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What is the best way to fix a broken process?

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Taking a step back from the last question Can you cure a bad business process with BPM software?, where many responded in the negative, what is the best way to fix a broken process?

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  • 1. Get agreeemnt that it is broken from stakeholders
    2. Get those people in live workshop and map it, with external facilitation
    3. Identify improvements (manual & automated)
    4. Identify impact on business risks and regulatory compliance
    5. Agree changes in metrics to reinforce behaviour
    6. Implement changes (changes in manual activities and changes to automated systems)

  • I think we're back to Connie's "How long is a piece of string" comment from a couple of weeks ago, only paraphrased as "It depends on what's broken."

    Human errors creeping in ?
    Little visibility of process ownership ?
    No clear handover of responsibility from one person/ area to another ?
    Processing bottlenecks ?
    Badly designed software ?
    Badly designed user interfaces ?
    Badly designed paper-based activities or forms ?
    Lack of regulatory understanding ?

    The best way to fix a broken process is to understand all the pieces before you decide to glue it back together again. The trouble with breaks though is that they're never quite as strong as they originally where, so perhaps 'fixing' a process isn't, metaphorically speaking, as good as designing a new process entirely from scratch.

  • Not with traditional BPM software, but with BPM the methodolgy then yes....

    If you want to cure it with software alone, you simply cant, even with adaptive platforms. A bad process can only be fixed by analysing it, identifying what makes it bad and then refining it, or redesigning it...That applies to traditional BPMS and highly adaptive solutions...

  • To fix anything you need to understand why it broke. A process can break for many reasons and my esteemed peers have already listed good number of them above.

    To add my bit, the biggest challenge a process faces is external influences. Customer behavior or service delivery expectations change and one can easily get caught into looking too much within when the problems may lie elsewhere.

    Ex-Gratia and Force Majeure factors can also influence a process behavior.

    Its like medical cure, you have to recognize the symptoms correctly, then diagnose them appropriately and then cure them.

    Hence, Prevention is the best cure to fixing a broken process. Alas, its easier said than done.

  • I would add a couple of questions to the start:

    0.1) Understand why the process is performed and what it is trying to achieve.
    0.2) Agree that the process actually needs to be performed at all.

    There are many wasteful activities inside processes. And in some cases, a deeper look into the business can reveal that some processes are broken because there is no agreement on why they actually need to be done.

  • All good answers here already.

    A process is broken when it fails to deliver the service expected. The question is, "to whom?". Many processes as per the organizational norms would be perfect, still not delivering what an end customer would expect it to.
    http://ashishbhagwat.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/when-processes-are-broken-fault-lies-elsewhere/

    Many times, they are just not designed to benefit the end-customer but driven by those SLAs that only measure the parts and not the end-output. http://ashishbhagwat.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/slas-drive-mediocre-services-not-customer-delight/

    And of course, contribution from all the other human errors, bad implementation of a proper process, lack of visibility and control, etc..., and we have broken processes.

  • ...Or you form a team of all the above members and assign them the task to fix the broken process :)

    I am sure these answers have been impulsive initial thoughts submitted and that most of us would have covered most of the questions raised here to fix the broken processes.

    What this also highlights is that the process that is broken is also most likely an outcome of the contributions of multiple stakeholders at the time of creation.

    Would all these stakeholders be available when trying to fix it?

    Is it likely that the reasons for the process to be formed as it is in the first place be documented well enough?

    Hence, your revised assumptions while fixing the processes must be carefully made.

  • In allusion to the popular saying one might ask "If it's broke why fix it at all?"
    As others have hinted when a high-level process breaks it probably means that the internal or external environment has changed. Fixes to the process in terms of reductionist governance will probably end in a rut as you get stuck with better solutions for a wrong outcome, so to speak. Therefore it seems more appropriate to define the outcome first and give process owners the means to accomplish it. This implies first the power and authority to make proper decisions and second to provide them with all related information in a transparent, accurate and timely manner.

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