With reference to my recent article called “Avoiding Transformation Program Fails”, operational efficiency and effectiveness need methods to avoid madness.
Transformation Initiatives need tools at generic workflow/workload management platforms.
Method: CPM for Once-Through Initiatives
CPM is the method of choice for once-through implementations, ACM/BPM is the method of choice for on-going transaction workflow/ workload management.
CPM handles what, where, who, when and why – you get to see full project/initiative detail from the start of any initiative through to the end objective (i.e. typically “ribbon cutting”, followed by a settling-in phase).
CPM puts a strong focus on predictive analytics in that ES-EF-LS-LF (Early Start, Early Finish, Late Start, Late Finish) and “float” trending will show time-spent plus projected time-to-completion and cost-to-date/projected cost-at-completion. CPM also handles resource allocation, leveling and balancing (R.A.L.B.).
Method: “Cases” for b2b, b2c, c2b Initiatives
In respect of Digital Transformation, particularly in the area of b2b, c2b and b2c, it is usually not possible to anticipate forward task timing, or costs.
What organizations do have is an inventory of process templates (linked tasks) that can be hosted at “Cases” (i.e. “Case” being nothing more than a cursor position in a relational database management system).
Cases allow Case Managers to manage Cases.
This sounds silly but it emphasizes that Managers in hierarchical organizational structure silos do not “manage” initiatives that span multiple silos.
Case allows staff to come out of their silos and perform work “at Cases”. When they are done, they go back to their silos.
Let’s pause a moment to improve our understanding of “work”.
The purpose of “work” is to convert inputs to outputs. This generally requires the expenditure of time and money.
Work ties-up or consumes infrastructure/resources. What this means is you cannot contemporaneously, in most organizations, take on all promising initiatives over any highlighted timeframe. Few organizations have unlimited infrastructure/resources.
Next, whereas there are many ways to get from “a” to “b”, analysis of work in any area of focus typically reveals a short-list of more efficient/more effective ways of performing work. These are workflow “best practices” (not necessarily industry best practices, not always a corporation’s best practices, not always an individual’s best practices).
The method of choice for representing a linked suite of tasks is BPM (Business Process Management). My view has always been that BPM evolved from CPM (Polaris Project 1957).
Cases are capable of hosting best practice workflow templates and workload management engines.
The way to get to workflow/workload management is to map out best practices, compile the resulting workflows, roll these out as templates made up of linked tasks and use workflow/ workload management software to post the right tasks to the right people at the right time for information/data collection. The actors perform the work, record any needed/useful data and commit tasks. The workflow engine immediately, absent imposed delays, posts the next-in-line task(s) for information/action.
Cases also accommodate workload management.
We know from behavioral analysis that staff like to micro-schedule their work. Given a task list with a one-hour window between, say, two meetings, a worker may today prefer to finish off a few small tasks OR advance the status of one large task. As for tomorrow, the same worker may prefer to do the opposite.
Best to give actors some flexibility in the performance of work for other than “production line” work.
Whilst individual workers are micro-scheduling their tasks, Case Managers frequently need to re-allocate, level and balance workload (i.e. worker “a” is on vacation; worker “b” has too many allocated tasks; a customer requires that a project be accelerated or deferred).
As with CPM, methods, tools and a platform are needed for the management of Cases.
The methods of choice for workflow management are BPM/R.A.L.B. but we need an additional method that consolidates efficiency (i.e. doing work the right way) and effectiveness (i.e. doing the right work). The additional method is F.O.M.M. (Figure of Merit Matrices).
F.O.M.M. decreases subjective variability in the assessment of progress at Cases – i.e. given a set of best practices, Case Managers and staff will routinely deviate from these (skipping tasks, re-visiting already-completed tasks, recording data at not-yet-current tasks, inserting tasks not in any workflow template).
Now for the Platform in “methods/tools/platforms”.
Workflow/workload across Cases (most workers work on several Cases at a time) requires a Platform (i.e. an e-workspace per worker, comprising a Task InTray; ways and means of micro-scheduling tasks; facilities that enable collaboration across workers/Case Managers; easy viewing of task instructions; easy recording of needed/useful data at Cases\tasks).
When designing a Platform, make sure you involve Change Managers – these folks have direct, close experience with end-users of Platforms. Change Managers know that if a new Platform does not make work easier than at a previous Platform, it will be difficult to onboard users and keep users on board.
Bottom line . . . .
BPM and R.A.L.B. positively impact efficiency, ACM/R.A.L.B./F.O.M.M. positively impact effectiveness.
A workflow/workload Platform allows workers and Case Managers to achieve efficiency and effectiveness.