying cars and death cure.

      In other words, everybody seems to be focused on researching new alloys for the arrowheads, no one wants to build the wooden shafts anymore.
    • Emiel Kelly
      3 weeks ago
      Nicely said, Bogdan!
    • John Morris
      3 weeks ago
      Nicely said Bogdan!

      And per wooden shafts, successful use of archery in war (e.g. Chinese archery or English archery being notable examples) is predicated by an entire social system encompassing wide-spread adoption, skill, training, sport, status, tooling, manufacturing, regulation, logistics and tactics. There's a world to win on the fundamentals of BPM technology and methodology.
    • karl walter keirstead
      3 weeks ago
      @John... Re the "Don’t Forget to Improve the Process!" paper, a key point made in the paper is .

      "Business processes need to be managed in environments where processes are only partly documented and a range of information systems is used."

      I read this as a description of ACM/BPM where some of the work is unstructured and the rest structured.

      Practical choices of run-time environments capable of providing orchestration and governance for such work are limited.

      You first need a back-end relational database management system so that you can establish a cursor position and you need the record you point to be able to accommodate all manner of data objects (entryfield, checkbox, radio button set, memo, ...) and on to "documents" (.txt, .doc. pdf, spreadsheet, video/audio).

      A history or Hx is essential so you know who did what, when.

      As for a "range of information systems" people keep trying to direct link to/from these and it's a joke, really, because once you have a community of systems that each wants to read/write using their own native data element naming conventions and data transport formats and once publishers realize (esp in healthcare) that sharing on any basis other than strict need-to-know is not an option, you immediately need to move to at-arms-length generic data exchangers.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Wednesday, August 31 2016, 02:38 PM - #Permalink
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    5 votes

    Assuming the improvement will be done via some kind of IT system (BPMS/iBPMS/CM, etc.) - gather everyone in the same room, ask them how would they like the interface to look like and watch the world burn.

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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, September 01 2016, 06:47 AM - #Permalink
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    5 votes

    It's IT responsibility.

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