If about everything top-down fragilizes and blocks antifragility and growth, everything bottom-up thrives under the right amount of stress and disorder.
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragility
A fast food company needs to implement a new point-of-sale system in all of their 6,000+ stores. So starts process vs project management.
The solution needs to coordinate hundreds of franchises, thousands of stores, and a multitude of collaborating participants to successfully complete each implementation of process vs project management.
The number of tasks to be scheduled and tracked is extensive, from coordinating multiple vendors and contractors, ordering and shipping equipment, training employees and integrating the help desk. Some tasks can occur in parallel, while other tasks are interrelated and need to follow a specific sequence. All tasks are deadline-related, and if one step gets held up, it puts all other steps in the process on hold – even those steps that could be completed independently of the currently stalled step.
The management of the point-of-sale integration project started out as a single spreadsheet and rapidly grew into a hodgepodge of many interrelated spreadsheets that were emailed around for data entry, cut-and-pasted, manually consolidated, and otherwise used well beyond the intended capabilities. It included:
The requirement was to streamline the reaction of the organization to incidents on an oilrig utilizing mobile, social and cloud technology.
reporting an incident on a mobile device using a wizard pertaining to the type of incident that occurred;
taking photos and videos and automatically uploading them with the report;
depending on the type of incident, automatically notifying the appropriate people;
recording of actions taken;
triggering appropriate workflows;
creating and assigning tasks;
automatically generating the appropriate government forms;
providing appropriate first aid instructions;
taking into account the personal health records of the individuals being treated; and
providing details of impending weather conditions that may impact incident recovery.
The solution also needed to:
The citizen developer sits on the front lines of experimentation and business innovation. The innovation sought is not solely big-bang innovation, but all types of innovation that happen within the flow of business execution.
– Mike Rollings (Gartner), Citizen Development: Reinventing the Shadows of IT
The last decade has seen an ever-growing demand for additional applications to respond to the ever-changing needs of individuals and communities. While the net number of users for these applications may be lower, the importance of the information, and the role of these individuals as innovators and change agents in the enterprise, has placed greater pressure on IT and procurement departments to source an ever increasing range of business applications. This demand by smaller numbers of users for higher numbers of applications has become known as the ‘Long-Tail’. In a period when businesses are trying to cut purchase and support costs for IT by reducing numbers of applications, these demands are particularly unhelpful.
The concept of the “long tail” originates from an article by Chris Anderson in Wired Magazine in which he described the niche strategy of certain businesses such as Amazon.com or Netflix. The Long Tail is the 80% of stuff that didn’t used to be worth selling, but now is worth selling because the technology is there to make it profitable.
Applying that concept to applications results in a graph (see below) that shows strategic applications at the top with a long tail at the bottom consisting of situational processs. The level of customization required for the IT department to build small applications for individuals made those applications far too expensive and labor intensive.
The characteristics of long tail software are quite different from traditional software.
Cloud computing makes it possible to create new “business operations platforms” that will allow companies to change their business models and collaborate in powerful new ways with their customers, suppliers and trading partners – stuff that simply could not be done before.
-Peter Fingar, Dot.Cloud: The 21st Century Business Platform
By using a single platform, applications share the same data, social network, and user security. Any application has access to any data, flow or task. Therefore, workflows and business processes can be shared among customers, departments, and external agencies, all without disruption. With everyone using the same platform, there’s no need to reproduce or copy-and-paste data into different systems depending on who is working from where.
Fragmented solutions built on multiple platforms are expensive to maintain in aggregate. Siloed applications are harder to pull into an interconnected ecosystem. Having just one platform supports the move from monolithic applications for groups of users to multiple user-centric applications built on a common platform.
The following example compares the complexity of building and maintaining applications with and without an enabling platform:
Ideas for new solutions will spring from half-baked applications created by lay users who may start down the path toward a solution, but may lack the expertise to finish it.
– Andy Mulholland, Chris S. Thomas, and Paul Kurchina, Mashup Corporations: The End of Business as Usual
Looking to bridge the Salesforce process gap?
There are going to be times when users need someone with analyst skills to help them better define a complex application. There are also going to be times when IT or third-party developers will need to be engaged to code some specific functionality for an application.
This is the role of the Salesforce process analyst.
A Salesforce process analyst helps translate a user’s requirements into terms, model the data needed to support the application, and help translate complex business logic. The situational process analyst works with IT on behalf of users to secure access to corporate data as needed, and to work with users to write specifications for custom functionality.Salesforce process gap – A bridge to IT
It is true that there often will be the need for some coding to complete a robust application. Therefore, the platform does not seek to exclude IT or code – it makes it easy for IT and business developers to work together collaboratively to reach their goals.
The Salesforce App Cloud framework ensures that users don’t hit a wall by providing a bridge to IT.
Citizen developers are here to stay and will fundamentally change the future of IT work. How you embrace them will determine the future of IT within your organization and define the role IT plays in the creation of new innovative business practices.
– Mike Rollings (Gartner), Citizen Development: Reinventing the Shadows of IT
In need of Shadow IT?
It is becoming easier than ever for a business to procure cloud-based services without IT involvement. If IT doesn’t add value, business units will simply work around it, and that would lead to a much smaller and less impactful corporate IT resource. On the other hand, by working with users to provide them with an effective way to develop and deploy solutions, IT can greatly expand its reach and enhance its value.
Salesforce App Cloud provides opportunities for IT to:
Put business solutions in the hands of the business. The more business users are empowered to build their own solution (or to at least frame them out to a point where someone else can finish it), the stronger the result will be.
Cultivate good corporate citizens. Steering citizen developers to the most supportable and upgradeable techniques—through governance—enhances the long-term value of their solutions.
Reduce IT burden. By empowering citizen developers to make their own customizations confidently without posing risk to the environment, IT becomes free to focus on more value-added projects. And, when fully engaged users ask for help, their requests are likely to be better thought out and more realistic for the benefit of the SharePoint platform.
Enhance the IT/business relationship. In many organizations, IT is increasingly viewed as overhead or a roadblock, not an enabler – hence the rise of citizen development. Through a legitimized citizen development program, IT can better understand what the business needs and wants, while giving users the freedom to build preferred solutions on their own timelines.
Clearly, it’s time for IT to dramatically extend its capabilities and reinvent itself. No longer is it enough to just meet the current needs of the business; IT needs to position itself as the enabler for continual adaptation of the corporate operating model to ongoing waves of change.
– Cognizant, The Future of Work Has Arrived: Time to Re-Focus IT
Start building process-driven applications today!
In an era when change arrives without warning and threatens to eradicate entire companies and industries overnight, organizations can survive and prosper only by engaging the minds and emotions of all employees, providing them with the right tools and encouraging them to use their initiative to adapt the organization to the changes buffeting it.
Empowering individuals and teams to take responsibility for building solutions will produce the flywheel effect – each small push, taken together over time, can have an enormous impact.
Imagine the level of innovation that can be achieved by enabling your employees, working together, to create process-driven applications that help them solve challenges or take advantage of new business opportunities. Indeed, situational process represent billions of dollars in potential productivity gains, higher customer satisfaction, new business opportunities, faster time to market and innovation.
I know coaches who spend seventeen hours planning the perfect game only to lose because the shape of the football isn’t round and they can’t control the bounce.
– BUD GRANT, COACH
Got project management pain?To understand the limitations of project management practices, we must examine the concepts and assumptions that support them. Contemporary project management is based on these assumptions – which cause project management pain:
- The natural world functions like a machine – the world is mechanistic. This is the idea of ‘the clockwork universe’.
- We can observe and rely on predictable cause-and-effect relationships – the world is deterministic. In this vein, project managers develop the project plan and know that executing it will bring about the end product. They apply this understanding to a PM Tool where the outcome of an action is predictable and repeatable and outcomes (outputs) scale in proportion to inputs (ie more effort results in a larger or quicker output). The most obvious manifestation of this idea is the‘ critical path schedule’ one key assumption in traditional CPM is that task durations change predictably based on the level of resources applied to the task.
- The future is controllable. Traditional project management material operates under the principle that all human systems are inherently mechanical in nature. Traditional thinking believes that all systems have predictable outputs based upon controlled inputs. This thinking is so embedded in Western thought that the project manager often forgets that there are significant uncontrollable factors in any given system. Project managers tend to ignore this material because it is considered either an aberration to the norm or simply a possibility so remote that it can be discounted as unimportant.
- Anything that is complex can be dissected into smaller parts and understood – the world is reductionist (i.e. the whole is equal to the sum of its parts). (WBS) The idea of ‘reductionism’; the characteristics (and behaviors) of a complicated entity can be understood by studying the characteristics of it parts. The underlying assumption being complex things can always be reduced or explained by understanding the simpler more fundamental elements from which they are assembled. Consequently, it is generally assumed the project’s goals and objectives can be decomposed and fully understood using techniques such as the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
- And finally, the world is rationalistic (as opposed to an empirical approach in which knowledge is gained through experience). Project management is a series of learnable processes and skills that could be applied to any new project regardless of the industry, enterprise, or society.