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Editor’s Note: In this two-part package, veteran BPM professional Artie Mahal breaks down a business process, piece by piece. In a companion piece, Mahal—author of “Business Process Management, Basics and Beyond” (Technics Publications LLC, 2010)—defined two key components, inputs and outputs. Here, he tackles two other critical elements and offers some final takeaways.

GUIDES



Guides manage and control the transformation of inputs to their planned outputs. Unlike inputs, which are consumed or transformed by the process, guides are only referenced, not consumed. Guides may be provided by management business processes or stakeholders, both internal and/or external to the organization. They can be classified into three categories:

  • STRATEGIES AND GOVERNANCE. These provide governance and guidelines to ensure that the day-to-day execution of the process-in-focus is aligned with organizational goals and objectives. The guidelines may include budget, measures of performance and process ownership and managerial accountabilities.
  • POLICY AND RULES. These include business rules, practices, procedures and compliance constraints that guide the execution of process steps with pre-established parameters for success and ensure mitigation of risk. They provide criteria for decision points within the process execution (the comprehensive discussion of business rules is outside the scope here). In an online book-ordering process, the allowable customer credit limit and a customer's approval would be a business rule, while sales tax charges would be compliance control.
  • INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE. Knowledge includes internal and external information that may be used to optimize the success of the process based on past experiences. This also includes training materials for skills needed by the process performers who are the enablers of the process. In an online book-ordering process, knowledge includes customer preferences and employee training material for handling the fulfill-orders process.

(Note: Guides are typically provided by the management processes of a business-process blueprint, discussed in another chapter of "How Work Gets Done.")

ENABLERS

Enablers are the reusable resources of an organization that are engaged to support the process-in-focus. If the guides are sometimes referred to as the rules, the enablers are the tools. Enablers can also be classified into three categories:

  • HUMAN CAPITAL (ORGANIZATIONAL ROLES). Roles represent the jobs or positions assigned to execute a process. This is the critical people-process link. The skills and competencies required to execute the process are used to define role profiles which, in turn, become job descriptions. Employees are assessed based on their performance measures aligned to these roles. To develop their capability, employees are trained based on the competencies required by the processes. This is the human-capital asset of an organization. This area is often referred to as "people training," but it must be understood that this is more comprehensive than just training. Defining roles is an organizational design (OD) consideration and therefore needs the assistance of OD specialists (generally from within the human resources function).
  • ENABLING TECHNOLOGY. "Technology" is a broad term covering a variety of mechanisms that provide technical support to processes. This includes business application systems, data stores, IT tools and platforms, production lines and general tools. For IT systems, Systems Development Life Cycle methodology (SDLC) is a professional practice and IT professionals are the resources who provide this enabler. Technology is a reusable asset.
  • SUPPORTING INFRASTRUCTURE. The term "infrastructure" covers a variety of platforms and foundations on which process enablers function. For people, infrastructure includes work space, buildings and energy. For systems, it includes hardware, software, and communications platforms. These are generally fixed assets.

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