Friday, March 14, 2008

There must be 50 ways... to view your process

While working with quite of lot of different people in the area of business process management, I am starting to see the value of different viewpoints on various concepts.
One of these concepts is "process". And I want to share with you some of the views I have encountered. All of them have helped me to understand the concept of "process" in different ways, and (from time to time) have prevented me from blindness to certain factors.

Let's list them (and as always - I am very curious on other views you might have!)...
So... hop on the bus, gus!

1. As a transformation from input to output

2. As a operationalization of strategy ("great slides - but let's get to work")

3. As a series of events, activities and decisions (based on business rules)

4. As a social/antropological context for people working/playing together

5. As a means to delight a customer (or scare him/her away)

6. As some "trainable thing" that you can improve forever (faster, quicker, cheaper, better)

7. As something that can be ill, like a patient, and should be diagnosed and cured

8. As something for which you can define targets, then measure it, and steer it

9. As a means for intervention in human and systems activity

10. As a psychology domain, full of emotions, unconscious behaviours and interactions

11. As something (we think) we can model in a process diagram using graphical symbols such as BPMN.

12. As something that is way too complex and too adhoc to model usefully...

13. As something that allows various stakeholders to understand your business

14. As something that gives people context, clarity and safety

15. As something people sometimes cling to "this is the way we have always done it"

16. As something which has historically grown, but nobody can tell me why it is

17. As something you should automate as fast as possible, so you can fire all the people and save a lot of money

18. As something in which SOA/services can be orchestrated

19. Something you can label as best practice and copy to other organisations

20. As something that will always grow into complexity (following the rules of entropy)

21. As a series of resonsible people doing little things, that all added up define your competive edge

22. As something that is compliant to certain laws or certificationrules, or not...

23. As something that you can outsource (or view as your "core competency")

24. As something that can expose you to risk

Well, that's 24. Know more??

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

(Dutch only) Hulp gevraagd! BPM onderzoek gaande.

Hallo lezers,

Ik heb een verzoek.
Ik ben betrokken bij een onderzoek vanuit de Hogeschool Utrecht rond business process management (BPM) (ik begeleid hierbij een stagiare, sponsor is Capgemini, mijn werkgever).

Doel van het onderzoek is inzicht te krijgen in...
- De huidige activiteiten en plannen van bedrijven rond BPM
- De "maturity" van de BPM activiteiten
- De huidige en geplande inzet van BPM technologie
- Succes en faalfactoren rond BPM en BPM technologie

Mijn vraag aan jullie - ik ben op zoek naar mensen (uit bepaalde doelgroepen) die onze online enquete willen gaan invullen. Duurt ongeveer 20 minuten en er zijn "perks" - kans op wat prijzen (IpodTouch, boeken rond BPM).
En uiteraard een uniek inzicht in de ontwikkelingen rond BPM in Nederland (BPM onderzoeken zijn nog niet eerder op deze schaal in NL gedaan!).

We zoeken met name bedrijven (andere ook welkom):
- > 500 medewerkers
- In Nederland gevestigd
- In branches Financieen, Overheid, Telecom, Utilities ofbeursgenoteerd

En in die bedrijven zoeken we met name:
- CIO's of Informatie managers
- BPM afdelingshoofden
- Afdelingshoofden Processen & Organisatie
- Business en IT consultants bezig met BPM en/of BPM technologie

Als je zelf iemand bent, of mensen kent die aan deze criteria voldoen en je wilt ons helpen, dan verzoek ik je:
- Ofwel mij (roeland punt loggen apestaartje capgemini punt com) de contactgegevens van jezelf of deze mensen te sturen:
- Naam
- Organisatie
- Functie
- Emailadres

- Ofwel deze email door te sturen naar mensen die mogelijk geinteresseerd zijn in dit onderzoek en de uitkomsten ervan, en ze te vragen aan mij hun contactgegevens door te sturen (en laat ze jouw naam noemen).

Mijn dank zou groot zijn - mensen die ons hierbij helpen zal ik ook op de prijstrekking-lijst zetten.

NB: Deze contactgegevens zullen ALLEEN gebruikt worden voor het verzenden van het enqueteverzoek en zullen na verzending van enqueteresultaten worden verwijderd.

Alvast bedankt,
Met vriendelijke groet,
Roeland Loggen

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Process footprint - a new, green, element in BPM

Interesting - the link between BPM and the Green movement is there.

I stumbled on...

When definining and analysing processes I typically look at:
- Effectiveness/alignment with strategy
- Performance/Efficiency (cost, lead time, etc)
- Profitability
- Agility
- Compliance
- Customer satisfaction
- Employer satisfaction

I will add a new one: the environmental footprint of a process. As a logic extension of the efficiency - can we optimize the process in such a way, that we minimize the impact of environment..

For the dutch readers:
It made me realize that the COPAFIJTH abbrevation (see older post) for making sure all aspects of a change are thought through, needs an extension. Let's start talking about COMPAFIJTH! (Milieu as integral part of any change effort).

From current BPM patterns to the future patterns of BPM technology....

I read a number of recent postings on the various "BPM technology patterns": (bij Peter Fingar) and (by Jim Sinur).

(updated: Sandy - - pointed to the correct article on that I actually intented to link to. Thanks!)

Interesting typology of various BPM technology patterns - but, in my view incomplete and (a bit) outdated. STP, Workflow and Casemanagement is stuff that we understand now.
My interest is:
- What other (future) types of BPM technology patterns can we see ?
- How are the various patterns positioned?

To answer the second question, I tried to create a model, based on two dimensions.
See the following diagram:

It tries to map out BPM patterns on:
1. The process - how structured is it?
With "structured" I mean processes that we can map out, in terms of predictable events, activities and business rules. Based on incoming data (from events and activities) during the execution of the proces, certain activities are performed and decision rules determine the flow. Example: quoting a new car insurance.
With semi-structured I mean processes that are more tricky to model - some of the business rules can not be formalized and stay in the head of people as knowledge. And some of the events might not be predictable.
Example: trying to decide on a complex insurance claim
Unstructured are processes (if we can still speak of process) in which in advance very little can be said on flow, events, activities and business rules.
Example: the way I clean my house ;-)

2. Who is performing the process?
In some cases processes can be fully performed by a computer, based on predefined rules and transactions.
Other processes need human activity, based on certain knowledge and the realisation that life is more fuzzy than a computer can handle (at this stage). We can see processes in which there is most of the time one person in the lead, performing work without a lot of communication during the execution of the activity. There could be more people involved but either they are working serially or they are working on separate process parts without direct contact.
And most complex are processes where people are collaborating together at the same time, working together on performing activities, making decisions, etc.

Now, if we use these two dimensions, one can map out a number of BPM patterns...

First the well-understood patterns ...
STP - Straight Through Processing - in which a computer fully handles the execution of a process. No people involved, hands-off. Great business case for high volume, low revenue transactions.

E-Forms - this is my entry level workflow. People fill in eForms, which are send around for approval, with not much (complex) integration or complex business rules. Think - reserving parkingspaces or rooms.

Workflow - this is the typical inbox, task, form, more complex business rules and back-end integration, with some process monitoring on top. Great business case for process control, compliance, worker-support and efficiency.

Case management - a lot of discussion on the defition on this one. My view: automated process support where one can perform tasks in any order, skip tasks, add tasks. Usually quite data & document centric. Great for loosely structured processes, where we want to keep control, and support the knowledge worker with a one-stop place for all work to be done, data, documents and activity-history.

Groupware - all solutions that enable sharing information (Wiki's, email, discussion boards). Very handy, but unfortunately it creates a lot of "setup time" every time you dive into one of these components, because the process context often is missing or is not easy to establish (what't this about? what't the status? what's expected of me, now?)

Automated BPM patterns of the future

I see CEP (Complex Event Processing) as a new area, that might grow into a BPM pattern that can support complex interrelated processes. Think inter-process coordination (don't process a new policy, if we just got word that the client is in financial trouble) and more complex rule based event driven stuff (analyse this cloud of data, and determine appropriate pre-defined actions, that need to be started)

Agents and AI will provide possibilities to go even further. I am thinking of self-learning systems, that can formulate a process, based on clouds of data/events, perform it, and if needed adjust it....

Then - Collaborative BPM patterns of the future

What happens if you have a process which requires many people to work together to perform a process? Currenly we know the answer - manually planning of meetings, meeting minutes/recording of decisions, and email - lot's of email.
Typical "knowledge worker" processes are currently not well supported by BPM technology. We are far from the "high performance workplace".
Some patterns I see:

Collaborative BPM
Process engines that support working together around a structured process: automatically planning a meeting, calling a client, opening and recording a chat/IM session. All still activity focused - making sure the process can finish.
(Note: Collaborative BPM is also used as a "design time" concept, in "together defining a procesmodel")

Wilder stuff. Process engines and collaboration platforms that can handle less structured processes in the form of "processes on the fly" with "stories" that the group can create, evolve and finish. Where messaging is structured (assignments, decisions, data). See the thoughts around "Human Interaction Management".

A platform that would enable users to manage all communication around a process as well. Unified, connected to the process as context. Could probably support both CBPM and HIMS.
I see a platform in which I...
- Can manage my presence (for these types of processes, please contact me via phone of IRL unless it's weekend, than only contact me if status is RED, via SMS)
- Can route voicemails, calls, emails, documents, linked to a certain process context and activity context

It this still vague? You bet. I don't know where it's going - but I can see that the current IT support for working together is not sufficient. That troubling me. .. the growth in information overload, the growth in "setup time" to get (re)started, and the economic reality that productivity improvement in knowledgeworkers intensive processes has not significantly grown, while this area of work (services) is outgrowing manufacturing by the day...
To compete in the next 20 years, something will need to be done...

Let's check in 5 years!