Organizations supposedly hire knowledge workers because of a feeling that workers generally know what to do, how to do it, who has to do the work, why it needs to be done, leaving where and when as run-time issues because of scarce resources and changing customer priorities.
Organizations then often tie down these knowledge workers with bureaucracy / red tape, poor tools.
No wonder motivation and engagement decrease.
Seems to me an infrastructure where a) strategic objectives are at least semi-quantitative and where b) operations activity is at all times supportive of strategy, is a simple formula for success.
It’s hard to get to this level of maturity if you have no strategies, no infrastructure at the operations level for stating objectives and tracking progress toward meeting these, inefficient processes, and improper tools.
Once these hurdles have been overcome, it should all be about 3-tier scheduling – software initially allocates resources based on process map templates, workers micro-schedule their work, supervisors level and balance workload across workers.
And, EVERYBODY maintains a local focus on “project/case” objectives and a wider focus on making sure that no operational activities are undertaken that do not directly or indirectly contribute to strategic objectives.
People like success and will be motivated when they know that their contributions count and engaged when they have venues/tools/support networks that allow them to be efficient and effective.
Here is how most workdays unfold for knowledge workers and their supervisors. Study this carefully and put in place an environment that is capable of supporting the following three (3) levels of scheduling, monitoring and control.
Auto schedulers are able to allocate process steps when steps have predefined Routings. Clearly, we don’t want names of workers as Routings but rather skill categories (i.e. nurse, nurse practitioner, tax accountant, purchasing agent, master electrician). BPM logic can keep track of the order of posting steps to user InTrays and the ideal approach if you have, say, five (5) shift nurses, is to broadcast any “nurse” step to all five.
The 1st to “take” the step “owns” the step and is expected to complete the step. If a hand-off is necessary (i.e. in-process task at end of shift) a specific re-assignment can be made. In some cases, an in-process task may need to go back the resource pools for pickup by another worker.
At any given moment during any workday, a knowledge worker is likely to have a) fixed time commitments (i.e. meetings) plus b) a to-do list that may include time-sensitive tasks (e.g. again taking an example from healthcare ,“breakfast medications”).
As for the balance of a worker’s to-do tasks, some may be more urgent than others but the only way for a worker to know which tasks have high priority is to have tags at such tasks that indicate the level of priority (e.g. “urgent”). The tags may have been placed at the tasks by the worker, by software, or by supervisors.
The key point is workers must have the ability to micro-schedule their tasks. If a worker has a 9AM meeting that lasts 30 minutes, with another at 10:30 AM, the worker may decide to finish off several small to-do items or try to advance the state of a single large item.
While individual worker InTrays are being populated with structured tasks by software and by ad hoc tasks invented by workers, supervisors will generally be aware of workload across workers and may elect to level and balance workload by re-assigning some tasks that are pending at one worker’s InTray
It’s easy to see that task management is greatly simplified in an RALB (Resource allocation, leveling and balancing) environment.
It’s easy to see how difficult task management is in the absence of an RALB environment.
We indicated there are two success factors, scheduling of work and next, setting and maintaining a focus on objectives.
Unless you have end-to-end processes, objectives obviously cannot conveniently be “parked” at a virtual end point that all processes dovetail into.
In many businesses today, we no longer have ‘processes’. What we have are ‘process fragments’ that get threaded together by people, machines and software at run-time. Process has become a late run time phenomenon – you may only have a “process” the moment a Case is closed.
Real work is made up of a mix of structured and unstructured (i.e. ad hoc) interventions at Cases so we need a way accommodates EVERYBODY and maintains a local focus on “project/case” objectives.
If you research this, you will find various algorithms (percent complete, remaining man hours) but none of these work when you are unable to assign durations to forward tasks within a Case. Aside from not knowing what some of the tasks are until later, we have the problem of guesstimating how long each is likely to take.
A suitable, flexible approach to assessing and tracking progress toward Case objectives is a methodology called FOMM (Figure of Merit Matrices).
Bottom, line, if you want to practice ACM/BPM make sure your work environment accommodates RALB and get up to speed on FOMM.