Foreword: I have written various posts in the past that discuss the typical problems that can be solved for the business by using a BPMS and process automation. I thought it was about time to consider the challenges IT have to manage when not using a process centric approach.
Organisations need to change their focus from being functionally driven to being process driven to be really successful in their adoption of BPM. This is not always as hard as it first sounds.
Most of the organisational and technical building blocks almost surely already exist within the organisation in some form or other. The challenge is to align them together in a consistent and continuous way i.e. using business processes, a BPMS and ensuring that cultural and human behavioural changes are well managed.
Paraphrasing Gartner, the typical characteristics of functional driven organisations include the following:
Organisational roles and responsibilities are functionaly aligned
Managers have visibility that is limited to their functional areas
Business is very dependant on IT to schedule application changes
Functional tasks and process hand offs are implied causing fragmentation
Costs are managed by functional area
Risk management is done using gut feel and relies greatly on experience with limited numeric evidenece due to lack of integrated and trusted reporting information
The organisational characteristics for a process centric organisation typically include:
Roles and responsibilities are aligned to process acitivities
Management visibility is based on an end to end business process understanding
Business is less dependant on IT for small changes to business rules and process tasks
Functional tasks and process hand offs are explicit, therefore reducing the occuraence if inefficient and broken processes
Risk management is done using operational metrics and simulation ensusing a proactive approach rather than reactive
Foreword: Have you ever had one of those days where you have been out of the office and returned to an email inbox that is creaking at the seams? I am probably lucky in that I can manage my inbox proactively by using my PDA. Some would argue I have sold my soul to the ‘always-on’ personal time vampire, but that is tale for another day…..
In a world where email is commonly accepted as the primary electronic corporate communication mechanism, employees often find themselves having to filter through huge amounts of irrelevant emails to find those that are really intended for them. Assimilating the various pieces of information we deal with every day, prioritising the results and making decisions as to which to action, is a natural and logical process, one that we all do as a matter of course.
A problem however arises when the occurrence of these pieces of structured and unstructured information exceeds a threshold that is not always manageable by the individual. The resulting information overload can create an unintentional human bottleneck that may impede the normal workings of the organisation. On an individual basis this may seem like a manageable a problem but, consider multiplying this scenario by 50% of employees in an organisation on any given working day of the week.
This problem is validated by research from The Radicati Group into Information Overload and Corporate Email.
“In 2006, the average corporate e-mail user received 126 e-mail messages per day, an increase of 55% since 2003.
If users spend an average of one minute to read and respond to each message, this flood of e-mail traffic will consume more than a quarter of the typical eight hour work day – with no guarantee that users actually read the messages that are most important.
Additionally, if e-mail traffic continues to increase at this rate, the average corporate e-mail user will spend 41% of the workday managing e-mail messages in 2009.”
I came across an article in which the author raised some interesting points about how process automation can contribute to ‘Green IT’ initiatives.
The author suggests that Goverments should mandate the use of workflow for these initiatives and identifies these potential benefits:
Reduced paper use
Collaborating and efficiency gains (by improving processes)
Carbon footprint reduction
I agree that there is great potential in automation for these type of initiatives but as a pragmatist I would suggest that organisations do not always fully understand how and when to address automation and the the Green IT agenda to ensure quantifiable business benefits.
Foreword: Recently I was doing some research into IT operational cost management and specifically how discretionary spend can be increased for use in new and innovative projects across an organisation. I came across some interesting data and have summarised some of my thoughts from a white paper I was writing on how a BPMS can support this type of initiative.
Organisations are continually under pressure to do ‘more with less’ and this is especially true in organisations where IT departments are seen by the business as being unresponsive and a cost centre, rather than ensuring innovation. This may be further exacerbated by external pressures such as competitors encroaching on existing markets and global economic challenges.
Research has shown that CIOs continually have to ensure that business demands are aligned with available IT resources and budget constraints. It is generally accepted that at least 80% of IT resources and budgets are spent on ongoing maintenance. This creates a dilemma for CIOs and IT departments who have to find ways of reducing operational costs, and designing and delivering solutions more effectively.
“78% of large enterprise budgets are swallowed in existing maintenance–keeping the lights on”
“40% of enterprise scale companies are seeing IT budgets reducing in real terms” Source: The Bathwick Group, Driving business value from IT, Dec 2007