Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Absorbing the BIG Elephant. Part 2

This is the part with most fun (at least from out-side); absorbing the processes. To be honest after working almost 20 years in the ICT world – I’m sometimes really shocked about the fact that companies doesn’t know how they are working inside. I’m not talking here about the higher management who thinks to know how their company is working, but about the people on the floor.As most companies are a sum of departments or teams, which are all working within their own safety zone, they just know what’s happening in front of their face. Take a sample: (again I’m still surprised about the number of companies who are using paper and paper-based flows to do by example a holiday request or expense note claiming) somebody request holidays on a paper form, this paper form is then dropped in the tray of their department/team manager. If you’re lucky you have a good relationship with your manager and you tell him also about your holiday request, otherwise if you’re one of the black-sheep’s in the team … it could disappear also … but this time in the paper bin. My point here is: processes are not stopped when you don’t see them or when a task is not your responsibility.Let’s go back to our BIG Elephant and take a high level overview of the process part. If we analyze the potential issue to absorb this big and very important piece, we can define some important potentials pitfalls here:

1. Missing the total overview of the process – across teams/departments. In fact we have to start here from the big end-to-end business process and slices this back down in smaller pieces.
2. Everybody looks at their own important part – not on what’s happend before or what’s coming after. So you should know the consequences of what you’re doing, and how it can influence the next step.
3. Hiding Actors or non-visible influencers. What or who can influence the execution of a process? In which way? What can be the consequences of it? As we are all dealing with people, customers and suppliers, we all know that real live/business isn’t going like we want it. A truck load with supplies and involved in a road accident, can lead to a big test of your exception handling or procedures.

It’s important to know your processes exactly, in the way they are running in real business and map them one-on-one to the execution. Having 25 binders with an outdate process documentation in a nice cabinet makes really no sense at all. Some companies are spending 3-5 men years in describing their business process using nice tools or standards like UML. It’s like carrying water to the sea!At the other side one of the main reasons why BPM-Related projects are failing, is the leak on knowledge of their processes or when you try to discover and improve them at the same time. Look back to our BIG Elephant, which is holding 3 big pieces; people, processes and information. Absorbing the process piece via discovering and improvement of your process will not work, as you may not forget your people slice. Improvement of changes means adaption of these improvements in the organization. If you want to absorb them at the same time, then do it in small controllable items: Think Big, Start Small!To be continued …