Get a competitive edge with unstructured process management
by Jonathan Sapir, on
The BPM tools on the market today provide solutions to business people, but are not designed for business people to actually use to solve their problems. BPM is no help with unstructured processes. Nor is classic project management. That too, relies on the ability to plan an outcome. We need a different approach.
-Ian James, The Process Consultant
Looking to gain a competitive edge? Work Relay is here to help with unstructured process management.
Most organizations have spent years automating their business processes with BPM, which means they have already gotten most of the benefits available in this area. Unfortunately, a clear majority of the business processes in your company are probably unstructured, yet these are the hardest to automate with BPM software.
Rote work seldom creates value. Any task that can be reduced to a predictable set of steps can often be done by machine, delegated to less-skilled workers, or outsourced to a lower-cost region.
What is needed now is to tackle processes that can’t easily be mapped, streamlined or automated. Any process that calls for knowledge and judgment is vital to creating competitive advantage. This is the space in which knowledge workers thrive and where real value can be achieved.
As succinctly described by Ian James:
These “unstructured” processes are less like an assembly line and are more like a pinball machine, where a transaction bounces from person to person in an unpredictable path with an uncertain outcome. Imagine how difficult it would be to predict and control the path of every ball that falls through a pinball machine. Yet this is what BPM software tries to do.
An unstructured process has many branches, calls for flexible routing, and generates variable results. An unstructured process depends on the knowledge, judgment and creativity of employees; that makes it difficult to automate. An unstructured process is seldom repeated, or else repeated with different paths and outcomes. A lot of information is required and generated along the way. For best results, employees must see the big picture and understand the roles, responsibilities, priorities, and deadlines of themselves and others.
These are the processes that truly add value and are worth investing in. Improving unstructured processes can yield tangible benefits such as lower costs, better quality, and higher employee satisfaction.
Why hire people for their judgment and creativity, train them extensively, and then constrain them in processes that leave no room for initiative? Unfortunately, this is precisely what BPM does when applied to an unstructured process management.BPM software was designed for yesterday’s assembly lines, not today’s knowledge-based economy. Most high-value business processes handled by office workers are not easy to map, streamline, or automate. Many creative knowledge workers instinctively resist any attempt to impose BPM software.