1. Peter Schooff
  2. Sherlock Holmes
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  4. Thursday, 22 December 2016
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Quoted from a tweet by Emiel Kelly that said: "Implementing best practices only assure your as good or bad as your competitors?" So what is your take on the business value of best practices?
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
There is extreme value from best practices because it establishes a standard or baseline that people can work off of. Coming from the Army Infantry, best practices (or standards) are the difference between life or death in a combat situation. While business is not necessarily life or death, having best practices for projects makes sure everyone is on the same page and understands what’s expected.

Having best practices doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from them either. There should always be flexibility in anything you do in business. Whether that’s a bpm application development, or the way training is conducted within your company.
Zack Kelemen - Digital Process Practice Lead at Rightpoint
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #3040
Your army example makes sense. I wouldn't call it best practices as seen in Business world. Just "agreed standards".
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #3041
or as Walter says "corporate best practices" also known as standard procedures ;-)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I thought this group did not like use of the term "best practices". Never mind.

There are "industry" best practices and there are "corporate" best practices.

If you implement industry best practices and your competitors implement the same, then, with everything else a constant, you are the same as your competitor(s).

Most corporations view their "best practices" as capable of giving them competitive advantage (i.e they think their best practices are better).

It follows that implementing your best practices puts you ahead, if your best practices are indeed better then the competitor(s) , , , with everything else a constant.

The problem is we rarely have "everything else a constant"

The takeaway is "best practices" are better than "worse practices" and a lot better that "worst practices".

I suppose we can say that every organization has 'best practices' - it's what they do (in-line, off-line / documented or undocumented)

These remain as "best practices" until they are replaced with "better practices".

I don't think anything I have posted here advances the state-of-the-art of BPM to any extent.
I was the one not liking the term "best practices" - hardly "this group" :-))

There actually was a 2nd dissenter.

"Best practices" are absolutely "common" in medicine, as is "Case" for insurance, law enforcement and healthcare but outside of these industry areas, we quickly get to problems trying to talk about Case.

Process maps, goals/objectives, templates, instances, even "run-time", all cause difficulty with some prospects/customers.

We have 8 products, all starting with Civer_____ and we still get calls from customers saying "Civer does not work".

This leads to "Go to About and tell me the product/release is",

Next, "What is the error?. Don't recall.

Followed by "What were you doing when the error happened ?. Don't recall.

We even had one gentlemen who asked "Why are you asking all of these questions? Answer: Trying to get an idea of what the problem is". Response, "Let's not waste time, just give me the solution"
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 2
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
(Did I say that?)

First of all the word "Implementing" matters. Otherwise it is just best theories.

And a little nuance might be reasonable. So my quote was about stealing or sharing best practices. Which could sound like a good idea in government (city councils). They all have the same goal: "serving the civilians" and there should be no competition.

Or within healthcare. Why not share the best way to treat a certain disease? (oh, we got Watson for that now)

So it depends on the type of processes. If you implement some best practice process (disguised as a solution in some kind of software) for some boring back office processes without any competitive advantages; I'm fine. I still hope organizations look a little further because the fastest way to improve your AP process is buying less.

That brings me to the fact that in your core processes, the process itself is not important in first instance; it's about the problems that are solved by those processes. If you are solving a unique problem, you have no competitors. Doesn't mean you have to improve your processes, because in the end you will always get competitors. With better processes.

Then process will matter. But would you prefer a best practice then? Maybe to cope with compliance things. But the really customer focusing things? I would prefer a better practice.
Sharing my adventures in Process World via Procesje.nl
  1. more than a month ago
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Patrick Lujan
Blog Writer
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
"Best practices" is a very subjective term, differs from one industry and platform to the next and, further, there are lots of different "kinds" of best practices, for -

  • process discovery
  • process design
  • process execution
  • software design, development and delivery

amongst others. That quote was, is Emiel throwing darts at industry norms as he is wont to do. Any kind of definition, establishment and adherence to best standards means somebody, somewhere is trying and how well they do or don't do is usually a function of execution and persistence.
  1. Emiel Kelly
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #3044
I think in my quote I was seeing best practice as process design (best theory) leading to process execution (best practice).

Which actually doesn't make so much sense . When I am executing a process with 5 people and someone "steals" the design and executes it with 6 people, it's not the same practice.

Shall we discuss the BPMN standard again?
The way it works is the process design yields a "best practice" template that you use to create instances at Cases and execution of the template instance within the Case, usually with some deviation that the performers perceive to be context/situational appropriate, gives you a Case outcome. e.g this insurance claim settled for less that we expected; this patient discharged early and did not relapse)

The best practice exists as a map, plan-side, as a template instance at a Case during run-time execution.

Each Case hosts a template instance plus any ad hoc insertions.

Goals/objectives at the Case provide guidance to the Case Manager the sequencing of work and leveling and balancing of workload plus guidance re when to close the Case. (i.e. once we have met a proper subset of the Case goals/objectives).

So, you are right, the best practice starts off as theory, but as you complete Cases, mine the data, improve the map, it gets to where it becomes a "best practice"
  1. more than a month ago
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Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
The “best” something implies a scope, domain, area – “best in its class”. Because this scope is usually missing then “the best” for you may be not “the best” for me.

For this reason, there are “good business practices” which are proven business patterns. Implementing them allows you to improve your bottom-line – similar to “chain is strong as the weakest link”, “business is good as its worst employee”.

But to improve your top-line is your unique job. Fortunately, with a good bottom-line, you will have more time to improve your top-line.

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Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I fully agree with Alex - "best" implies "scope". And, as per Emiel, scope/problem space is rarely the same, even within same industry.

When the problem space is narrow enough, optimization is predictable and best practice makes sense - see healthcare, social care, Army examples.

When the problem space is very complex and there's multiple factors at play - that can't be isolated via caeteris paribus scenario plays - then best practice is a joke.
CEO, Co-founder, Profluo
Good link to characteristics of the problem space. The Cynefin framework ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin_framework ) says:
'The *complicated* domain consists of the "known unknowns". The relationship between cause and effect requires analysis or expertise; there is a range of right answers. The framework recommends "sense–analyze–respond": assess the facts, analyze, and apply the appropriate good operating practice.'

It is necessary to mentioned as well 'The *complex* domain represents the "unknown unknowns". Cause and effect can only be deduced in retrospect. There are no right answers: "rather, instructive patterns emerge if the leader conducts experiments that can safely fail." Cynefin calls this "probe–sense–respond". '

Fortunately, BPM is able to convert a complex problem of “better management of the business” to a complicated problem “better management of the business by processes”.

Very interesting.

David Snowdon began work on a Cynefin model in 1999. Donald Rumsfeld may have been inspired by David's work when he stated at a Defence Department briefing (Feb 2002):

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/donaldrums148142.html

Someone else (I used to have the reference) invented "unknown knowns" (i.e. the organization has info but cannot find it at the time it is needed to make a decision that could have benefited from having the info on hand)

I think "unknown knowns" happen a lot in corporations
The "someone else" was Slavoj Zizek

  1. John Morris
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #3053
Heaven forfend - this is the first mention of Slavoj Zizek on BPM.com. The apocalypse is nigh.
@John.. The end will come from plastic bits breaking the food chain.

Stephen Hawking figures we have 1,000 years left before earth is totally ruined.

If you think about it, the last laugh will belong to the members of the Flat Earth Society.

Whereas we will have to launch rubbish into outer space, all they will need to do is push it over the edge.

My take is the aliens, who have been around for a long time and foolishly decided at some point to allow humans to exist in one of their dimensions, will finally get fed up and throw the switch to turn off the dimension we are in.
  1. more than a month ago
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Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Things do not have to be so convoluted.

We have objectives, you need to convert inputs to outputs, some of the work needs to be performed in a particular sequence [for this we revert to a "best practice"].

Other work is best not "shoehorned" into a rigid sequence.

We hire Case Workers to execute Cases and unless no human input is needed, there is an expectation that the worker will welcome orchestration from BPM (easier, less chance of things falling between the cracks), but rely on overriding experience/judgment to know when to follow the best practice and when not to follow the best practice.

What is essential is that you have in-line governance to prevent extreme, unwanted deviation away from best practices.

The way pulp and paper mills used to run before testing times were shortened is you used the best practice but highly experienced workers would "feel" the sheet and tell you if the moisture content was right - adjustments (ad hoc on-the-fly interventions) would then be made as quickly as possible.

At 2,000 meters per minute, you could generate a lot of waste if the moisture content was not right.

Today, as a result of real-time measurement of moisture content and servo adjusters, the workers are no longer needed.
RE "Things do not have to be so convoluted." an observation - it is simple to make something in a complex way and it is complex to make something in a simple way.
Agree... and when you spend a lot of time to make something simple for end users, they often get the notion they could replicate what you have done on the back of an envelope.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
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Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Best Practices mostly seem like a "Rule-Book"[Do's & Dont's].
And as many have rightly stated it is a subjective term. It depends on a lot of factors & criteria [infrastructure, landscape, customer, requirements, architecture & importantly the person who has quoted it]. Right for One may be Wrong for the other [situational]. In most practical scenarios it boils down to business priorities, exceptions and trade-off that take the precedence.
Having said that, there are few items from a BPM Implementation perspective that are standard guidelines / principles - critical for architecting and designing the process/system better. Define-Design-Develop-Deploy Process Guidelines. These Best Practices are like "Galvanizing" an Iron Rod [#BPM Impl.]
Goal is to
- avoid RUST/abrupt Application Disaster
- Improvise Maintenance
- increase longevity / foundation
- in case of an Enterprise Application - have a "Dignified Sunset" or decommission in future
- Smooth Hand-Off to Support
  1. more than a month ago
  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 8
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Best practice is a template or experience accumulated in previous BPM implementations. Any work can be started from a ground or by using an existing experience. As a rule, using previous experience is much more productive than starting from the ground. In this sense best practices in BPM can be considered as a sort of franchise and are very valuable.

However, as with any template, best practice is void without a gifted content filled into its placeholders as implementation. Here everything really depends on implementers. As with any practice or law, it can shine as a diamond in good hands and annihilate to complete degradation with ignorant followers.

Best practices are cornerstone of BPM describing essential metadata of the business. But their practical value entirely depends on the actual implementation data filled into these meta-models.

  1. John Morris
  2. 3 years ago
  3. #3054
Interesting implications re: best practice as void, waiting to be filled with tacit knowledge (OK, I was reading between the lines).

Just asking. . . Re "Best practice is a template or experience accumulated in previous BPM implementations" -

I get "Best practice is a template"

But, would you agree that most of the best practice improvements come from run-time data collected at Cases ("experience") where you get to see which parts of a template are being used and which ad hoc interventions are being inserted (i.e. you have a template that is used at many Cases, you find via data mining that users skip node 12345 70% of the time and you also find at these same Cases several ad hoc interventions that appear 50% of the time).

The experience seems to be to drop node 12345 from the template and add a new node to that template.

It's the word "implementation" that confuses me - if a template is referenced in 500 Cases per day, I would not be tempted to say there are 500 implementations of BPM each day.
John, thank you. You read my mind:)

Karl, very valid points! I think it is an iterative procedure:
1. You create or borrow from a "best practice template" some process.
2. You run this process and analyze execution through a kind of "process mining".
3. You improve template according to results of analysis. Run again and repeat this improvement cycle.
Under "implementation" I understand a practice of execution of a given process template in an organization. In fact, one and the same process can be run in different organizations in remarkably different ways. Individual runs of a process we may call "instances".
Yes, I use "instances" as well.

It is particularly relevant for importing data from the outside world.

You have to be able to reference "Case\template\instance\dictionary item\data value" because a Case can easily have several instances of the same template running contemporaneously or running one after the other.

No mention of instance and you have an indeterminatio, except that some data can be at a Case and relevant to all instances.
@Boris.. Important point re "execution of a given process template in an organization"

Right now, we most of our customers build their workflows, featuring their forms, their data element names, their rules.

No two sites are the same.

BUT, it is helpful to be able to let these customers trade workflows, and helpful to allow us to design workflows and make these available (either for use as-is or for editing/then use).

@Karl, This is exactly my point. Best practices in a form of metadata templates create essential level of abstraction over implementation details of a particular processes. While specific implementations are very agile and prone to quick changes with ongoing technology shifts, design preferences and subjective factors, metadata remain intact or very little affected by implementations. Well designed template can well live over several generations of technologies bearing its essential logic and business value.
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1. Best practices are good economics; in a given market one must have mastered the basics.

2. Best practices are good rhetoric; in a given organization the comfortable are held to account.

Outside of a given market and a given organization however (the question of scope, raised earlier), all bets are off. Disruption is an "advent" of what may become a new best practice. Best practices themselves are reifications, and one day's best practice is tomorrow's outdated textbook. At least with best practise, "knowledge exists" and there is justification for learning, not only rent seeking. I see best practices as therefore very positive, against the constant tendency to build walls, the better to have more time on the golf course.

Start with best practices -- and then figure out how to beat the competition.
Precisely.. you want ways and means of doing the right things, the right way, using the right resources where "right" typically refers, especially in medicine, to agency policy and procedure (we do these procedures and we do not do these other procedures), subject to AMA guidelines and Dept of Health mandated protocol.

Next we have minor variations per individual MD.

Prescribers are notorious for having different starting doses for meds for seemingly the same presentation. They ramp up differently, to different levels that may or may not exactly agree with manufacturer's recommendations.
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  2. BPM Discussions
  3. # 10
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Best practices are ones that empower people and here change should be encouraged to be consistently better than competitors. This is now possible with next generation BPM supporting software.
Sure, and it was hopefully possible with previous generation BPM supporting software otherwise a lot of people have been wasting a lot of time.
Certainly a lot of hopeium but also a lot of time and money wasted it will indeed must change ....
  1. more than a month ago
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Back in the days when I was helping Wall Street automate its trading activities, people would ask me if the things my colleagues and I were doing were generating profits for our employer. I'd simply shrug and tell them, "We've increased volumes by an order of magnitude. Whatever we're doing—making money or losing it—we're doing it ten times faster than we used to."

Implementing these types of systems would shortly become a "best practice" in the sense that these were now the table stakes: if you couldn't match the volume, you couldn't play. But whether or not such implementations produced good results for those who deployed them, well... (insert snarky comment here about how not one of those firms still exists in the same form it did then).
Scott's opinions only. Logo provided for identification purposes only.
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