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Resourceful employees can find creative solutions when none are apparent and dream up innovative solutions when roadblocks come up. Good will remember a trick or shortcut that a former employee used years ago to enter an order that’s not taking for some reason. They’ll break an order down into component parts if necessary to process it so that the in-stock items ship immediately. Or they’ll track down missing customer or order information from an incomplete document, ensuring the customer gets what’s expected, when it’s expected.

And while applying this kind of inventive, ad-hoc creativity to business situations is a wonderful trait in employees, it has no place in an automated business process. Frankly, it’s not such a great thing when you’re trying to integrate systems and business process automation to streamline your business processes. Any company undertaking an enterprise application integration process or trying to institute business process management capabilities will most likely have to deal with these types of situations—scenarios where employees have created ad-hoc solutions to discontinuities in a business process or ambiguities in decision points. If you want to automate your business processes, you’ll need to squeeze all these ambiguities out of the business process.

For example, let’s say there’s an order in the CRM system that gets batched and sent to a different department for entry into the ERP system for fulfillment. The person entering the CRM transactions may actually be doing more than simply entering the orders—they may be filling in missing information. In effect, they are adding steps in the business process by recognizing out-of-stock items or potential problems and adjusting orders accordingly. In a sample scenario, the order entry clerk might recognize that an item is out-of-stock and make the adjustment, or they might know they can obtain the needed item from a different warehouse or under a different part number. Most business processes have some amount of this manual, human intervention.

If an organization simply automates the process in a well-defined manner without accounting adequately for these ad-hoc “business rules”, there may be a significant change in the quality or consistency of the outcome of the process. For instance, instead of having 97% of orders fulfilled in 12 hours, that figure coulddrop to 82% since all the exceptions or discontinuities that the order entry person might adjust for will be rejected instead of accepted. For example, you might end up telling customers you are out of stock in an item, when in reality it’s simply in another warehouse or listed in an unexpected way.


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