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What is the key to process agility?

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For companies to stay competitive, they must constantly update their BPM processes.  In a question I asked Thomas Olbrich in this podcast (see page 3), What is the key to process agility?

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  • You need to build Change Management capability, which means structuring this work also as processes. For this you must use a process technique focused on human interactions - workflow is too rigid, case management is too loose, project management is too focused on tasks, and none of these allow the work to cross organizational and management boundaries. In other words, you need Human Interaction Management (HIM).

  • This is an easy one :-). All Process Models should be built on top of "services" to make them truly agile to required changes.

  • Imagine you want to add an extention to your house - which is a sort of agility.

    Usually, you would look up the original plans drawn up by the architect to determine which walls you could knock down, where you wound need to increase stability and then decide on how to build your extention.

    In BPM we tend to start with asking an architect to survey the house to create a (new) plan of what's already there. By the time he's done that, he'll have spend most of the money you had originally put aside for the actually building tasks. In theory you're agile, in practice ...

    I'd say that agility is the combination of knowing where you are and knowing where (and how)you want to get to next. If one of these elements is missing or requires too much effort you'll only get the impression of agility but never its execution.

    You might also look up the forum discussion on how much time should be spent on process discovery (http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/ebizq_forum/2011/05/how-much-time-should-be-spent-capturing-the-as-is-of-business-processes.php)
    and the results of a recent survey we did on process awareness (http://bit.ly/e6MNyB)

    Thomas

  • The key to process agility is putting control of the process into the hands of the people closest to it. Yes, the ones that understand it and work with it every day. Too many times we see companies create and implement these elaborate and complex solutions that require teams of analysts and developers to maintain and modify it. Just because a process is complex and critical does not mean the solution has to be equally as complex and confusing. A process cannot be agile if no one really understands the system and it is difficult to modify and update.

  • The architecture of your enterprise BPM system -- see http://www.slideshare.net/samarin/architecting-enterprise-bpm-systems-for-optimal-agility-presentation

    From slide #4:
    - Experience shows that business wants separate requests for change to be implemented quickly

    - These changes are typically small (from the point of view of the business) and unpredictable (from the point of view of IT)

    - To carry out these changes easily and in a managed way, BPM systems must be properly architected & implemented

    Thanks,
    AS

  • Agility is a human property and not that of a system, machinery or a house. Therefore a system could be referred to as 'agile' if it supports human agility.

    The immense bureaucracy and technical manpower needed to modify BPM defined processes today cannot be referred to as supporting human (the business user) agility. The initial effort to setup a process infrastructure including reusable backend interfaces (SOA or not) is neccessary to map non-agile technology to the ones that supports it. But SOA in itself is nowhere near agile.

    The non-technical business user has to be empowered to create and modify processes - including all process resources - as per defined authority. To ensure that IT and business speak the same process language I propose a business architecture, but it is not a must for supporting agility.

  • The key to process agility is re-evaluating processes, refining them and above all innovative thinking. But, there is a second part to this, and that is having the solutions in place that allow these process changes to be implemented rapidly...

    Process agility shouldnt be seen to be tied to your software implementation, though it often is because of our choice in software solutions. Process agility is about the business being able to identify and change processes. The best way to do this is to re-evaluate them and to incourage innovative thinking, which could very well mean starting a fresh from a high level. This is something I talk about in a recent post

    http://andrewonedegree.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/all-in-the-process/

    However, we need to recognise this problem from both ends. If the business end can redefine processes, then the IT end needs to deliver solutions that enable these process changes rapidly.

    Unfortunately as Max points out, many systems are caught up in far too much bereaucracy, which means the systems capabilities to adapt to the business need is, well rather poor, which in turn ruins the businesses capabilities at implementing process changes. This means that effectively, in these cases, IT hampers business and process agility...

    Just as a business needs to re-evalutate and innovate business processes, IT needs to deliver solutions that are highly adaptive to the need of the business, and the end user...

  • Continuous Improvement process (CI) is a calculated act for process agility and sustainability. CI is a practice that attempts to improve products, services and the associated processes. The efforts of CI can be toward incremental improvements or end-to-end enterprise level improvements happening all at once. Value stream processes are constantly evaluated and improved based on their efficiency and effectiveness. CI as part of BPM can be structured to fit the operational and cultural environment of the organization and allows for participation of stakeholders at all levels in the organization.

  • Business process simplification and streamlining should be performed before implementing IT. Too early implementation of IT solutions such as CRM can mean that poor legacy processes become embedded. Some of the best process agility gains come from stepping back and asking why we're doing this?, do we need to do it?, do we need to do it differently? Ask the Who, Where, When, Why, Who, What and How questions first.

    A company with agile business processes can quickly reconfigure these to meet new threats and opportunities.

    See also http://businessprocessagility.com

  • process agility is a critical competitive advantage. Superior business processes lead to lower costs through workload reduction, and increased revenue through quality improvement and faster time to market. Process Agility Consulting has been called upon to assess and improve internal processes for a number of leading companies

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