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There have been a few discussion and blogs of late on the difficulty of telling good processes from bad. So from your point of view, what's the best way to determine that a process is bad?
Thursday, October 24 2013, 09:41 AM
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  • Kirk J. Gould
    more than a month ago
    A bad process is like a bad day fishing. If you have activity but no accomplishment, you don't have a process at all. If a bad process exists, then there is something to work with. The process can be improved. And what is the best way to fix a process? Simply to have everyone follow it. When you have to follow a painful path firsthand, you quickly find ways to fix it. For example, if you are an executive and you make your admin assistant fill out expense reimbursement forms etc and they say it is difficult, you really don't understand until you try to fill out the paperwork. Try it yourself!
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 24 2013, 09:49 AM - #Permalink
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    As I think a process is just a means, I would say by it's result. If you promise 'we deliver pizza's within 30 minutes' but you deliver it in more than 30 minutes in 60% of the time, I would say that's quite bad. Of course the question could also be interpreted in another way. What aspects of a process makes it good or bad (the workflow, the people, the information, the supporting systems, the rules, the way it's managed, etc etc)?. But before you diving into these aspects I would define bad processes as processes that don't deliver what they promise. That doesn't mean that these processes are as optimal as possible. But as long as they are effective, who could say they are bad? In the end efficiency is also a means, not a goal or some indicator for bad or good.
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    Thursday, October 24 2013, 09:52 AM - #Permalink
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    Users complaining. #ThatIsAll
    • Emiel Kelly
      more than a month ago
      Who are users? The users of the process result? Then it is not #thatisall as soem customers don't complain, they just don't come back after a 'one time bad experience'
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    Thursday, October 24 2013, 10:03 AM - #Permalink
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    The lack of explicit process goals. There is no way a process can be good if there is no stated goal, because: 1/ a good process cannot be designed without an upfront set of goals; 2/ you only measure the effectiveness of a process in relation to its goals.
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    Thursday, October 24 2013, 10:39 AM - #Permalink
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    The question speaks right to my heart. The following are the signs of a bad process for me: - The process just exists in letter, and no-one really exercises it. - The process is rigid, and is not improved or streamlined with the experience gained from practicing it. - It should have solid reasoning which justifies its existence - It should be able to be linked to productivity and business objectives Pankaj Taneja HyperOffice
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    Thursday, October 24 2013, 11:07 AM - #Permalink
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    The first step is to look at subprocesses on tasks and events, of course when the BPMS has this feature. If there is many subprocesses on a task/event, it must be improved. You can also look at steps with time and delays, and if they are often exceeded, there is a problem. The second step is to speak with users at all management levels. They know what is good or bad, and what needs to be improved. Most of the time, they even have good suggestions or some ideas of improvements. The third step, of course, is purely technical: check errors for connection to other IS components, have a survey on third party API evolutions, and more. Think about continuous improvement at the beginning of your BPM strategy, not only once the process are in production. This is the most important.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 24 2013, 11:52 AM - #Permalink
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    This isn't a technical question so not sure why I'm seeing mentions of BPMS here. Pure and simple, listen to both end users and end consumers of the process (whether internal or external). I often cite the fact that the customer complaints process is your most direct way of telling you which processes work and which don't. KPIs for example only tell the internal management side not the full picture. Does the process meet or exceed the expectation or outcome it was designed for, if not then it's failing. Common sense prevails over expensive software here.
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  • Accepted Answer

    Thursday, October 24 2013, 01:04 PM - #Permalink
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    "Everyone knows" When a process is bad or broken, everyone involved knows it. It is a feeling - and a pretty obvious one. When a process works well, you never notice it. Things just happen and you are in the flow. As Theo says: talk to the customers. Are they getting what they expect? Talk the workers. Where do they feel things are not running very well? It may be very hard to identify what to do about the bad process, but it is usually easy to identify which processes are bad.
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    Thursday, October 24 2013, 01:34 PM - #Permalink
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    If you have process metrics, then the answer is: when those metrics fall short of your expectations. If you don't, then the answer is: "who knows? All processes look the same to me. I just build the things; it's somebody else's problem to see if they're making us any money or whatever." If you get fired, then, in retrospect, the answer is probably: yeah, that one my ex-boss yelled at me about, that one wasn't great.
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    Thursday, October 24 2013, 01:44 PM - #Permalink
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    Theo's right, folks...you don't know a process is bad for any technical reasons. You know it is bad when the humans who govern the system have to go around the structure to make things work.
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    Thursday, October 24 2013, 04:02 PM - #Permalink
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    Fully agree with Theo here.. If the process does not add the needed value to the expected outcome determined by the 'voice-of-the-customer' (internal/external) it's a bad process. So something with bell chards and lower- and upper specification limits..
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    Friday, October 25 2013, 04:44 AM - #Permalink
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    It is easy in principle and it has been made difficult by process management methodology. While I agree widely with the Theo's general perspective I think this discussion goes astray in multiple ways. The term 'BAD PROCESS' comes from the world of predefined, predictable process models. A process has to be defined to be 'bad'. If there is no process the customer might be unhappy but there is no process that is at fault. In the general concept of a process the main goal still is cost cutting so a process is bad if it is expensive. Process quality is measured how well people adhere to process metrics such as how much time is spent. Quality in terms of customer satisfaction is not measured inside the process. Therefore there is no'easy way' identify a bad process, mostly because creating and maintaining a process today does not include explicit goals so the much vaunted process metrics have not means to identify is something isn't right. Even if the people involved realize through a conversation with a customer that something is amiss, there is not much that they can do unless they go through the whole improvement cycle. Just knowing that a process is bad does not yet include an understanding what process would be good. Each performer can identify how to improve his work if he understands his goals. That has btw nothing to do with the number of sub-processes ... And then there is the whole nonsense about iBPMS that supposedly enables the business my merging multiple technology sets (analytics, rules, event recognition, pattern matching) to automatically tune processes. No such thing will happen because first you need explicity goal definitions as well AND you need an explicit data model AND you need a well-defined state-space of varaibles that make up the process environment AND somehow the customers and performers goal assessements have to be mapped into it. Truly, I have seen nothing of the kind in iBPMS proposals including recent books on the subject. It is a hype ... no more. I did discuss the subject from the perspective of goal orientation in this post a couple of years ago: http://isismjpucher.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/goal-orientation-in-process-management/ Quote: "For business, goals can represent strategic objectives (often quite intangible), customer outcomes (pure perception), operational targets (must be measurable) or process goals (ideally tangible). While process goals should in principle be tangible, that does not mean that the actions needed to arrive at that goal are equally tangible or predictable. That is the whole point. A process flowchart assumes all-out predictability, while goal-orientation is about guidance under uncertainty. As certainty is not achievable because any event can happen at any time in any process context, goal-orientation is the only real world approach to process management. The ‘outcome’ (can be output, handover or result) of a process is achieving goals that are causally connected to business strategy and capability." You should finally realize that virtually all processes that involve human interaction and are predefined and rigid are bad processes!
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  • Accepted Answer

    Friday, October 09 2015, 03:56 PM - #Permalink
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    Bad process is not a technical problem but the business one. Agree with Keith that people (staff and customers) will talk a lot about something which is bad not about something which is good. Usually, the worst process is easy to detect – just talk to the people.

    But, after improving several “very bad” processes, more scientific techniques are necessary to detect “bad” processes. Also the scope must be extended to the whole enterprise, because a process which is good for its owners and performers may be “bad” for the enterprise.

    Thanks,

    AS

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