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Should a business be organized by processes?

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Something that Max J. Pucher brings up in his blog, Keep IT Simple: Should a business be organized by processes?

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  • Businesses should be run in a way that lets processes - however good or bad they may be - realize their full potential. Dare I call this management or even business process management?
    To the extent that process management fails because of organisational hurdles, the organisation (almost always static and thereby in conflict with process dynamics) should the aligned to processes. And that leads us to ... process and business architecture?


  • A business should be organised by the goals and strategy it's set out to achieve, how it wants to achieve these goals is determined and shaped by the set of processes needed. You could argue that a business is like an onion, it has many process layers, peel them back and you'll find another until you get to the core (the goal/ strategy) of the business itself. Cut it straight down the middle and it should be fairly transparent and simple in how it operates.

    "You can’t simply set a course to reach a certain point." says Max ~ well, technically you can, how you get to that point is up to you, however simple or complex the route.

    "To the extent that process management fails because of organisational hurdles, the organisation (almost always static and thereby in conflict with process dynamics) should the aligned to processes..." says Thomas ~ actually the reason process management fails is that BPM is the entity that has become static against a fluid and dynamic organisation, not the other way around in this 21st century.

    Until BPM evolves out of the dark ages I'd argue that I would not be using BPM to organise my business and process landscape right now....

  • I can see the need to organize and have structure according to process. The more mature and process centric an organization becomes the more they may find the need to organize in such a way that helps them gain more and more benefit from the processes. This effort to organize by process is not one that you can do easily and certainly not at the begining of your process journey. However the more and more process becomes a major part of your business culture the more this will happen naturally.

  • An Enterprise is organized around a vision, that is implemented through strategies. Operations implement strategy - the organization of resources (people, capabilities and inputs/information) to meet objectives/goals – who does what work when and how.

    Unless ad hoc or self-organizing, work is structured by constraints. An app or process is merely a domain container for a specific set of constraints against people, capabilities and inputs/information that facilitates and/or adds to the work that needs to be done. Sequence is only one form of constraint and it's fairly limited as implemented in flowcharts. Composing by constraints is a more powerful abstraction.

  • Simple answer is NO. Businesses have goals, targets, vision and a strategy of how to get there etc.

    processes are just the things in place that get a business to that goal, they should never be more than that, and they should never define "how a business chooses to do business". Thats down to the business and regulators..Processes should be shaped by business needs

  • What else should it be organized by? Reporting lines and hierarchy?

    Goals, strategy, vision etc are guiding principles. Teams, departments, functions and processes are organizing principles. The problem is often that processes are seen as a set of tasks, or actions, that are programmed into a system. Therefore all possibilities, exceptions and inputs need to be known before the process ever takes place, this is unrealistic for most true end-to-end processes. The fact is processes are simply the things an organization does in order to achieve it's goals. They may not be documented but they still exist.

    The degree to which a process could be considered an organizational object will be based on how well the participants recognize it as such. To get to this point some level of management is required. This is unlikely to happen with the type of 'BPM' generally associated with that term. I believe that is what Max is driving at.

  • Every company has processes (indeed to reach goals, strategy etc). But, it's a companies own choice to really see those processes and choose them as a vehicle to reach that business goals.

    And I would say processes are not a bad way to steer a company because:

    - processes should create the results your customer wants, you need internally or you have to create because of law
    - So your money is earned because processes are executed
    - Your money is also spend in processes
    - Your employees are used in processes
    - Systems, information is used in processes

    But sometimes processes are seen as something rigid, a model or even as a (workflow)system but, if you want to see processes as "the things" that create the useful results for implementing your strategy and reach your goals, I would say yes.

    And processes might be steered straight through, more flexible. That doesn't matter as long as you see them as "resultmakers". And if they don't create something useful you can even think of deleting the process.

    Then we really talk about improving BY process.

  • Business Process Management should not be treated as an "inside-out" model for operational improvement. You manage processes for the sake of exceeding the customer's expectation at the lowest possible cost. A businesses customer experiences the processes of that organization at various points. I believe process management is about the customer experience and meeting their requirements. If you take an "outside-in" view of the world then better aligning the organization to the customer makes a ton of sense.

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