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Is a business capable of managing its own processes?

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A question suggested by Chris Taylor, Is a business capable of managing its own processes?

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  • A business is the only one capable of managing its own processes. If IT is running the process show, they aren't truly IT and are instead a quasi-business organization. But the reality on the ground is that IT is never able to manage business processes in the way that the owner/expert should. Problems arise, though, in the following ways:

    - Heavy automation exercises where business abdicates responsibility to IT
    - Lack of end-user access to business process management tools (too common)
    - Expert tools are used by specialists only and not by all process stakeholders (also way too common)
    - Language of BPM has a high barrier to widespread use (you know who you are, BPMN)

    There are too many case studies of business managing its ow processes for anyone to say they can't.

  • Short answer: yes.

    Longer answer:

    Of course they're capable of managing their own processes. The extent to which they are capable however is evinced in the financial performance, and ultimately the longevity of the corporation.

    Occasionally, an organization may need external help to "see the forest for the trees." In that case they're seeking help in improving their process management capability. There are business reasons to have a third party come in do more than help you "See" the forest though.

  • If a business is not capable of managing its own processes it shouldn't be in business. I assume this means if business departments are capable of managing their own processes without the support of IT.

    That question provides a lot of ambiguity. What does managing your processes entail? Designing, modifying, adapting. or even optimizing?

    The answer is yes: the business can manage its own processes given the right set of tools. But it managing shouldn't mean just documenting. Process is about achieving business goals and fulfilling customer expectations through outcomes. Flowcharts don't ensure that.

    The solution is not to give the business some tools to do process flowcharts but to give the business the opportunity to actually execute the processes in real-time.

  • I believe most businesses are capable managing their own processes. However i would argue that they are not capable day 1. There is a necessity for training, mentoring and maturing. They will need help often times from outside the organization to get started. They will need to have the benefit of the experience that others have derived from other implementations, process and technology experts if you will.

  • Yes. The business has been managing their own processes for centuries. They have been evolving and optimizing those processes too: long before we came along.

    If the question is can the business manage their own automated processes: the answer may be "yes" or "no".

    But the real question is should they? And to that there should be an unequivocal "yes!"

    And this is where vendors really have to step up. There are too many of the current generation of automation tools that require expensive programmers to write proprietary code. This forces automation to be an IT function. Most every IT department is overloaded with demand.

    The leading automation tools have fully graphical interfaces, in the language of business and embed the disciplines of change control out-of-the-box.

    Today's executives are used to seeing Visio diagrams, are Excel mavens and live in the social media maelstrom. They are tech savvy and process centric. They have had a decade (or more) optimizing their business to the ruthlessly reduce and rethink.

    Empower the business. Enable the business. Do it today.

  • I think it's mission-critical for the business side of the house to manage their own processes. I have been out of the BPM/app development/enterprise integration world for a few years, and have just recently returned. I find it quite surprising that, in many ways, the same old IT-vs-business arguments are still in progress. From that perspective, what hasn't changed much is IT's desire for architectural control (which often results in long, complex projects), and the business executives urgent need for a solution that can be built and implemented quickly. The business executive needs solutions that simplify and accelerate the business process in order to answer new regulations, market changes and achieve more efficiency in a tough economy. The business world seems to be moving faster and faster. Meanwhile, IT's BPM and integration projects still take many months, or even years. From my perspective, the IT-vs-business debate is just so last millennium.

  • Yes, a business is definitely capable of managing their own processes. After all, they have the subject matter experts who are the most knowledgeable about their own processes. With the right business process management tool, process owners can design, deploy and maintain their own solutions. If IT is needed to develop the solutions, these internal process projects are prioritized low so it's difficult to get dedicated resources. Not to mention the time and effort involved in attempting to document and translate requirements in the development process. A business process management solution that puts the process owners in full control of managing their process ensures businesses can adapt and evolve quickly to meet ever-changing demands.

  • Well, as a former CIO, I've often wondered the same thing.

    The question I think you may have intended, though, is along the lines of: can business be trusted to use BPM (and related technologies) without adult supervision?

    I'd say: almost. Zero programming BPM solutions represent a giant step towards the goal of returning control to the business. I know of business units deploying BPM today without any support from (or even disclosure to!) their IT organizations. In fact, that's sometimes the greatest attraction of a cloud-based solution: the ability to leave IT out of the equation altogether, for better or worse.

    I'm not one of those who believe that the purpose of IT is simply to find ways to make business processes faster, or easier, or higher capacity, or more efficient. IT should be a strategic partner in the business, helping conceive of entirely new IT-driven products and gain access to IT-enabled marketplaces. The more that CIOs can render unto the business what belongs to the business—namely, business processes—the more they will be able to redirect their focus from the mundane to the revolutionary.

  • Any business in business is capable of managing its own processes. There is not a business around today that is not managing its own processes.

    The question is really about how good is the business at managing those processes. The top performers manage them well and the bottom performers manage them poorly. For the most part, businesses are a mix of well and poorly managed processes -- and we all hope we are working for businesses where "well" outweighs the "poor". Managing any business effectively requires the right mix of people, technology, and process.

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