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BPM in the Cloud(s)

Michael Dortch

When Processes Fail...and How to Avoid It

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What good are business processes, in the cloud or elsewhere, if they're not enforced or enforceable? Remember Lehman Brothers? "Too big to fail" and all that?

Well, according to published reports, the bankruptcy trustee reviewing what happened to that august company found that it had rigorous risk avoidance processes in place at the time of Lehman's collapse. It's just that in the face of the profits Lehman and its executives stood to make trading those collateralized debt obligations and other innovative instruments, they simply decided to ignore said processes. And there were not sufficient enforcement processes or technologies in place -- or sufficient regulatory oversight -- to avoid the avoidance of those risk avoidance processes.

And we all remember what happened after that. No need to review here. Too painful anyway. And not impossible to repeat.

Talk about a cautionary tale. And an extreme example of a challenge facing almost everyone at every business trying to build, deploy and enforce more effective business processes.

That challenge actually has two primary elements.
  1. Many if not most key processes are poorly documented, when they're documented at all.
  2. Many if not most key processes lack any compelling enforcement options.

You can't enforce what people don't know, and processes without enforcement are just hopes and wishes.

So what to do?

First, capture all key processes and store them in a repository, be it a "living document," a really big spreadsheet or a database. And make sure to review and update them regularly, and to enforce the processes that make all of that happen. Just like you do with your disaster recovery and business continuity plan and playbook. Right?

Then, deploy technologies that make compliance and enforcement of key policies and workflows consistent, pervasive, ubiquitous and invisible to users. Three examples of technologies that might help:

+ SmartCipher from Covertix. File-level compliance with and enforcement of information security policies and processes, as well as with industry and legal regulations, regardless of where the file is or who's using (or trying to use) it. (More on Covertix in my ebizQ post, "Your Business' Processes, Its Intellectual Property and the Cloud(s).")

+ Active Endpoints' Cloud Extend for Salesforce. It transforms processes and best practices into easy-to-follow "playbooks" that help salespeople to replicate the successes of others. (Read more in my blog post, "Cloud Extend for Salesforce: Jedi Mind Tricks for More and Better Sales.")

+ OpenConnect's Comprehend. A solution that automatically and invisibly discovers your key business processes, helps you to improve them and provides the real-life data that supports good business decisions. (More on OpenConnect and Comprehend coming from me soon -- stay tuned!)

Your chosen solutions and paths to success may vary. But it's imperative that you start the journey to effective capture, documentation, enforcement, retention and regular update of key business processes now, if you haven't already. Because you want your processes for doing all of the above in place and their evolution in progress before having to embrace any significantly disruptive new technologies. Like the cloud(s).

By the way, I'm doing some research into two interesting areas directly and deeply related to process management, in the cloud(s) and otherwise. One is online experience optimization (OEO) -- ensuring that every online experience is optimized for every user, regardless of device type or connection. The other is business knowledge optimization (BKO) -- how a business knows, uses, retains and leverages what it and its people know. You can help, and get advance access to summary findings, by taking my quick easy surveys.

The first survey asks four basic questions business decision makers need to be able to answer to achieve OEO. The link to that survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JJVTC6J.

The other asks which company you think offers the best overall online experience, and how your company compares to that company. The link to that survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WFCM2KR.

The third asks some basic questions about BKO efforts at your company. The link to that survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/P6KZKSX.

Thanks in advance for your support -- now tell everyone you know, please! :-)

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Michael Dortch blogs about the rapidly evolving synergies (and possible challenges) linking BPM and cloud computing business strategies at all types of businesses -- including yours!

Michael Dortch

Michael Dortch is a veteran information entrepreneur and information technology (IT) industry analyst, consultant, speaker, writer, evangelist and provocateur. He has been striving to empower buyers, sellers and users of IT solutions since 1979. Seriously! ;-)

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