Process design is the ultimate experience. If you lay down technology on top of some poorly activity composition you are just fooling yourself and hurting the company to change and vault forward.
Derek Miers, aired an important post about choosing the right BPM Technology partner to dance with. Pity that most managers responsible for business transformation cannot properly evaluate how a BPM system will speed up “time to market” your change initiatives. I consider an unprecedented move from Derek to wrote such a post, where he exposes how easy it’s to get fooled by IT vendors when it’s the time to deliver or how implementation is tied to a governance model that collides with your enterprise culture.
For those that are used to do some hands on when new releases are shipped in the market (not on system demonstrations about the classic, no value, purchasing process to buy ball pens) you realise the pain that is to design and automate with modern and advance process execution requirements. Unfortunately, this grey matter, turns into black when it’s time to make change happen and the enterprise is waiting that the code is compiled, bug free.
How to design the Next Process
Link and relate any kind of object on user demand
Two years ago, a customer came with an interesting request. We wanted the possibility to spark any process definition from nowhere. We meant any. In his vision, workers needed to have the possibility to relate processes even if when the running process did not had the purpose to allow such a connection (imagine I am dealing with a complain and at the same time the customer wants to know about the latest marketing promotion). Today, this concept goes much more further. People want literally to connect any information that they use in they reasoning to help others involved in process execution in order to bring context. It’s like bringing explicit knowledge on demand. Can your BPM system do this on the fly?
Pattern based design
Pattern based design is the ultimate challenge when implementing processes in a BPM system. This is more about architecture and thinking related, rather than to know how to draw boxes and arrows. Real pattern based design about to create and implement only once an abstract process for approval. With such abstract process definition, you can approve documents, invoices, purchase orders, lab reports. If you cannot implement process patterns, you will turn your process repository into a land full of duplications (some will name that process variants) difficult to provide proper maintenance and you will drive your enterprise to process silo syndrome (this process definition only works with the other).
Highly decoupled processes with built in API
Once that companies still manage to design processes driven by IT (the focus is on the interface, on the services, on the database connections, not on an optimised process) or driven by Business (that care about the way activities are composed and then make a purchase order to the IT department), result in the end there is a gap about system thinking approach to implement. Hence it’s necessary that each process definition have each own API in order to allow out of the box integration and interoperability (by default).
When I worked in manufacturing it was possible to interact with machines in the assembly line or the ones used in the laboratories. Despite in those days the communication protocols were legacy type, they were so simple to understand that it was possible to generate data used in analysing throughput and finding causes to manufacturing errors. Processes were never confined inside the system, the real “end-to-end” processes lives out of it. Social media opened a door to managers started to think about putting processes listening to social signs sources, as also, answering to them. But this only a part of the signal spectrum. In Logistics package tracking and fraud detection is an important aspect; in Health Care monitoring vital signs, integrate diagnostics and therapy directly from the machines, guide the doctors in the medical procedure is also an important aspect. Internet of things will become a reality over the next years with omnipresent devices communicating with systems, sensors and actuators across multiple communicating networks working in synergy to improve operations.
Intelligence in process management was typically related with measuring KPIs on top of fixed process instances. With the dawn of defining process structure during execution it means that the relative position where you make measurement are broken and the predefined reports do not make sense anymore. On the other hand it’s virtually impossible to define for each process instance a report, still you can measure by default the time perspective on top of the process patterns the instance was composed with, there are many more dimensions like resources, conformance, cost, that cannot be directly measured even if in the process definition metadata is used. Semantic search, ambient intelligence, sentiment analysis, on top of big data and machine learning is the way forward.
This post was based on BP Logix’s Process Director implementation.
Thank you Berlin for the divine inspiration. It’s time for you do by yourself the next process.