Traditional BPMs (Business Process Management software) has a strong focus on business process documentation, somewhat of a focus on business process improvement and very little focus on business process management.
This tells us if you want to manage business processes and do a better job on process improvement you need enhanced BPM software or BPMx software.
Let’s start with the basics – the purpose of business processes is to allow organizations to increase customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction, however difficult this may be to measure, is what allows a business to stay in business.
In case you haven’t noticed, it has become more difficult to build, improve and maintain customer satisfaction. Brand loyalty is no longer something organizations can count on and with the Internet, customers can do research, reach their own conclusions re products/services and, in many cases, procure goods and services globally.
The other bad news is the nature of knowledge work is not such that it can be guided by ‘best practice’ protocols, so any BPMx software you acquire needs to be able to handle unstructured work as well as structured work. This brings you to the realm of ACM (Adaptive Case Management).
If you think about it, there really is no difference between a process that comprises a linked set of “best practice” process steps, a process that is developed on-the-fly and what might appear to a casual observer as no process at all (i.e. a seemingly unlinked number of ad hoc steps).
It’s all just a question of state of maturity. Best practices are typically tried-and-true, evidence-based protocols. On-the-fly “invented” processes where steps are carried out by knowledgeable and experienced professionals can be the basis for future best practices, and, with some analysis, unlinked steps can be linked and assessed and promoted to best practices.
None of this will give you the missing “M” in BPM for any process that is complex and includes steps that require specific skills for performance.
Enterprise Resource Allocation (ERA) software when linked to ACM (Adaptive Case Management) software allows you to accommodate traditional structured “BPM” processes, invented processes and pure ad hoc process steps.
Here is how it works.
Build your process maps by defining and linking steps. Each step needs an instruction component or cross reference for consultative purposes, one or more routing attributes that define the skill(s) required for performance of the step, and one or more forms that can capture data relating to performance of the step (i.e. ranging from a simple “Done” checkbox to a set of forms that can accommodate structured data).
Next, you need software that is capable of carving up your process maps into individual steps that ERA software can use to guide the processing of instances of your process maps.
You will also need to inventory all possible “interventions” and place these in a “menu” to facilitate ad hoc processes of one step.
Now, the ERA takes center stage, automatically posting steps to the Orders’ InTrays of users who are capable of processing such steps.
Steps post, users take action, steps clear from their InTrays. Supervisors are able to exercise oversight over individual user/group workload to level/balance and re-balance workload.
The ERA automatically builds a log of completed steps and posts next-in-line steps to the attention of the appropriate users.
A parallel data feed goes to the organization’s data warehouse for reporting and data mining processes.
The loop is closed by taking results from data mining and using the information to build new processes and improve existing processes.