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Anne Stuart’s BPM in Action

Michael Dortch

Going with the Business Process Flow – And "Taxing" Business Process Failures

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As reported by ebizQ, OutlookSoft Corp. announced the availability of a new Business Process Flows (BPF) Marketplace. This is basically a "community repository" that gives users of the company's OutlookSoft 5 performance management solution new choices. Those users can configure BPFs for their enterprises based on the BPFs included with the software. Or they can browse the BPF Marketplace for BPFs constructed by others, but closely aligned with specific business requirements at those users' own enterprises.

BPFs, according to OutlookSoft, add performance management features to traditional workflows and managed business processes. BPFs can therefore help users spend less time tweaking software, and more time actually managing and optimizing their businesses.

By my lights, OutlookSoft's BPF Marketplace is both a potentially valuable announcement for OutlookSoft users, and another harbinger of the continuing confluence of business analytics, intelligence, and process and performance management and optimization. (Whew!) BPFs are, in fact, elemental "maps" of business processes and their interdependencies. So they should aid any efforts to capture and document business processes, or to assess their effectiveness in real life.

In addition, the ability to seek out BPFs that can be easily adapted to specific needs and goals could help many OutlookSoft users achieve some highly desired but often elusive goals. These include "out-of-the-box" business value and more rapid "time to success" and return on investment. So if your company's an OutlookSoft user, you should definitely check out the BPF Marketplace. If your company is not an OutlookSoft user, you might want to check the software out – and to ask your current performance and/or process management and/or optimization software vendor about their plans, if any, to offer anything similar. And as always, I'd be passionately interested in what you're told and how you react, so please let me know.

Meanwhile, since it's almost time to file your tax returns (or extension requests), did you know that cosmetologists are required to have government-issued licenses, but that tax preparers are not? This may help to explain why the U.S. Department of Justice is suing 24 people at five Jackson Hewitt Tax Services franchises. Franchise owners and their colleagues allegedly fostered an environment that encouraged the filing of fraudulent returns, and then turned a blind eye towards the fraud, according to numerous news reports. The Justice Department claims the fraud resulted in more than $70 million in revenues lost to the U.S. Treasury, and seeks to bar "the franchises and other defendants from preparing tax returns for others."

Jackson Hewitt, which has more than 6,500 locations nationwide, claims that the 125 supposedly involved in the shady practices represent only about 2 percent of the company's total revenues. I infer that this is supposed to indicate that the problem is not that big a deal, at least to the company's overall financial performance. However, I believe that those who are caught and punished for filing the fraudulent returns might have different views of the severity of this problem – a problem caused, I affirm, by failed and inadequately enforced business practices.

In related, similarly disturbing news, more than 500 U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) laptops are reportedly missing, while many others are poorly protected by weak, easily cracked passwords, according to news reports. The IRS says there have been no reported cases of private personal or financial information being compromised or stolen as a result of these problems. To which I add one word: "yet."

Make sure business processes at your business reflect ethics that wouldn't shame your parents, partners, or spouses. And make sure those processes come with consequences, and are enforced, and are clearly documented. And also make sure that every user of every computer understands the need for both strong passwords and constant vigilance over corporate intellectual property (IP) – especially where personal or private information is concerned. And a happy, relaxing Tax Time to you and yours!

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Business process management and optimization -- philosophies, policies, practices, and punditry.

Anne Stuart

I am the editor of ebizQ.

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