Friday, September 28, 2007

Came across the new BPM institute magazine,, and found the following diagram:

Some observations:

  1. It's first of all a nice overview of the improvement frameworks existing today!
  2. For some reason I always get a bit tired of the arrogant tone of voice of the Omega-6 and CEM/CEMM supplier (now Bennugroup). Well, I guess the above diagram tells enough - no trace....
  3. I am glad to see Lean high on the list. In my opinion a great framework.
  4. It would be nice to see this broken down by industry - for some reasons, in Finance, Lean is only slowly cathing on.
  5. It would be nice to see this broken down by "reason/goals for improvement". My suspicion is that we can link goals and methods still quite a bit (visibility - balanced score card, EFQM - Quality, ISO - Compliance, etc)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

From organisation chart to process chart

When business analysts come into a new business, they need to quickly understand the structure, people, products and processes in the company.

One of the key things I usually ask for is the organizational chart (aka organigram, organogram).
As a side note: it's amazing how often I either get incomplete or outdated diagrams. I wonder in that case how the heck people in their own organization understand the structure, and can place themselves + link themselves to the goals of the organization. So much for knowledge management, in such a simple form!

In these process-orientation days, I have found organization charts more and more disfunctional. What do you get?

- Powerstructure/reportingstructure
- Functional area's and departments (but often functional departments support multiple processes, and only parts of it)
- Names of people

The thing is - the basic question: "What does this company do" is not easy to answer. For a process-oriented person (like me :-)), that is often difficult - I want to see the chain of actions that lead to results for customers, and their interrelation + the people responsible for the different elements in the chain. Stuff that not easily can extracted from the organization chart.

So - can we come up with a new standard? The processchart, procesogram? Some high-level, I understand this in 1 minute, easy to draw and maintain diagram?

That quickly answers:
- External stakeholders
- Key transactions
- Chains of actions/process areas that support and fullfill transactions
- Key people responsible for parts in the chain, chain accountability

I challenge the reader - do you know something like this??

Some of my thoughts:
- The dutch "Demo" method ( offers a very concise diagram (organisation construction diagram) - however, this misses the accountability structure.
- In the method of Cordys - there is a business model

Curious if other people have a better diagram technique!

Five areas you need in your process architecture

Whether you are trying to understand processes enterprise wide, or just for a small department, in my opinion, there are always five process areas that you should consider.

Here in diagram:

1. Operational Processes

Processes in this area are considered core to the organization''s goals. They make up the business model of the company and focus on making customers happy, by procuring, producing, selling, marketing and servicing products/services. The value chain of your company.

2. Supporting Processes

Although not core, these processes facilitate all the other process areas and are often of crucial importance. Think Admin, HR, IT support, Finance, Legal, QC/QA.

3. Supplier and Customer processes

From an outside-in perspective, it is very important to understand (and help improve!) the processes of your main outside stakeholders: your suppliers and customers. By understanding their processes, you are able to help improve them, which in the end, will lead to competitive advantage. Model these processes from a supply chain perspective - optimize the chain in total.

4. Management processes

These processes steer the other processes (and cover the plan, check and act of the Demming cycle). They form the process control layer in your business.

5. Change processes
Yes, change is a process to. In modern days, change will occur more and more often. A repeatable framework for change, aka a process, will help you to become more agile: when a change is needed, all people will know their role and responsibility, to enable the business to respond fast. The change process includes detecting the need for change, understanding it, designing it, and implementing it, including all impact on the people and technology in all layers.

The 5 competence-areas for real process transformation

I often use this model to explain but also check if a company is well positioned to achieve succesful process transformations - the 5 competence areas:

  1. Process orientation
  2. BPM technology
  3. Change management
  4. Process improvement
  5. Subject matter expertise

1. Process orientation

This competence area is what I would call the typical "BPM as a discipline". It asks for people, supported by methods and techniques to see the processes that are embedded in the organization, see the interrelation between them and the alignment with the busines goals, and see opportunities and risks in the as-is process situation. It asks for people that understand how interventions in process, people and technology can help the company to perform better. Concepts, methods and tools that people should be able to understand/use are for instance:

  • Business model - linking goals, business services and processes
  • Business architecture
  • Process architecture
  • Business case - TCO of processes, sourcing
  • Process models for operational processes, supplier/client linked processes (supply chain understanding), management processes, supporting processes and change processes
  • Information architecture - what information concepts are used, and in which step in what process is what information needed to perform the step and what information is delivered
  • Performane measurement and process control models - what to measure when (based on CSF's and KPI's) for whom and to control what risk - and the possible steering that management can do when measures ask for action
  • Business rules - what rules and knowledge drives what decisions in the processes
  • Methods for analysis of processes, and problems-cause analysis and knowledge

2. BPM Technology

IT offers many powerful innovation possibilities. But, people are needed, with the ability to see the possibilities and potential benefits. This requires competences in the technology, including:

  • Business process analysis technology, to support people to model / visualize processes
  • BPM Suites - automated process coordination engines
  • BAM - process intelligence
  • WFM - Workflow management, often as part of the BPM suite, offering functionality to support people performing tasks in the context of a process
  • Case management - again, functionality to support people performing tasks in processes, where the processes are more difficult to predict and model, and part of the process execution is based on people knowledge and decisions at run-time
  • SOA - a way to architect automated processes, based on calling services
  • ESB / EAI - Enterprise Service bus (or SOA grids) and other ways to deliver functionality and data needed to perform processes or tasks in a process
  • STP - Straight through processing, where the process is coordinated and executed in a totally automated environment with no or very limited (exception handling, sample checks) human involvement
  • BRE - Business rules engines (or in EDM terms: platforms for Decision Services)

Important to note it that people are needed that can think outside the "tool". E.g. we do need people that understand specific vendor technology (BEA, IBM, ARIS, Oracle, Cordys, etc), but we also need people that see beyond the limitations and design patterns of these tools, and understand the bigger "process model, execute, measure, improve" needs and features of your business.

3. Change management

Process transformation is a change. And change, asking people and their supporting systems to change, can be hard. It's an area often forgotten - many BPM projects are, unfortunately, run either from a technology perspective or an architecture/blue print perspectice. Change is not following a design-implement paradigma, and asks for people oriented interventions - two-way communication, training, coaching, steering, etc. It asks for people with competence in:

  • Change management
  • People management, development of people
  • Project management
  • Requirements management (as-is, to-be)
  • Design, simulate, evaluate, test, learn

4. Process improvement

I am very happy that process improvement is slowing turning into a art and science on it's own. In fact, improvement can come in a number of impact/scope combinations:

  • BPI - Business process improvement : small changes within the current processes, e.g. removing or reshuffling tasks, tuning business rules and tuning work/workforce-assignments
  • BPT - Business process transformations: medium to large changes, were processes are analyzed and thoroughly adjusted, including BPM/Case management/STP automation
  • BPR - Full scale process redesign, with often a total new look at product-market-channels orientation.

Beware - do not let a simple business analist or architect design process improvements - it will lead to nothing. Process improvement asks for people with skills in:

  • Outside in thinking
  • Measurement & benchmarking, statistical process control
  • Lean
  • Six-Sigma
  • TOC
  • Operations Research and modern Logistical concepts (JIT, Kaizen, Flow, Pull, Agility)
  • Simulation

5. Subject Matter

Whenever you start a process transformation programme, make sure you involve the subject matters. The people you need, are people with extensive knowledge of

  • Your company's internal structure, network, power grid and culture
  • Your current process portfolio
  • Your products
  • Your customers
  • Your suppliers
  • Your legal and compliance environment

I hope this list can help you, as a checklist. Try to make sure you covers these skill area's. Whatever you miss - will mean risk to your transformation project. Risk is okay, as long as you are aware of it.

Being goal and result oriented

Today I saw an add, with a sentence that lingered for a while:
"Innovation is an illusion, until you actually do something about it".

I remember, while studying, that I read the excellent book by Goldratt, "The Goal", about the Theory of Constraints. The thing that stuck was actually a more basic concept: whatever you do, be aware how it relates to your overal goal. Something that in modern management sometimes is called Alignment.

I have been involved with many projects and transformations, and I have always tried this. When I was still more involved into IT/software development, my motto was: "In the end, it's about working software for a happy business".
To my surprise in many situations, I had to fight for this motto. The countless meetings, email conversations and phone conferences where people forgot what we were really striving for, it is amazing.

So, ask yourself: what is it that you REALLY try to achieve. What's your goal?
Are you in IT development? Working software, for a happy business!
Are you in IT support? Working software and empowered users, for a happy business
Are you in process improvement? Better processes!
Are you in change? Real change!

All the rest, the blabla, the politics, the countless reports, the discussions, sure - they are often needed. But they are not the goal. So make sure - know your goal, and, whatever you do, ask yourself - is it helping us forward to our goals?

What's you goal? And what are you doing? Aligned?

A personal transformation

It's been a while since I blogged, but that has to do with a large personal transformation. One that will definitely impact all my personal processes :-)

September 16th our first child Hannah Rosa was born. Mother and daughter are doing fine!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The challenge of being a BPM specialist

As a "process therapist" I encounter many processes in trouble.

The most difficult one is the "But we have always done it like this" or "still in the dark" processes.
The trouble with this is to make people understand that there is a whole new world out there, which will soon replace your business, because customers will simply switch. A world of new practices, new technology, and new demands.

I often encounter these processes in organizations with an almost monopolistic nature, where customers are almost forced to accept the service, simply because of the trouble to switch.
Think - utilities companies - water, electricity, national phone company, internet provider, mobile phone company with the 1 year subscription lock-in, your pension provider, the law, mortgage handler, insurance company, car repair dealer.
Sometimes arrogant, mostly naive. "We have always done it like this".

E.g. it's normal that....
- Customers need to wait weeks, sometimes months on requests
- Things get lost, and are found again
- No insight in metrics such as progress, workload, speed
- If customers call, they need to call back later, because it takes a lot of time to findout the current status (and we can't call them)
- Decisions are taken, but no one knows or tracks why, or even evaluates the business case behind the decision
- Processes and channels are there for the company's efficiency, not for the customer "openinghours: 9:00 - 17:00, closed in the weekend", "no, we can not react to email" "please press XYZ, for ..... The waiting time is YY. This call will cost you XX per minute. There are 40 people before you in queue" "yes, you will need to fill out this form, even though we have all your data already"

We all know these types of companies, and those poor processes in there. And the even more poor customers having to deal with this.
I'm often amazed - how can the people working there, have become used to this, and think it's "normal". The boiling frog metaphore comes to mind... (cook them slowly and they won't notice and get used....until it's too late)

What to do? Can BPM be an answer? The answer is a complex and yet simple one:
Yes, but you need leadership from local managers that understand that they have a growing issue and have the courage and committment to really do something about it.

Without this, forget it.

So if, as a BPM specialist, you encounter the "we have always done it like this" type of process, find the leadership, grow it, test it, and let go if it's not there...There are always other companies that do understand the need for process improvement, and your BPM expertise is very welcome there!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

SIG Pam articles - open

I came accross this site through Sandy (

A recent entree with some great research articles, freely published: