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Growing up, I believe that I was lucky. At least when it came to the definition of process role models (“parents”) and the expected results for the maturing of the process they referred to as their “son.” In short, the expectations and examples that my parents laid out for me were pretty darn close to what they did themselves—at least in terms of behavior, responsibility, and social expectations.

Of course, as with any teenager, there were occasional “gaps” between where I was and where they wanted the “process” to be, Looking back however, I’d like to think that any gaps were more the result of evolutionary processes trying out new alternatives (or perhaps just a strong adolescent need for individuality), rather than my inability to execute a desired process. In any case, most people seem to think the results of my process improvement during those adolescent years turned out well enough (or perhaps a good as could be expected, I guess) so that there’s still some hope of not being cut out of my share of the inheritance.

Looking back, I realize that I was lucky because I couldn’t apply the maxim that so often gets applied in both business and personal situations---“Do as I say, not as I do.” My parents—with few rare exceptions, as far as I can tell—were not only able to tell my brother, my sister and me what was right, but they were also able to consistently do the right thing, across a wide variety of circumstances. What they said was what they did. In effect, there was really no gap between what was stated as family policy and what was actually put into practice.

Unfortunately, there are far too many companies, managers and business processes where such fidelity between stated policies and actual processes doesn’t exist. As we explored in the last column, many organizations face an execution gap—the difference between what their stated policies are, and what’s actually implemented. And as business becomes more competitive, as regulations become more restrictive, and as CEOs and shareholders push for greater returns, the need to ensure that corporate decisions and practices are not only being promulgated across the company, but that they’re also being implemented.

It’s not an easy thing to do, especially for large companies with thousands of employees. To understand way, let’s take a closer look at one example of business policies flow through an organization. Let’s take a large bank whose key objective is to deepen customer relationship and sell its existing customers more products and services. Such a high-level policy and corporate direction would typically be defined and stated by the CEO or other C-level executive. Then, at each level of the executive ranks, that broader policy is refined and filtered into policies, decisions, rules, or processes related to functionally specific tasks. For example, at a management level that broad policy of deepening relationships with customers might come into play when a customer calls the call center and notes that they’ve been charged for a late payment on an account and would like a rebate of the late fee paid. While the company probably makes money by collecting late fees, a well-organized company with efficient processes and implementation of executive policies would be able to rebate the fee and attempt to upsell the customer, based on their existing relationships, into appropriate additional services. Or, the company can attempt to collect the late fee and risk the customer relationship and lose the opportunity to upsell. In order to be effective, a broad, macro-level policy needs to find its way down into the 1,000s or 10,000s of decisions made by hundreds or thousands of employees each day. Keep in mind that this can be applied to both internal and external policies, as well.

The challenge for most organizations is how to reduce or eliminate those execution gaps, and that’s where business process management and business rules management systems come into play. In the next column, I’ll explore how these types of solutions can be used to automate decisions and processes so that top-level policies and directives are effectively and efficiently promulgated throughout an organization.

About the Author

David Kelly - With twenty years at the cutting edge of enterprise infrastructure, David A. Kelly is ebizQ's Community Manager for Optimizing Business/IT Management. This category includes IT governance, SOA governance,and compliance, risk management, ITIL, business service management,registries and more.

As Community Manager, David will blog and podcast to keep the ebizQ community fully informed on all the important news and breakthroughs relevant to enterprise governance. David will also be responsible for publishing press releases, taking briefings, and overseeing vendor submitted feature articles to run on ebizQ. In addition, each week, David will compile the week's most important news and views in a newsletter emailed out to ebizQ's ever-growing Governance community. David Kelly is ideally suited to be ebizQ's Governing the Infrastructure Community Manager as he has been involved with application development, project management, and product development for over twenty years. As a technology and business analyst, David has been researching, writing and speaking on governance-related topics for over a decade.

David is an expert in Web services, application development, and enterprise infrastructures. As the former Senior VP of Analyst Services at Hurwitz Group, he has extensive experience in translating the implications of new application development, deployment, and management technologies into practical recommendations for enterprise customers. He's written articles for Computerworld, Software Magazine, the New York Times, and other publications, and spoken at conferences such as Comdex, Software Development, and Internet World. With expertise ranging from application development to enterprise management to integration/B2B services to IP networking and VPNs, Kelly can help companies profit from the diversity of a changing technology landscape.

More by David A. Kelly

About ebizQ

ebizQ is the insider’s guide to next-generation business process management. We offer a growing collection of independent editorial articles on BPM trends, issues, challenges and solutions, all targeted to business and IT BPM professionals.

We cover BPM standards, governance, technology and continuous process improvement, as well as process discovery, modeling, simulation and optimization, among many other areas. We follow case management, decision management, business rules management, operational intelligence, complex event processing and other related topics. We closely track important trends such as the rise of social BPM, mobile BPM and BPM in the cloud. We also explore BPM’s use in functional areas, such as supply chain and customer management, and in key verticals, such as financial services, health care, insurance and government.

ebizQ's other BPM-oriented content includes podcasts, webcasts, webinars, white papers, a variety of expert blogs, a lively online forum and much more.



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