2009-08-25

Linkedin: Failure to manage processes can become expensive

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I think, this is an example that the use of BPM is repeating "Pitfalls of automation" (see a good article in http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hangar/2883/automate.html ). Another sign of this repetition is some discussions about human processes vs automated processes.

In my experience, there are neither only human processes nor only automated processes. Each automated activity within a process should be encapsulated into an "error-recovery loop" which may include a human activity. For example, a fully automated conveyer at a car factory has some side lines to "do" some cars manually.

A fully "automated" process may have a human task to watch the process - in the same way that an observation window allows one to observe the workings of a turbine.

Each human activity is surrounded by automated activities - similar to a good secretary who prepares documents for a boss and later takes care about them.

So, to comment Thomas' list:
- Don’t only rely on automation,
-- more automation requires adequate controls (also automated)

- augment it with appropriate process management methods,
-- In addition to production (or horizontal) processes, I recommend to develop some controlling (or vertical) processes; the latter helps people to validate execution of production processes.

- define proper rules for process managers that don’t only cover system functionality but also address process results,
-- controlling processes may signal potential problems to humans as well as propose some adjustments. For example, an assurance company guarantees that each claim is processed in less than N days (i.e. there is an SLA) and claims over 50$ are checked manually; when this company receives a wave of claims, a controlling process by detecting this wave may propose either to increase the staff for checking those claims or to adjust a limit (from 50$ to 100$) so more claims will be treated without manual check.

- responsibility and accountability should play equal parts in process management jobs and should address clearly defined processes,
-- who is responsible for a process template, a process instance, a process activity.

- don’t design your processes for the sunshine case only – also look at process risk management issues.
-- fault-tolerance, error-recovery, comprehensive traceability, etc. are important for BPM design and execution; actually, the power of BPM helps us to address those issues in different ways, e.g. if a problem is caused by a user then a super-user may receive a task to resolve this problem.

Thanks,
AS
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