1. Peter Schooff
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  3. Thursday, September 25 2014, 09:50 AM
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In your experience, why do companies continue to struggle to improve processes?
Tim Bryce Accepted Answer
Because companies do not insist on disciplined uniformity in performing the task. If each person performs it differently, you inevitably get the "Tower of Babel" effect. I would take it further and say people tend to treat BPM more as an art form as opposed to a science. An art form is difficult to teach to others and requires a person with intuitive knowledge, a science is based on proven concepts and terminology, as such, it is easy to teach to others. I see it as a science. But there is no true body of knowledge in BPM, just a lot of techniques.

If we can all agree on such concepts as: Information, Data, Systems, Business Processes, etc. - that we can define their properties with precision, then we can easily define the rules of the game and teach it as a science.

Unfortunately, the "Tower of Babel" effect has been with us a long time (I have personally watched it since the 70's), and it will continue for many years to come. Why? The lack of cooperation in the industry and resistance to standards.
  1. http://timbryce.com/bryces-laws/
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 1
Garvin Fouts Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
There are a couple of challenges I see constantly. The first is with internal staff/competency and their ability to support and evolve the processes. In many of our clients, they just don't have the resources that can dedicate to BPM and so each request for improvement has to go to consultants which is costly and slower than internal staff. Firms really start to improve once they get past the first few processes and have internal staff updating them quickly and that snowballs quickly. It is getting past that first few processes that makes a difference.

Secondly, applications with embedded workflow seems to be really causing fragmentation of the user experience where they may interact with multiple task lists, interfaces, and feature sets from various decisions by the CIO. For example, an automated expense process may be in one application while the new client onboarding in another and invoice reconciliation in another. There tends to be confusion and paralysis with where do we automate/update/ improve next when this fragmentation is present.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 2
Peter Johnston Accepted Answer
Top Line:
Process Improvement hasn’t caught up with the simple idea that any computerised process delivers instant data which helps improve it. So they overcomplicate things.
The procedures are those developed centuries ago for one-off capital projects. Consultants are brought in, then not trusted so they are bound so tight with procedure they can’t change anything. Risk and deadlines become more important than the efficiencies unleashed. And there is no metric for happy people – either customer or user - so the fact that happy people are effective people gets forgotten.

Drill Down:
There is a hierarchy of problems here. And most of the people reading this are one of them.

1. The people running the process are not the people improving it. So the right intelligence on what the user and the customer for the process actually need and want isn’t baked in at the beginning.
2. The people improving it aren’t trusted by the company. Projects go through a Chinese whispers process of approvals, consultants, committees and budgets so that no-one gets to take responsibility. Enthusiasm falls down the cracks of the committee.
3. The people approving the budgets don’t know what it does. So they struggle to see the value. And they think in projects with pricetags attached, not dynamically changing ever improving systems.

Three other factors come into play too…
1980s IT programs cluster people in companies around their own version of the truth. People don’t know what eachother is doing so they live off misconceptions. At one workshop people outlined five different processes they thought were occurring when there was only one actually happening. They didn’t understand why other departments needed certain information so they didn’t prioritise getting it, never mind making sure it was accurate.

In a collaborative environment people are happy to put out an idea for others to improve. But in a blame environment they keep it to themselves until they’re ready to launch it. Every initiative comes out with one person’s name on it – and it stands or falls according to that person’s standing in the company, so every project gets mired in the struggles for advancement within the corporate structure.

We’ve always done it like this
Process Operation Methodologies would be familiar to a 1700s Slave Plantation Owner. Page one says people know nothing, can’t be trained and can’t be trusted. Processes are imposed and people whipped to make them happen. As with slaves, that is a recipe for passive aggressive resistance, corruption and distortion of aims and actions. Treat people like idiots and they act like them.
Dynamic Process
Oxfordshire, UK
+44 (0) 1491 874368
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 3
Faun deHenry Accepted Answer
Blog Writer
First, it's impossible to improve something (anything) that isn't understood.

Surprisingly, there are numerous business people who don't understand process. As a professional who has worked in this area since the early 90's, I'm stunned that our company's initial task with many clients is to explain what business process is, and isn't.

I think Garvin made some excellent points; "...once [companies] get past the first few processes and have internal staff updating them quickly" process improvement can become part of the organization's culture. The challenge is getting the company and its employees to that stage. The first part of the business process journey with many clients is like an uphill climb in very wet mud -- difficult, messy, and time consuming.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 4
Emiel Kelly Accepted Answer
The question talks about companies and processes. And that's where a major problem is, I think:

Organizations have processes, but people have jobs. I really believe that people have no problems with improving things in their job, but processes?

So that's what I see a lot: No clear view of the processes that really matter. Every company has processes, but it's your own choice to manage your organization by process.

A process should be 'thing' that delivers a useful result. Strange, but sometimes that's not so clear. Let alone what you promise (time, cost etc) about that result and how the process performs.

So, reason 1: Not a real process oriented look.

Another thing that frustrates process improvement is the fact that most processes have more than 1 stakeholder. Mr. Lean can talk about 'only add value for the customer', but if you live by that rule, you'll be broke and in jail in a week. Because the law and shareholder/owners have a stake in the process too. Then there are also the employees and maybe some other stakeholders.

So if you have to make all that stakeholders happy, you can imagine that you have to add all kind of things to the process which frustrate real improvement.

So, from my experience:

#1: No clear process oriented view that makes clear what are the useful results of those processes and the thing you promise about those process results.

#2: To many stakeholders who want something from the process, which makes improvement very hard.
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 5
Brad Power Accepted Answer
Successful incumbent companies are designed to resist change. Their management systems embrace bureaucracy, hierarchy, functional silos, and seniority to preserve the way of doing things that have been successful and avoid risks that will lead to disaster. Resistance to improving the way that work is done is an unfortunate unintended consequence.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 6
Any company, enterprise, organisation is a socio-technical system. Also, it is a system of processes. The relationship between these two views must be clearly understood by people who are “improving” processes. Do these people have necessary skills? Are they supported by a person who is taking care about enterprise-as-a-system? Do they carry out just local optimisation? Do they know how to talk to all stakeholders? Do they know how to overcome existing resistance? Etc.

  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 7
David Chassels Accepted Answer
The command and control management style in business that has evolved over past century has not helped the human instinct to try something new. Interesting outside business the people queue up to buy new gadgets….so somehow that instinct needs to be harnessed in business. The “inside-out” evolution of IT where command rules even if little in reality little real “control” has contributed to the issues articulated by Faun.

So changing the business processes has become a real challenge. The good news is as articulated in this forum change to “outside-in” and real empowerment of people with BPM thinking will start a new journey. This is not an option it is now a must do. The West has “lost” the economic “war” as now the BRICS take their rightful place at the top table. Business will become much more challenging and a switch to empowerment and measurement adopting a “system thinking” approach much as pioneered by Dr W Edwards Deming in post war Japan in now needed - good booklet here on that http://www.transformationforum.org/PDFs/managing_transformation_means_transforming_management_sopk2.pdf Today “IT” needs to make that step change to support people in the real world of work where change is inevitable.
  1. more than a month ago
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Pritiman Panda Accepted Answer
I personally feel, one of the core reasons "why do companies continue to struggle to improve processes" is :
- we always try to see the business process through a tool (we are inclined with or the one that is available in our enterprise landscape or the one our chief architects are comfortable with) - But finally, what we end up doing is customizing the tool and force fitting it to meet the requirement
- If the previous step does not work, we tend to onboard a new Tool/BPM Platform and try to implement the same

So, in a way we tend to taste and get a flavor or every tool in the market - and force fit the requirement and process (than giving any breathing space for the process itself to improve)
But we deifinitely improvise on the Tool - to incorporate the best features in its next version or hotfix. :-)

When thinking about process improvement - we should come out of the "Tool Jockey" kind of mindset, and thinking with self created boundaries.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 9
Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer
1. Companies do not see process improvement as critical innovation.
Many companies totally focus on innovating their products and services whereas the support functions are considered an afterthought. There is a vicious circle here, because back-office functions (treasury, accounting, supply chain, credit control) usually get the blame if something gets screwed up, whereas if things get well, it's the front-office functions (sales, marketing) that get to celebrate. So less and less focus get spent on actually improving back-office as part of improving customer / employee experience, simply because it's not sexy or fun.

2. Current BPM tools do not support autonomous deployment.
Current BPM tools focus on BPMN conformity and compliance, whereas customers of processes see the notations as yet another thing to learn - and to many it's way too abstract. That's why all BPM deployments need consultants to just help the organizations fight their way out of multiple gateways, messages, triggers, compensations and other dangerous swear words. I have yet to see a BPM tool where organizations are able to fully deploy valid, executable processes ON THEIR OWN.
Managing Founder, profluo.com
"I have yet to see a BPM tool where organizations are able to fully deploy valid, executable processes ON THEIR OWN". I have seen some, but the tool hasn't used BPMN as such (only some elements of it). Maybe here lays the problem? BPMN is too complicated for an "avarage" user.
  1. Michal Rykiert
  2. 2 years ago
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 10
Gary Samuelson Accepted Answer
I don't agree that there's necessarily an organizational problem guilty of slowing process improvement. Those in management are generally familiar with continuous improvement - at least they must be to show value in growth and general optimization. Success in this area measured and rewarded in pay/remuneration.

The trouble in formal process improvement (BPM) starts all-to-often during analysis/development. Basically, forgetting critical reporting infrastructure during implementation. Without metrics, dashboards, and general reporting there's nothing to find, change, nor improve post deployment.

In any BPM project - try the following challenge questions per each process and process-task:
1) What is the value and how is it measured?
2) How are goals set?
3) How is progress towards goals managed?
4) Where in context to overall corporate values, strategy, and tactics does each managed process fit?
5) Was the BPM implementation built for improvement? (supporting software development life- cycle)

Typically at issue is forgetting the 'long-game'. BPM projects suffer from projectitis', meaning they're implemented and managed as a 'block' within IT infrastructure rather than tooling for proper process management.
  1. more than a month ago
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