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Can technology improve agility?

October 16, 2011

Daily question in ebizQ forum.

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Agility is a conceptual framework that can improve IT architecture and the enterprise architecture.  If applied as designed, agility can facilitate an iterative approach in development and strategic planning, promoting collaboration while encouraging rapid and flexible response to change which is critical in the current business climate.

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How can businesses benefit from or better use Business Process Management (BPM) software?

October 4, 2011

Only through acceptance and sound BPM structure can businesses benefit from or better use Business Process Management software (BPMS). BPM is a management attitude aligning business processes with the goals of the organization. Business Process Management System is just that – a system or application, regardless how robust, it’s a resource that should enable the holistic approach to process management – add value to stratagem. When the discussion is BPM my colleagues respond with BPMS, falling into the old scenario of putting the cart before the horse.

Let’s flip the question, how can BPMS benefit businesses? The very first prerequisite is there has to be organizational acceptance of BPM as a valued discipline focused on change. The organization as a whole, C-Suite, knowledge workers, partners, stakeholders, etc., have to understand that BPM is about visibility, understanding the value stream, collaboration, transformation and governance of processes; integrating silos in the effort to support business decisions. The BPMS as an organizational resource should facilitate the effort. The second prerequisite to achieve the latter is defining structure – rules, controls and matrices for business processes outside of the BPMS, automation of the right processes and effective change and information management. Like any other IT infrastructure resource its interoperability has to be seamless. Organizational goals and system expectations have to be clear, synchronized and manageable before benefit is gained.

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Which comes first, the content or the process?

July 17, 2011

Content is substance, message or subject matter that is parallel to the ideas, rules and goals of the organization. Within content are the individual items or topics addressed with in a publication or document.

Process as applies to this blog,  is the work, rules, and actions involved in the development and management of content.

When I think about it, the  answer is process comes first.  In creating content the preliminary actions involve research, analysis, etc., then the process of managing the content. In that scenario it is process – content – process.  If I’m receiving content, as in the case of end-2-end, the acceptance of the content is a process that would be modeled as an activity, possibly at the Start.

Here is an interesting read http://www.volacci.com/blog/ben-finklea/2010/september/01/content-strategy-process-phases-iii-v?nocache=1#comment-2724

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Is process governance important to BPM?

May 24, 2011

Yes. Governance relates to decisions that define expectations and verify performance. In most organizations governance is part of management or leadership processes. Governance communicates consistent management, cohesive policies, guidance, processes and decision-rights for application across the organization.

Business Process Management (BPM) is a strategy for agility, transparency and sustainability. BPM is a management approach focused on aligning IT and business processes with the strategic goals of the enterprise.

Governance facilitates the needed control of processes to insure effective management of organizational business processes – BPM. Because governance is control, it further facilitates quantity and quantitative measurements.

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What gain in productivity would you say is possible for a company new to BPM?

May 24, 2011

Any gains in productivity would have acceptance of business process management as a valuable discipline.

To achieve this requires adroit management with tactical maneuvers or best practices prior to implementation of BPM such as,

•Limit the scope, start small. Buy- in is easier.
•The business performance improvement must be seen as having high value towards attaining a performance objective.
•Clear alignment with important enterprise or business unit goals and strategies.
•Definition of and the means of measurement, using only a few metrics.
•Relevant process stakeholders working together to agree on the desired performance improvement goal.
•Fervent sponsorship to insure the project is done right and communication is across the enterprise.
•Getting the enterprise population involved, especially those involved in the value stream.

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e2e Processes Overrated, Don’t Think So

February 11, 2011

A colleague posted a comment to our blog on End–to-End Processes Challenge the Best of Us pointing out to two things: (1) our “examples display the domain goggles each specialist wears” and (2) he thought our definition “is fuzzy and open to high interpretation.” His opinion on e2e ; it is overrated, “each business unit should have the autonomy to develop its own strategy plan and process improvements, keeping within the scope of the overarching corporate plan; analyzing an entire arbitrarily end pointed process seems counterproductive for the dynamic organization.” Ok…

Starting with point 2, our response to e2e being overrated was and is; we disagree. When there is a need for change it begins with communicating the need for change; then identifying the what, how and the risk associated with the change and the impact to the enterprise. To effectively manage change and risk begins with understanding the beginning and ending of processes and all the activities in the middle as they move through the organization.

Listening to a presentation on change management processes, the presenter was right on with identifying Notification as one of the key processes in managing change. This is an ideal example for end-to-end. Without going into detail, Notification involves informing all business units that a change is required. In response to Notification each unit assess their activities as part of the value flow, identifying process changes they need to make and noting the risk and cost associated with the change. In organizations where the focus is sustainability, such a strategy brings representation from each unit to the table for collaboration on change and an understanding about how each unit’s e2e processes impact the processes of other units, as an aggregate. In this way we can agree with our colleague on strategic planning at the business unit level.

Here is a remark from Akio Toyoda of Toyota Motor Corporation that gives value to end-to-end processes. It is taken from the transcript he made to Congress regarding Toyota’s Quality Control incident of 2010. “We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organization, and we should sincerely be mindful of that.”

For point 1…unfortunately this is the way many business units operate, as silos. This is one of the main reasons Business Process Management and all its flavors have had the challenge of getting a solid footing in corporate operational culture, along with the lack of understanding of what BPM is and the importance of cross functional team collaboration. We touch on this in one of our blogs, BPM, A Learning Curve with Clients. I think addressing point 2 touches on point 1.

BTW, we did reply to our colleague prior to this blog.

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End-to-End Processes Challenges the Best of Us

January 27, 2011

Scrolling through threads in a BP discussion group about end-to-end processes it was clear that we all had a different take on what is really end-to-end. Can you imagine what would go on in the mind of a prospect looking to make some changes in processes if he were to speak with at least three us?

If he were to speak with a software engineer he would more than likely tell him end-to-end processing is input of data, capture data, data processing and generating output. If the question is put to a department manager the answer would be end-to-end involves a sequence of defined business processes entering his department or owned by the department, performing all the necessary steps until finished or an event triggers passing the next step in the process to another department. Now a COO or CEO would more than likely say end-to-end processing is all business processes that are performed within the enterprise.

End-to-end processing refers to coordination in performing a sequence of defined steps, also known as processes, to achieve business objectives, from the beginning to the end. Keeping this in mind, end-to- end process improvement projects can be as wide as the enterprise or as narrow as within a department.