Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Tale of Two Processes

BPM becomes more critical than ever in most of organizations today, some call it as technology’s third wave, some may think it takes fifth discipline, because BPM underpins business’s capability, and capability will decide business’s strategy and affect business execution.

There are also different process terms coined out: lean process, or intelligent process, here, we brainstorm a tale of two processes:  robust process and dark process.

1. Robust Process

 Robust process means the higher level of process effectiveness and efficiency. It goes beyond process automation, or even process improvement, it also means process optimization and process maturity.

The 20 characteristics of robust process:
- Availability
 - Accountability
- Reliability
- Maintainability
- Usability
- Agility
- Repeat-ability
- Detect-ability
- Security
- Data and Process Integrity
-Consistent high-level performance
- Self-recovery & Self-repair
- Anticipated vs unanticipated
- Scalability

Robust process also means more broader concept:
(1) A set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole,
(2) A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network

Robust Process takes more than  a single 'process owner', but everyone who has a vested interest, which usually means the whole organization and not some silo or functional entity either.

Robust process may take out of box thinking, one may need step outside the process domain to think about robustness.

The robust process means there's risk management well embedded into process, to make process and business as a whole more resilient.

The robustness of process also means: there're robustness of loyal users, usually enable innovation, empower employees, and deliver measurable business result.

2. Dark Process

Some may call dark process as “unofficial process”, which means that these are not identified, recognized, sanctioned or supported. We know they exist, but they are not “visible to management”.

Some also observe: creative people and innovative organizations will be empowered to solve ever changing problems around them ... and those believing in the fiction of uniformity, will call that work "dark processes”.

That being said, It doesn’t make dark process right or wrong. they are  problems,  also opportunities, and probably bigger than we think. Most of what we do in a social setting & work settings are not explicitly known. Even the people who perform as part of a dark process don't necessarily know why they are doing so. Like riding a bike, the exact movements necessary to keep your balance

It is perhaps the next good practice. Instead of reducing these processes, business should expose and understand why they exist in the first place. If they exist because so called 'best practice' or innovative initiative, then removing them erodes business success. Perhaps Dark Processes are the cool things we can find, and rebels are responsible for their existence, they are the processes that are not designed in the ivory process tower

What is called dark processes is simply what keeps a company running against its organizational restraints. Process reflects more the increasing power of process technology to support processes, and the desire to reach beyond the old fictions of what an organization does, and attempt to fill in all the details

Still, like “shadow IT” or architecture debt, there’s opportunity and risk, the effort can be put to shine some light on these dark processes, if it’s process innovation, the governance may help amplify and share the best practice, if it causes security or compliance issues, it need be eliminated.

Either robust process or dark process, today’s BPM need touch enterprise's body and heart, make business more agile and flexible than ever.


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