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Is real-time process guidance the next big thing in BPM?

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A month back we covered, what's next for BPM in 2011, and a few did mention social BPM, and in this blog, Clay Richardson says, "We want everyone to adopt speedy Maria's best practices now that we realize speedy Maria gets her tasks done 10 times faster than the rest of the team." So do you think real-time process guidance is the next big thing in BPM, and if so, what needs to be done to achieve it?

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  • Yes we believe that it is THE ONLY WAY. Process diagrams garthering dust on intranets, unused and unseen and not understood by end users are as much use as a one-legged man at an arse kicking competition.

    There are clients already implementing this approach and getting staggering benefits in terms of more effective and motivated staff.

    Just one example is BestBuy Europe / Carphone Warehouse used both in the restail stores and in back office operations.

    Summary of benefits

    Across 800 retail stores:
    -extra $80m in revenue
    -116% revenue improvement across stores
    -Improvement in Customer Sat measured as Net Promoter

    In back office:
    - Standardisation lead to 5% benefit
    - 1st pass improvement gave productivity 15%, 96% Lead time reduction, 88% reduction in defect opportunity

    How2 is their implementation and it is explained in this (12min) video http://bit.ly/gEWbVK with some really simple but effective approaches. Think of this as training video, not sales video.

    Does it work. Yes in retail. But there equal examples in oil & gas, banking, a steel plant and FMCG.

    It is the future

  • Let's not run away with ourselves here. Speedy Maria might get her job done 10x faster but she may also be making 10x the amount of small mistakes than the rest of the team.

    Plus what is the skills and competency gap of the team in real terms in order to meet Speedy Maria's wonderful attributes ?

    Real-time process guidance needs a lot more input and thought on the human aspects of process. You can automate the process but you cannot create an automaton of the person.

    The key term here is "guidance", not enforcement. Remember that when you're embarking down this road.

  • I find myself wanting a better definition of "real time process guidance" before having an opinion about it (but of course, realtime guidance sounds better than delayed guidance). To the user, the guidance BPM provides is "real-time". So this must mean something different. Can we define real-time BPM to include a set of features not already commonly understood to be supplied by BPM vendors? (or, at least, relatively new to BPM)?

  • There is strong movement in the business process analysis and business process management suite arenas to embrace this type of capability.

    We are adding human capital management and social BPM capabilities, allowing us to leverage intrinsic Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) capabilities to first detect top performers, and then determine why someone or something (Maria could easily be a whole team or particular office) is able to be more efficient or effective.

    Is it skills? Training? Experience? Social relationships?

    Using social BPM we then are looking to provide ways to allow others to discover that Maria is very effective – see suggestions as to why – and make it easy for those in the process to receive more training, have access to additional information, or provide access to the same experts or support group that Maria leverages.

    These techniques are common in call centers and we feel there is a great opportunity to give knowledge workers the same support. This is true not just for heads down processes but even more important for distributed processes supporting case management and other long running, people intensive processes.

    To address Theo’s point about piece rate vs. error rate, it is very valid. But error rate, rework, escalation, missed SLAs are all metrics that are captured as part of any leading BPMS and are just another attribute of workforce performance and would be factored into the overall equation.

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    How about the next "BIG" thing is to deliver results and get the right foundation for BPM to be a necessary component for achieving an organization's strategy?

    We constantly run to the "next big thing" without ensuring we have the proper foundation in place for success and continued adoption. Do we run to the next big thing because we can't seem to solve the "wicked problems" associated with this goal?

    Process improvement has been around for many years - it's time to make it indispensible to achieving strategy.

  • I think that the main problem with the 'next big thing' is that first there is no definition of what 'real-time process gudiance' is. Ian most probably thinks it is about showing people a flowcart and guide them this way.

    Others believe it has to do with adding real-time business data analytics to the process execution.

    I would think that real-time can only mean one thing and that is to empower people to do what they need NOW! And therefore while I agree with Elise that one key element has to be the ability to create a well defined, effective and efficient process, the question remains how that can be real-time when the BPM governance bureaucracy takes weeks to months for the slightest changes.

    Real-time must mean to bring all BPM facilities to fruition AT ONE POINT IN TIME. That time is the moment of taking a business decision that improves a customer outcome, which I call in my diction a 'leverage point'. It is the only place that a business can innovate in real-time. Empowering people to create and execute at those points would be real-time process guidance.

    Unfortunately the next big thing is not defined by what businesses need. It is defined by the marketing budgets of the large IT vendors and the money they spend on analysts and the media.

  • Great feedback from everyone. Forrester currently defines real-time process guidance as:

    Applying crowdsourcing techniques to deliver real-time suggestions and guidance for completing a particular activity based on real-time analytics and/or social network analysis.

    Currently, I’m working with my colleague Jim Kobielus (who covers analytics) on a report that will introduce the topic and provide examples of customers and industries currently applying and benefiting from real-time process guidance.

    - Clay Richardson

  • As usual we dont have a real understanding of what the next big thing term actually means. So often the same term means different things to different people, vendors and businesses.

    Real time process guidance for me means simply informing team leaders of how something is being done quickly, and letting team leaders update processes and guidance information accordingly. But to do so they need to be able to do this quickly and easily, so the platform needs to be adaptive. Also, we are talking about guidance here, not enforcement and alas, BPM is more about enforcement than guidance (so not sure how the two fit). We must remember that what works for Maria may not work for Dave...

    While I like process guidance, and being able to update that process quickly and easily, I dont like the idea of treating individuals / departments all the same. We may find Maria actually cherry picks her workitems, or that a particular department has more complex issues that often raise their head for similar work...So to presume a single rigid process works for all (just because someone works well with it) is simply wrong...

    I would prefer to empower these users with the tools and data they need to enable them to do their tasks quickly. Sure, lets see why Maria is working so well, what can we learn and can we update our process to help our agents more, maybe provide guidance instructions, but lets not enforce how each user chooses to work.

  • These days I’m involved automating transport requests process executed in Road Haulage Industry. This process is executed like broker process in share trading markets. People in the contact center receive a lot of requests, most are updated on hourly basis, the shipper changes quantities faster than the broker can fill a truck completely, and the broker needs to replay scheduling and planning process. The broker’s goal is to maximize percent of truckload capacity utilized and minimize miles of unload rate. There are some more but for case these are the most important. When the truck is full or almost full transport instructions are sent to the transport company and the truck pick up the merchandise and starts delivering.

    The example I bring is candidate for real time process guidance like Clay Richardson suggests because systems can provide help calculating complex algorithms do deal with such volatile environment. But wait, there still is a lot of human intervention. It makes me resembles the May 6th flash crash. You can have a powerful system detecting patterns in trading sessions but ultimately Speedy Maria needs to make decisions on the results system is suggesting. Ultimately going back to the transport request the system can indicate some kind of optimized itinerary but road conditions, urgency, weather conditions or other unpredictable factors can ruin what the system tell us to do. Thus is necessary that Speedy Maria makes some human decisions because if she is aligned with customer needs it will do the right thing. Let the system process huge amounts of data simultaneously that is what systems are for, give the opportunity to humans use our knowledge make the decisions.

  • A recent AIIM presentation had an amusing comment that touches on this topic: “Why do I know more about what my high school girlfriend had for dinner than what is going on in my organization?? On a more serious note, PLM and process evangelist Christine Longwell has asked, “Do we really need structured workflows if we have visibility and status??

    Here’s a high-level look at these and other conversations around real-time or social BPM:

    Social and mobile BPM: the debate continues.

    If customers today are mobile and social, then employees are, too. How are mobile technology and social media affecting workflow automation?
    http://enterworks.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/social-and-mobile-bpm-the-debate-continues/

  • I think it might substantially increase efficiency. A while back I started to search for reliable Business Process Guidance companies and stumbled upon Panviva - www.panviva.com. My company is now in talks with the company. Will post back if anything came up.

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