Posts Tagged ‘business process’

Interaction is key for BPM and web 2.0

Posted in Business Process Consulting, Communicate / Collaborate, Practice Areas on December 11th, 2009 by Stephanie Chung – Be the first to comment

As a passionate practitioner of BPM and web 2.0, the question is whether both worlds can interact. It was good to see that a discussion has been started regarding “Will new social capabilities drive the next wave of BPM adoption or is social not a good fit for BPM?”

In my view, the social capabilities of web 2.0 are not the driver for BPM adoption. Rather, it is how they are implemented that makes them an enabler of BPM adoption. If we implement web 2.0 the right way, then it is a great fit for BPM!

I harp on about process understanding, not re-engineering, and a critical part of that is opening the doors of communication and honesty. For instance, what has been the impact to the people of a process change implemented? Via web 2.0 tools, you can easily gather the feedback on the fly. And how about the key concept of getting buy in from the people involved? Have the workshops and the face-to-face interviews to start with, and then enable further dialogue through blogs.

It comes down to our belief that it is not about the tool, it is about the behaviour. Business process at the end of the day is about finding out what someone’s behaviour is on a day to day basis in their work (what do they do and why do they do it). web services Successful Enterprise 2.0 is determining how to guide people’s behaviour to get the most out of the knowledge captured, and to nurture the collaborative nature of our interactions. So really it comes as no surprise that BPM and Web 2.0 can work as two peas in a pod!

Sharing process knowledge

Posted in Business Process Consulting, Practice Areas on September 24th, 2009 by Stephanie Chung – Be the first to comment

We believe in the continuous learning cycle and for us, a big part of that is sharing the learnings in an open forum. Every month, we hold lunch sessions to provide snippets into what we know that others may not. This month it was my opportunity, and we generated the dialogue around business process management.

This presentation is an introduction to basic BPM – the tools and techniques we use in business process modeling projects.

Our clients find the process and outcomes from BPM provide a solid, focused foundation for projects and organisational change.

Process re-engineering or process understanding?

Posted in Business Process Consulting on August 21st, 2009 by Stephanie Chung – Be the first to comment

Throw the word ‘process re-engineering’ to an organisation, and you may scare people. It might be because they don’t know what’s involved, or it might actually be because they have had experience, and think you mean large scale change.

I don’t think process re-engineering needs to be that dramatic. Certainly my experience of it is not so dramatic. The end goal is not looking at the processes to necessarily always bring about change. In most cases you are leading people to discover the issues themselves, just through discussing what they do and what the hand off points are. You are aiming for the ‘ahh ha’ moment, not the ‘argh’ moment!

I undertake process re-engineering on the basis of wanting to understand the day to day basis of a business, rather than going straight to the issues and resulting solution. The starting point is recording the deep dive into your business processes. What is ingrained in the business that is never talked about or formally documented? Detail every single step and pass off point, who is involved and what parts are automated and manual. Documenting it opens up the ability to see where elements are double handled and areas that are manual that don’t need to be. More importantly, people often learn things about their role that they had not thought about before or had taken for granted.

In our most recent experience, it took us a few days to walk around all the different departments of a company and ask them what they did, who they interact with, and how they did their job. The output of this was a depth of analysis and insight into the organisation that even upper management acknowledged. It provided a platform for investment decisions and new project initiatives.

I have done this for operational processes, logistics handling, and as a basis for application development projects. In all cases, you interact with the people who are the touch points of the detailed end to end process, focusing on the who, what and how. You also can’t just look at one section or department, because there is much to be found in what happens in hand-offs between departments. The assumptions that are made often don’t enable an understanding of how everyone’s roles link together in the business.

The end goal is a focus on the business structure and processes that may have become blurred. A key benefit is the foundation created for improvement, as well as the active knowledge management from documenting and retaining process knowledge that commonly sits in people’s minds.

Business vs IT

Posted in Business Process Consulting, Practice Areas on July 27th, 2009 by Jason Edlin – Be the first to comment

How often do you hear that in an enterprise? I have worked in a number of businesses and often hear the words from the business such as “IT doesn’t understand what I want” “This system does not do what we asked for” and from IT “We have given the business what they asked for” “Why can’t the business tell us what they want better?”

At best this promotes a divide between the two most important areas of a company, at worst it can cost substantial money to rectify and vastly impact customer satisfaction.

How can you get around this without beating everybody with a big stick? Use business process modelling (BPM) to represent or design processes.

BPM, when applied effectively, enables a smooth transition from the interface with the customer through to the design of systems and methods to support that interface. At the end of the day it is all about the customer and a business should be designed with that in mind.

Business process modelling can take the companies core values, strategy and objectives and distill these into progressively lower levels of process that can be easily understood by business representatives facing the customer, operations personal supporting the business representatives and of course IT providing the systems that support both. All staff can understand how a process works and what the inputs, outputs and interfaces are with that process. An effectively modelled process can enable IT to better understand a business’s requirements and build a more focused system.

Modelling a fair representation of a business process is not always easy but then neither is running the business itself. The last thing you need is for a ‘disconnect’ to exist between key departments. I have found that while often effective models can be built by interviewing key personnel in the business and passing these down to IT in an appropriate language, often a better way is to workshop a process with representatives of business, operational and IT areas. This enables all areas to make their contributions from their point of view but most of all, the group gains a much better understanding of each others objectives and difficulties. The same argument applies to developing models between divergent business departments.

Give it a go. You will be surprised at how effective it can be at breaking down barriers and if you need help, of course give us a call!

Modelling tools

Posted in Business Process Consulting on July 10th, 2009 by Jason Edlin – Be the first to comment

The previous blog looked at why you would model but how do you choose or even find an appropriate modelling tool. In this short blog I do not propose to promote one modelling tool over another or even give a listing of all available tools. I am pretty certain if I tried to do that this blog would become the size of the local library! Besides others already do a better, and far more admirable, job of that than I ever can. What I can do is point you towards a few options that exist and where to find more information.

The range of Business Process Modelling tools is vast and as varied as the possible applications that they can be used for. Some are focused on pure business process and some more attuned to IT functionality. As the old adage says, “Different horses for different courses”. Tool selection depends firstly on what you want to do and secondly on the amount you are prepared to spend. Prices can vary from free to a million dollars or more! Ouch!

In general cost is proportionate to capability. If it is your desire to only produce basic models on how your business functions then costs for that level of software would be significantly lower. If, on the other hand, you want to have models that allow you to simulate or record business processes in real time and produce a current and active dashboard of your business in real time, expect to pay a bit more.

What suits a smaller company with a turnover of less than a million dollars a year is going to be vastly different from the big corporate that turns over in excess of $200M per year. Luckily BPM tool vendors provide tools for all markets and requirements.

For some smaller businesses, and sometimes even larger ones, all that is required is MS Excel or MS PowerPoint. For something a little more complex MS Visio is more than adequate.

A further aspect to consider is that if the models are to be used to develop systems and/or workflow in IT then it would be handy for the tool to have Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) language capability.

To find out about some of the options just look up BPM tools on the internet. Ooops, lots isn’t there?

Don’t despair. The internet is a great way for finding details on any number of tools but would obviously be time consuming. There is a couple of better ways:

  1. Look up Gartner or Forrester Groups on the internet. Both of these companies have already done the hard work and produce overviews on the most of the up to date tools available each year and where they sit in relation to each other. See or
  2. The second, and by far the easiest, is to ask a BPM consultant. They might not be across all available systems in the world but they will most certainly be aware of what is available in your area and, most importantly, what would suit your situation. After all isn’t that what you are trying to do?

In the end it is what you are going to use the tool for that is the most important aspect of all.

I have one word of caution: If you are looking at spending good money on purchasing a BPM tool then you also need to make a commitment to maintain and update the models as necessary to keep them current with your business.

Process modelling vs process mapping

Posted in Business Process Consulting on July 10th, 2009 by Jason Edlin – Be the first to comment

So what is a modelling tool and how does it work? Why would I pay big dollars just to draw pretty pictures that I may or may not use again? Why can’t I use PowerPoint, Visio, Excel? The answer to all these questions and more comes back to one thing, “Why do you want to capture your processes?”

Most people are familiar with the term process mapping which is, in a nutshell, the sequencing of a number of tasks in a diagram to produce the end result that we call a process map. Historically this is represented by using two dimensional mapping tools such as Excel, PowerPoint or even VISIO. The resulting ’picture’ is a representation of the tasks that go to make up the process and that is all. Often the output is used briefly, if at all, and then ends up on the bottom of someone’s drawer or lost in the great black hole of documents on their hard drive. Sound familiar?

Business modeling is the sum of so much more. A common definition of modelling is:

the capture, documentation and analysis and design of the structure of business processes, their relationships with the resources needed to implement them and the environment in which they will be used”

What this means in plain English is that business process modelling (BPM) models the process tasks and their interaction with the environment (e.g. office, customer), systems (IT stuff!) and resources (e.g. people, organisations, and product)

Modelling enables the viewer to understand the relationships between different processes, data, IT systems, people and skills. It captures and aligns with business objectives, products and services and records risks and regulatory requirements. It even allows and assists IT developers to design or improve systems to better support the business.

The above is all very nice but why would I want to ‘model’ rather than ‘map’ my processes? Good point. If all a business wishes to do is to gain an overview of the tasks involved in a particular process then all you need is a mapping tool. You probably already have access to one of these if you have Microsoft or Apple software. Mapping tools are also easily downloaded from any ‘open source’ supplier on the Internet.

If, however, you really need to understand all the components, relationships and interactions of a process then you need a modelling tool.

Process modelling takes things to a much higher level. A model is a ‘living’ document. It introduces rigour and standardisation (models are based on a common methodology). It enables analysis of relationships and data and can even be used as a base for simulation and rapid process engineering. In short it enables you, or anyone else, to gain an understanding of how your business operates.

So questions you need to ask yourself if you are considering capturing your business processes:

  • Do I need an understanding of how my business operates?
  • Do my business processes align with my business strategy and key performance objectives?
  • Are my processes aligned to and support outcomes to my customers?
  • Are my systems working effectively to support my business?
  • Is my business complex and/or operating in a complex environment?
  • Do I have enough/too many staff to carry out the day to day running of my business?
  • Are my staff often involved in ‘workarounds’ or frequently fixing errors?

If you answered yes to any, or a number, of the above then it is worth looking at a modelling tool to support your business.