Today our guest blogger is Garth Knudson from Handysoft (www.handysoft.com). Garth is going to speak today about how the process project you are tackling should dictate the tool you use to automate them. Interesting and comprehensive. Also please feel free to download the latest whitepaper from Volkmar Volzke and New Pace Consulting on “People, Process & Execution” at http://www.processgenie.com. Enjoy
BPM software has progressed from a niche solution-enabler for automating administrative processes to a strategic business platform for standardizing and optimizing mission-critical operations.
As a result, organizations around the world view BPM as a way to create visibility into and control over many types of business processes. But as they begin applying the principles of BPM, they discover that “designing” or “modeling” some processes is difficult or next to impossible because of their dynamic nature
Our experience suggests that 20-30% of business processes adhere to formal or structured workflows. The other 70-80% are semi-structured or completely dynamic.
If your experience mirrors ours, then business processes fall into 3 major buckets:
- Structured – You know all the rules, policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities of every process participant. Rules are locked and loaded. Process scenarios may include procurement, T&E, and accounts payables.
- Structured + Ad-Hoc – Particular work items require outside opinion. You punch-out of the structured workflow into an ad-hoc sub-process, then jump back-in once obtaining the right information and/or approval. Process scenarios may include case management and policy development.
- Dynamic – You know where the process starts and ends, but the steps in the middle depend largely on the requested task. Scenarios include action tracking, correspondence management, and project management.
Unlocking the value of BPM for structured processes – visibility, control and productivity – to the other 80% of work that is ad-hoc or completely dynamic requires that organizations determine the right approach to process automation as well as the right BPM platform to support the methodology selected.
Since processes are innately different, organizations should consider adjusting their approach to business process automation based on the above business process scenarios.
Approaches may include:
- Formal Approach: Discover (Requirements)à Define (Model, Rules) à Execute (Deploy) à Optimize (Analyze, Improve)
- Dynamic Approach: Execute (Deploy Dynamically) à Optimize (Analyze, Improve) à Add Structure (Model) à Execute (Deploy in Structured/Dynamic Process Definition)
Notice that the formal approach requires modeling prior to execution. Modeling is one of the most expensive steps to business process automation. If the dynamic nature of your business process undermines quick/efficient modeling, then the ROI of BPM becomes distant or untenable.
The dynamic approach is more like email – there exists no structure more than knowing the people involved in their essential roles. But with email, you quickly lose visibility and accountability, the two real benefits of BPM.
If the above premise – processes are not all alike but all should be open for automation and tracking – is true, then the BPM platform you select should enable process execution despite process type.
- Structured BPM – These tools give you a modeling environment where you can design the workflow, add business rules, develop and tie-in forms, which together ultimately create process-driven applications. This is the norm. Most if not all BPM Suites offer such functionality.
- Ad-Hoc BPM – Semi-structured BPM tools extend process design and execution flexibility to support ad-hoc jump-outs from process activities. They may also offer discussion groups, wikis and other features for human-to-human collaboration. Keep in mind that an ad-hoc workflow is normally serial: only one participant can act at a time. While retaining process-related forms and data within the process instance, it cannot create parallel tracks like email. Ad-hoc process management increases the overall flexibility of process execution, but sometimes does not go far enough to keep process participants completely inside the process instance in order to retain overall visibility across structured and dynamic work.
- Dynamic BPM – Dynamic process management lets you execute a business process without prior design or modeling. You initiate a process just like you would in a formal BPM setting. However, you let the users, those you select to participate, determine how they reply and whether they include others to help completed their respective tasks. As a result, the business process definition may determine process initiator, but business process instances vary based on process source, category, deadlines, and user participation. Dynamic BPM is really a paradigm shift.
Ultimately, you want your approach to ensure success in the most cost-effective way. Most BPM tools can help you with the structured workflows, but very few can help you support and capture dynamic workflow execution.