1. Peter Schooff
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. Thursday, October 20 2016, 09:52 AM
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As Rick Willis said in this discussion on how to keep processes in line with business strategy, "Visibility into the process with real-time metrics." So how important is process visibility or transparency?

It is fundamental for a proper plan-do-check-act.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 1
Emiel Kelly Accepted Answer

"Knowing what is going on" seems vital to me.

Be aware that this happens on different levels. I can write lot's of stuff here, but I've done it before [url="http://procesje.blogspot.nl/2016/05/customers-dont-care-about-bpm-cycles.html"]here[/url] and [url="http://procesje.blogspot.nl/2016/05/does-new-gold-work-for-your-processes.html"]here[/url]
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
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  3. # 2
John Reynolds Accepted Answer

As Emiel says, "Knowing what's going on" is vital...

How important is it to know the following?

What are the remaining activities that must be performed to complete a process?
What's the expected completion time of a process?
Are there ways to accelerate the completion of a process?
Is something blocking the progress of a process?
What's already been accomplished in this process?
What would be necessary to cancel (undo) this process?

The list goes on and on and on....

Proprietor and Product Craftsman at John Reynolds' Venture
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  3. # 3
Walter Bril Accepted Answer

IMO the opposite would mean to me more of an oxymoron. However and as Emiel says: "Be aware..." . I was (in my green days :-)) once almost dismissed from a process mapping exercise, since processes - watch it - became
[u][quote][b]too transparent![/b]
[/u][/quote] Now, if that happens, you know you're touching the right pain points...
I'll relate to that in my comment :-)
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 11 months ago
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  3. # 4
Amit Kothari Accepted Answer

Besides the obvious "everyone knows who is doing what, when and how", there's two specific angles to the future of process transparency:

I think process transparency to OUTSIDE people (like customers) is the biggest problem yet to be solved. As everything becomes customer-centric, an incredibly simple - web (widget) or chat facing view on a process is transformative to customer trust, and therefore - retention and referral. Think about the FedEx parcel tracker and what that did to their customer service costs.
The other aspects of process transparency (in references) are allowing anyone to suggest process improvements - or crowdsourced process improvement in a simple way - which is next to impossible in today's BPM tools.
  1. https://tallyfy.com/crowdsource-ideas-process-improvement/
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  3. # 5
Bogdan Nafornita Accepted Answer

We must always listen carefully before we decide what is the
[b]Customer's definition of process success[/b]
- it's the only one that will matter, right or wrong from a purist standpoint.

Two examples:

1/ We were pitching, years ago, process transparency to a huge European insurer (not saying the name...). When they heard "transparency", they almost threw us out. Through the closed window. Lesson learned.

2/ We created a hugely complex A/P//IV process for a huge European retailer (again, name withheld...). It could have been done much simpler, with cases, streamlined approvals, quality gateways, clean master data. But the customer implemented this in order to
their A/P DOH as a key way to improve negative working capital... So cumbersome approvals, spaghetti loops, unclear ownership were inculcated in the organization culture and promoted in the project as well, this way they could always blame the late approvals to the "system", the "process", the "other people".

So, let's not default to "Process transparency is important" until we've checked this with the Customer.
Managing Founder, profluo.com
As for extending DPO by deliberately bad management, this is a moral hazard problem. We understand middle management is incented to do that. But at the Board level, this is failure. By all means, manage WC aggressively. But in the case here. there is no capability to manage WC flexibly. Maybe a new supply chain finance service becomes available which will benefit everyone. But the poorly managed organization cannot take full advantage. There is evidence that supply chains are much more brittle and risky when major supply chain anchors just play the bully. If the competition figures out a better culture faster, then the cascading results of transparency and flexibility will begin to be seen in comparative performance.
  1. John Morris
  2. 11 months ago
Yikes! Bad process so there's an excuse for extending DPO ("Days Payable Outstanding"), for better working capital (I think this is the implication)! (Emiel's shared article by Leandro Herrero on process inefficiency and anthropology is fantastic!) And we wonder why BPM is hard to sell. But it does get sold. The "modern" sometimes makes an appearance. Anthropological sensitivity is the order of the day. Also, if you are slower to evolve your rituals than the competition, you will fail. Well -- given the failure rate of Fortune 1000 companies, perhaps the fear of failure isn't stronger than the fear of disrupting ritual.
  1. John Morris
  2. 11 months ago
@Emiel: great share!!
@John: that obvious moral hazard was cultivated by top management, Board et all. That is the typical corporate culture in retail. Everything is cutthroat, almost everything is acceptable towards hard, cash-bound, goals. I have seen major retailers massaging document management engines into 1% of server RAM just because they wouldn't buy extra RAM, that wouldn't have storage back-up for millions of scanned invoices just because they wouldn't buy extra HDDs, or that would prefer to complain about a slow app, but they haven't paid maintenance for that app in the past 5 years. Mind you, those are very successful retailers, best-in-class in terms of retail KPIs.
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 11 months ago
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 6

I disagree with any across-the-board stated requirement that "everyone know who is doing what, when and how", for many processes.

Most of us have moved on from end-to-end processes, with objectives conveniently parked at process end nodes, to process fragments where BPM templates\instances do not need to be transparent for most end users.

The role of BPM has transitioned to providing background orchestration (read desision support) to users managing Cases or users who report to Case Managers. The latter manage tasks/steps within Cases. (a Case is an insurance claim, a patient, a legal suit, etc) .

Many of these folks see tasks post to their InTrays and they simply perform them. Many times, they don't need to know what happened upstream from the invtervention they are being asked to perform. If they do, they can look at Case histories.

They don't particularly need to know, either, what happens
they complete an intervention.

It's more complicated in that users are generally free to skip tasks, perform tasks out of order, insert steps not in any process fragment and this is why we need/have governance to prevent extreme, unwanted excursions away from 'best practices' (i.e process fragments).

As for "how to keep processes in line with business strategy", the answer is you don't.

Reason: there is no 1:1 correlation between a process fragment and strategy. There is, however, a 1:1 link between a Case and strategy because Cases are only opened as a result of an ROI having been prepared where the originators affirm how each Case is supportive of strategy.

So, the challenge is to keep Cases (not processes) in line with strategy and the person with the responsibility for this is the Case Manager.


1. not all Cases are authorized by ROI submissions. Some are provisioned in annual budgets. Small initiatives, of course, typically are not backed up by ROIs.

2..not all Cases, with their timelines comprising some mix of structured (process fragment) steps plus ad hoc steps, can be kept in the background. In healthcare, questions like "why did John Doe not receive an X-Ray back in May 2016?" arise and, here, it is helpful to look at the workflow.
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  3. # 7
John Morris Accepted Answer

What are the economic and organizational
[u]benefits to process transparency[/u]
? And what is the relationship of such benefits to "keeping score"?

[u]Management is about decisioning[/u]
(both tactical and strategic). And a decision is possible when you know what you need to know prior to any decision. Much of the cost of decisioning is associated with 
[u]search or information assembly time[/u]
[i](Apparently it's not uncommon for data science people to spend [quote][u]more than half their time on data wrangling[/u]
, as opposed to the analysis about which we hear so much!)[/i][/quote]

Where processes are concerned, decisioning is conducted on multiple levels:

[i][quote][b](i) process instance; (ii) process model design; (iii) a process automation decision; and (iv) larger business decisions of which processes are just one part [/b]

Process transparency implies that for each of these process-related decisioning phases,

[u]process decision-supporting information is available at low cost[/u]
. (We could call this "an economic definition of transparency".) So on this basis then, "
[u]process transparency" is efficient[/u]
. The
[u]same number of people can make more business- and process-related decisions[/u]
in any given time period. 
[u]Keeping score[/u]
, as per the original question, is an important aspect of decision support.

There are bigger issues though than warm feelings about how process transparency supports decisioning efficiency.

Process transparency is a
[u]mine-field of potential process dysfunction[/u]
. @Emiel's reference above to the question of
[u]anthropology, ritual and process efficiency[/u]
is a fantastic read. And @Bogdan's wonderful example concerning working capital is terrific on the moral hazards of
[u]tacit incentives against transparency[/u]

Here's a different perspective on process governance dysfunction: "
[i][quote][b]Black box-style management[/b]
[/i][/quote]". Black box-style management is what you could call "
[u]voluntary anti-transparency[/u]

Production processes of any kind are often treated by executive management as a sort of "black box". And this is possible because there are
[u]known ways of doing business[/u]
. So "the box just runs"! But this
[u]anti-modern way of managing[/u]
is a challenge for process advocacy, because
[u]process-oriented management requires executives to take responsibility[/u]
for what's inside the black box of any process.
[i]([quote][u]Lean Six Sigma[/u]
and related methodologies are also all about forcing business culture to care about what's inside the black box.)[/i][/quote]

So, transparency supports decisioning and thus efficiency. But there are social and organizational reasons why process transparency itself needs to be sold and adopted. Of course, given that BPM software is the technology of process automation, these challenges are also BPM sales challenges.
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  3. # 8
E Scott Menter Accepted Answer
Blog Writer

Process insight is important just as transparency in any part of a business is important. Of course, [url="http://bpm.com/bpm-today/in-the-forum/how-important-is-process-transparency#reply-4298"]to Bogdan's point[/url], not everything is necessarily going to be transparent to everybody. In the case he cites, it makes sense for a company to let its payables age (though not by simply making the process more circuitous; that seems silly). The fact that they're doing so needn't be transparent to a payee; however, the date on which the payee can expect payment must be. Indeed, that knowledge is likely to forestall any uncomfortable questions about the underlying process.

It will be interesting to see how developments like AI and big data intersect with transparency. By their nature, it's an extremely complex proposition to determine in retrospect how a certain decision was reached. Sometimes the answer might be clear (“our smart refrigerators sold by Sears are failing at twice the rate of those sold by other distributors”), while others will be a lot murkier (“our self-driving cars report no issues even though 4% of them are changing lanes too abruptly”). Results derived from AI in particular can be very difficult to reverse engineer.

I won't here get into the related question of the tranparency of process design (as opposed to execution). But that could be an engaging conversation as well.

http://www.bplogix.com/images/icon-x-medium.png Scott
Great point on transparency of AI systems, Scott. I think we tend to get a little over-excited about the impact of AI, but the deeper the impact will be (especially in decisioning), the harder we'll have to work to figure out the negative side.
Think about a self-driving car taking a wrong turn and killing someone (God forbid!). Who is going to reverse-engineer that decision up to the point the responsibility is pinned to an actual mistake, somewhere.
Shallow technologists are easily excited about the possibilities of collapsing apparent complexity under a "hit the button" action. But I think proper evolution of tech needs to be accompanied by an elevated human understanding of complexity, and that does not come easy or fast or cheap.
  1. Bogdan Nafornita
  2. 11 months ago
(Warning: huge digression ahead). There doesn't have to have been a mistake for a tragedy to occur. Car self-navigation systems will be faced with the same trolley-problem dilemmas that human drivers encounter (but don't actually experience—not really—because the decision window is often imperceptibly tiny). Go straight and hit the pedestrian, or turn sharply and endanger the driver? I hate to think that a software engineer somewhere is making that future decision for me today.

But of course that's what is happening every single time we build anything. We specify tolerances, test boundary cases, run simulations of extreme operating conditions. At some point, somebody decides the O-rings are supple enough for likely weather conditions on a Florida launchpad.
  1. E Scott Menter
  2. 11 months ago
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 9
Garth Knudson Accepted Answer
Blog Writer

Visibility, Control and Accountability are the three pillars of value BPM provides.

Regarding visiablity, BPM enables participants in designing solutions to see and define every activity and associated business rule, KPI, form field, list value, and integration node. Everyone has complete visibility into how things work and how work should get done.

In run-time, users get to monitor their work. They can see what is to be done, when it was done, what is yet to be done, who owns it, the communications between/among participants to understand, review, and approve work, so nothing is lost, and work get done according to SLAs. If works don't get done, they can find out why.

And with all the data gleaned from process activities and forms, users/stakeholders get visibility into efficiency, effectiveness, production, work in progress, trends, buying and selling, and/or whatever they need to know to make improvements and innovation.

Visibility leads to accountability. Visibility enables greater control. Visiblity is the core pillar of BPM.
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Let us imagine a software-defined enterprise:

- its business architecture (including processes) is machine-executable thus there is no gap between its strategy and its execution,

- all routine activities are done by robots thus people carry out only high-added-value intellectual work,

- its applications are microservice-based thus they are easy to adapt almost in real-time,

- its information is versionable and each version is stored in a blockchain-based storage thus easy to share with partners in business transactions,

- all information (partially anonymised) is available for comprehensive analytics thus the best next scenario of work can be selected,

- it is explicit who can see what information, when and why thus information is more secure,

- etc.

Is it possible to build such an enterprise WITHOUT process (actually operational data) visibility or transparency? – Of course, no.

But, not all data should be visible to everyone and EHR is the best example of that rule. Personal data and personal sensitive data must be handle with care. So, some data must be originated with a clear understanding of their potential use, e.g. all the EHR must be available also in the anonymised form.


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  3. # 11
Rick Willis Accepted Answer

Visibility has always been a key attribute of a strong implementation. Without visibility, you wouldn't be able to make fact-based improvements to a process. It also plays a key role in building trust with the business. Trust that you are succeeding. Trust that you are making advancements for the business. Trust that it wasn't a waste of money!

The tools you use to implement process should certainly have capabilities to inspect into the process. A really great tool will also give you the ability to "slice and dice" the data by adding filters that allow you to look for issues proactively.

For instance, I was working on a process for a large healthcare provider that had users of the system "fighting" over which department was responsible for some of the work. We were able to create a report that identified items that had been transfered back and forth between departments more than twice. This allowed us to identify potential KPI problems before they became an issue as well as offer additional training to the offending users.

Visibility isn't just the current state of a process either. You should be able to trace the path that a work item took through a process as well. How did it get to where it's at? Who approved the action? Knowing the average rate at wich work items are passing through specific tasks or sequence flows offers insights into process improvements and staffing needs.

In the end, a process with no visibility is a process at risk of being abandoned.
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  3. # 12
Guest Accepted Answer
There are no better hotspots for understanding into difficulties confronting an association than workers themselves. To prosper in an atmosphere of ceaseless change, associations need to expand their awareness of how procedures can be enhanced by making channels of correspondence that are promptly accessible for their representatives to bring their worries, knowledge and feedback to the consideration of initiative.
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  3. # 13
David Chassels Accepted Answer

Transparency is important on a number of aspects. With MDE the application is now displayed in a graphical model which helps in build so all including users understand and contribute to creation of the deployed solution. This becomes a useful way for audit and compliance to understand how information is created. Transparency is then moved to real time reports on activity which improves decision making and will aid implementation of an empowerment philosophy to improve efficiency etc. At a day to day level such transparency can highlight bottlenecks, delays, failing to achieve metrics etc and should allow reallocation of work to quickly address such issues.
Interesting remark " At a day to day level such transparency can highlight bottlenecks, delays, failing to achieve metrics etc and should allow reallocation of work to quickly address such issues"

Given the usual mix of process fragments and ad hoc interventions at Cases, it would be nice to auto-map each Case so show steps along the Case timeline. This would highlight handoff times between steps and provide at-a-glance viewing of where process template steps are being skipped and where ad hoc steps are being inserted (for process improvement purposes).

The problem is handoff times at any one Case are the result of resource allocation/re-allocation across Cases. This complicates things. (e.g. a customer calls, priorities change, several Cases are likely to be put on hold as a key resource is focused on the customer emergency).

Mining the past is difficult, decision-making re the allocation/re-allocation of resources for current work is not so difficult if you put in place RALB (resource allocation, leveling and balancing) and, predictions relating to the timing of future work at Cases is difficult because we often don't know how long forward tasks are going to take.
  1. Karl Walter Keirstead
  2. 11 months ago
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