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It's important for businesses to be able to handle process exceptions efficiently and effectively. There's been a lot of talk in market about business process management and process-driven integration and other approaches to automating and managing business processes. But regardless of the types of technologies that are available or how people are automating processes, there will always be situations where process exceptions will occur.

Even companies that have successfully automated their business processes can find the goal of painless straight-though processing blocked when incomplete, inconsistent or incorrect data causes many transactions to be manually resolved.

The immediate impact of process exceptions can be anything from delays to costs to errors. For example, a process exception that gets kicked out for manual resolution may have to wait minutes, hours or days until it's addressed or while staff collects the necessary information to manually resolve an issue. Needless to say, exceptions are more expensive to process and both manual intervention and infrequently used exception processes can lead to mistakes or errors.

The strategic impact of process exceptions can be much greater on business. Let's look at the some of the longer-term impacts that process exceptions can have on a business or organization:

  • Lower operational efficiency
  • Can have long term impact by affecting partner or customer relationships
  • Can often have a direct revenue impact (such as a smaller number of orders being processed
  • Can make it more difficult to improve processes and increase overall corporate efficiency
  • Can lengthen order-to-cash cycles

So, what's an organization to do when confronted with the issue of business process exceptions? For many organizations, the starting point is to integration the core business processes—hence some of the interest in business process management and enterprise integration, as we explored a few columns ago. It is important for problem-free transactions to be handled quickly and efficiently whenever possible. This typically involves the integration of separate applications or the adoption of broad-scoped enterprise applications. However, as I stated then, business process management and integration itself doesnŐt always directly address an organization's needs when it comes to exception management.


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