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When do you know a process can or should no longer be improved and needs to be discarded completely?
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Generally well after everyone else already knows it.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 1
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When the output of the process is no longer needed by the organisation and/or the customer.
Co-founder of Skore
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  1. more than a month ago
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Garvin Fouts
Blog Writer
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Just had one two weeks ago...process is still needed but the way it was implemented was actually not leveraging much of the automation other than allowing them to cut and paste approvals and validate data lists. They are undergoing a re-implementation project now but the reason it didn't change or update was because of resistance to changing it from the process owner as that person still had the power centered on them. A major Financial software upgrade is forcing their evaluation process.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 3
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When no one uses or does it, goes the workaround route.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 4
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When I hear some strange requirements from the users. An example: We decided to improve our operational processes and we understood that we need BPM and a good BPM-suite tool to enable this. But, as we carry out our core business calculations in Excel spreadsheets, we want to preserve (at any cost) these Excel files.

Thanks,
AS
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 5
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A deceptively simple question, concerning whether to scrap a process and start from scratch . . . but what is "a process"?

A process is a collection of policies, practices and tools most likely. Including "dark process", a.k.a. tacit practices, skills and knowledge that are not encoded by the organization but are nevertheless still essential. We also need to consider the work that is necessarily performed in the context of the process - otherwise, why replace?.

To answer the question, the usual business case decisioning is available: What is the possible benefit to reworking the process versus the cost of that rework? The business case might be hard to make though -- especially because of uncertainty of benefits and uncertainty concerning "the tacit".

It's often the case that front-line staff (process staff, users and beneficiaries) "know" the failings of organizational processes before process sponsors do. Given the uncertainties around building a business case, a consensus from staff, uncynical staff with esprit de corps please, as a leap of faith is a better guide to process replacement than Procrustean business cases. On the other hand, in tired organizations with cynical staff, lacking esprit de corps, one will need uncynical leadership from above.

Perhaps the persistence of poorly performing processes can be explained in part by this analysis: unwillingness to trust front-line staff on one hand or lack of leadership on the other. Investment advice: Bet against any equity where front-line staff and leadership are both cynical (not sure how one would one would discover such sentiments).
Comment
Corollary investment advice: Bet on software that can discover the cues that will warn you when an investment prospect suffers from that condition. ☺
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4557
Hey, maybe one could do "sentiment analysis" from Facebook and Glassdoor etc., and score "cynicism" . . . : )
@John re [ front-line staff (process staff, users and beneficiaries) "know" the failings of organizational processes before process sponsors do. ]

True, for "not invented here" but not when the process sponsors are process staff, users and beneficiaries.

I like bottom up where the view is "we would to do this", ROIs are prepared, management approves and the funding recipients then spend wisely..

Not so easy to have such a climate in a rigid hierarchical organizational structure.

Very easy in a flat organization where all of the members are shareholders and took out 2nd mortgages to get the business up and running.
Karl Walter Keirstead
@John

My take is staff don't need much leadership to get on board with something like MS Word.

Looking back, management presumably reviewed an ROI for an initiative "we need better ways and means of generating documents", management approved the ROI (i.e one-time leadership contribution).

All up to staff from that point forward.

Staff presumably looked at the "solution" and discovered that. yes, it had a learning curve, but once through this, anyone not using MS Word was effectively shooting themselves in the foot (i.e. easier to do the work with MS Word than without MS Word), so they on-boarded.

Aside: I suppose if the USA Education Dept cuts budgets by 2/3 (perhaps they will eliminate reading and writing?), products like MS Word will fall out of favor, causing both staff and management to become cynical.

Clearly, the motivation to get on board with an initiative is not always that obvious, so in addition to approval of an initiative, management probably does have to provide ongoing leadership (i.e. we encourage this initiative), but it's hard to imagine that they would become cynical unless things change.

Hard to imagine how staff, with the exception of chronic complainers, can be or can become cynical when they see people beside them working at twice the productivity.
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4564
+1 @Walter re: difference between hierarchical and flatter organizations in terms of company evolution -- and technology adoption.
So also +1 for highlighting "technology adoption". Technology adoption theory (reference Geoffrey Moore or earlier Everett Rogers etc.) is usually considered to apply to external technology adoption (e.g. of new technologies coming out of the lab and represented by vendors or open source champions). However the same social processes occur for internal technology adoption, including adoption of new business processes. (The technology adoption model approach might be utilized more effectively in selling business process automation software . . . )
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 6
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I find this question a bit confusing.

The heading "Time to completely scrap . . " seems to refer to decisions relating to runtime process instances that have reached a state where they are no longer useful (i.e we should stop using the template to generate instances). Not sure what "start over" means.

Then, in the detail line, we see "can or should no longer be improved" which seems to imply that as and when process developers who have a singular focus on "continuous improvement" reach a point of diminishing returns with a process, they should stop improving such processes. Not sure what "discarded completely" means.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 7
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The beauty of low-code/no-code BPM technology is that this question represents much less of a dilemma than it used to when “starting from scratch” meant tossing out a bunch of code somebody else had written (understanding that there were likely to be any number of unintended consequences arising from doing so), and firing up the IDE to start the cycle all over again.

A solid BPM platform makes it easy to push out new applications, even as it simplifies the process of enhancing your existing ones (thereby reducing the need for “starting from scratch” in the first place). No mountains of dead (and frequently unintelligible) code; no search for expensive coders and architects whose work output can barely be understood by the business, much less assessed as to risk. And no programmers left wondering what professional and personal growth opportunities they're ever likely to realize while working for an employer that sells insurance, dog food, or theater tickets.
http://www.bplogix.com/images/icon-x-medium.png
-Scott
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 8
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Seeing BPM as a continuous improvement discipline, you need to execute, measure and improve the process once and again.
I like to consider a process ready to be discarded when it is so complex, that you feel lost in the model, and you are unable to introduce improvements quickly.
This is the moment when (in my experience) it is better to freeze the current version, and start to model the process in a white sheet, from zero.

This technique allows you to take advantage of all the experience and knowledge you have about the process, but lets you introduce the improvements seeing it as a whole.
Of course, the BPM Suite must support process versioning and let instances running on the older version coexist with the new ones running on the new process.
For example, in our BPMS's (cloud and on-Premise), we recommend to keep the older version for a few months, because the newer version will requiere several adjustments until it's ready to go live.

Best !
CEO at Flokzu Cloud BPM Suite
Comment
@Juan. . . Interesting . . .

The alternative view of BPM as a core component at Cases for achieving Case objectives/outcomes, which, in turn, have as their mission to sustain and augment competitive advantage also ends up recognizing BPM as a continuous improvement discipline, albeit indirectly.

In Case, most of what Case Managers strive for is threading together process fragments and good dynamic decisions re ad hoc step insertions at Cases (when to insert, what, how and why).

The processing of Cases yields data. We can mine the data, (data from structured step sequences plus data from ad hoc insertions), take note of structured steps being skipped, performed out of order, steps revisited plus the frequency, time, timing of ad hoc insertions.

Then, use all of this info to improve process fragments AND provide real-time predictive analytics at process fragment branching decision points (i.e 60% went this way, 40% went that way).

Case Managers put effectiveness first, efficiency second, whereas BPM specialists/BPM vendors reasonably focus on BPM.

If BPM specialists/BPM vendors were to change their pitch to Case Managment they would be pitching management consulting.

A transition of "leader of the pack" in BPM to "leader of the pack" in management consulting would be high risk and difficult.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 9
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Agree with Scott on benefits if no low code DBP software used indeed highly unlikely would ever reach a scrap and start over again..! However few are at this favourable position and it would take a serious event to trigger such an event....maybe serious breach of compliance with fines and maybe even court action. Advice before such dramatic action is do your research on latest supporting software which has in built flexibility and can quickly rebuild the process as business require.
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  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 10
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My mindset is that business processes should always be subject to this scrutiny: "what if NOW would be the time to completely scrap this process and start over? how would we reach our business objective? what would we do differently? what additional business objectives have we missed or have emerged in the meanwhile?"

And agree that with a DBP / fast-code solution you can afford to ask yourself this question rather often...
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
Comment
No denying this BUTdoesn't the scrutiny have to happen indirectly for processes (see my comment above)?

i.e.
we have few end-to-end-process that have express objectives,
the only thing we have left are process fragments,
the focus is on meeting case objectives not individual process fragment objectives,
some process fragments get used in multiple cases in different ways,
users regard the process fragment templates as guidelines,
they deviate from the templates (skipping steps, performing steps out of sequence, re-visting steps, then inserting ad hoc steps)

Not much choice here but to define objectives at the case level and focus on the extent to which the software, robots (if there are any) and people meet case objectives.

Sure, we can have process specialists focus exclusively on processes but the way they get used requires a knowledge of how Case Managers manage cases and in areas like medicine, that gets complicated - you might have to be a process specialist and M.D. to understand why a Case went this way versus that way.

I guess most of the commentary on the efficiency of any process has to come from the end users, not data analytics on completed Cases. Very hard to assess the effectiveness of any process fragment or set of process fragments.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 11
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Business structures, especially on large enterprises, are quite stable. This stability relates to real business assets behind these structures, such as production facilities and employees. Business processes express relations between these objectively existing business objects. This implies stability of these processes.

To scrap process entirely, one must sell or dismiss production facilities, fire workers and take other similarly drastic measures. But even in this case a company may have other production lines, which will still use similar processes. Even in large restructuring, processes, as a rule, survive by just partial rearrangement of their elements and relations. Total elimination of a process typically requires literal extermination of an organization, which s quite an exceptional case in economic reality where actives typically just change ownership and undergo an evolution, rather than experience literal destruction.

In BPM practice discarding of process is typically associated with less drastic scenario and merely implies a change in modeling methodology or utilized BPM tool rather than elimination of the process itself. In this case, scraping a process is an indicator of insufficient qualification of BPM team, which discards valuable process knowledge instead of careful reworking and preserving its value. Even in case of change of BPM platform most processes from it can be well migrated to new BPM environment. As a rule, discarding of processes is a dream of a software vendor, which tries to sell a new BPM system and discard all previously accumulated BPM knowledge in organization as unnecessary garbage. Productive approach implies evolutionary reworking of processes instead of revolutionary scraping of them.
Comment
  1. John Morris
  2. 1 year ago
  3. #4565
Good analysis @Boris, systematically expressed as "clean slate" (Case No. 1) or "evolve" (Case No. 2).
Considering case No. 1 ("clean slate"), restructuring is probably not so un-common, given the rate of corporate turnover for the past several decades (one symptom of this is the fact that most Fortune 1000 companies have literally 100's of separate and heterogenous ERP instances, the legacy of such restructurings).
As for Case No. 2 ("evolve"), you mention "valuable process knowledge", what I've referred to above (following Autor and Polanyi etc.) as the importance of the "tacit".
Let's consider both cases at once though. Your introductory comment is salutary for management, specifically that "business structures are quite stable". Such stability is the context of any process governance. In this day of "fetish for the agile", it's a good place for management to start.
Thank you, @John. With present euphoria of digitization, we often loose a sense of reality. It is not so crucial when it concerns teenagers playing computer games. But it is far more dangerous when digital aberration impacts management. It is always useful to remember that behind BPM diagrams and processes exists real business, which they manifest. Of course, we should exclude degenerate cases (alas, quite often happening in practice) when a business model has no relation to actual business at all.
  1. more than a month ago
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