Avoid creating more Corporate Debris

It would probably not take you long to look through the records of any organisation and find some items, probably lots of items, that are Corporate Debris.

There are two types of debris left behind by projects, specifically by Process Projects;

  1. Process models, descriptions, requirements, design, strategy and good intention that have never been utilised, and
  2. Previous versions of the above artefacts that have been replaced or updated; however the original versions are still being used or are accessible within the organisation.

I have seen too many examples of enthusiastic projects that have created a new process, procedure or strategy that has not been adopted or sustained in the business after the project has been completed. I had one experience where I was shown a department’s “Process Library”. It was sitting in a series of well presented folders in a small cupboard in the Directors office – that’s as far as the project had got to real change.

The best case scenario is that a lot of money is wasted as the project has clearly not achieved it’s outcomes; however the more common worst case is that the opportunity lost is followed up by disappointment and scepticism that a process project can never be successful.

The end users are often victims of corporate debris as they find various versions of “the truth” in knowledge libraries and they struggle with which processes or work instructions they are meant to be following. If there is a renewed attempt to improve the process, they will often start from step one because no-one is sure which of the previous versions of analysis to use and just how correct were they?

At the 2009 Process Days conference I sat on a panel that discussed the value of Process Modelling. My contribution was to state that process modelling was only valuable if creating the models generated share understanding and the result was actually going to be used. I asked for our process models to be living.

I wish I had found this George Box quote last year, “All models are wrong, some are useful”.

How to build “living process models”

There are a number of simple Information Management principles that should be applied to organisational information like;

  • Recognise corporate information and manage it’s lifecycle – Creation to Removal
  • Be ruthless – Just because it is stored electronically, it doesn’t mean you can ignore it!
  • If it is important corporate information – hold someone accountable for managing it!

    There is much more that goes into an Information Management strategy; however that’s another Business Process for another article!

    A living process model is a representation of your Business Process that is constantly referred to and updated by the people who are living and breathing the process. If I ask anyone who is involved in the process what documentation are they using to guide their work; I should always be pointed to an artefact that is linked to the current Business Process model.

    Keeping Process Models up-to-date is often an issue. The workers are not going to maintain the process information if an update involves a 12-week review cycle. Imagine a world where the living process can be updated within 1 day, with 1 reviewer!

    There are 2 keys things that are needed to achieve living processes;

    1. A process modelling platform that allows you to publish the current process diagrams to everyone, with all of the relevant information relating to actually doing the process activities, and a process to keep it up to date.
    2. Adopting enterprise processes to design, share, improve, measure and be responsible for all living business processes.

    It sounds easy? What would you need to do to bring your business processes to life?

    Have you found the Problem?

    On one side of my world is the process management brick-wall, the other side is the chasm of process theory. Criss-crossing the terrain are the fast flowing reality rivers. This is often what it feels like when I am trying to get buy-in for developing a Business Process Management program.

    Why is selling BPM so difficult?

    Over the past few years, nearly every BPM conference, user group or meeting of the Australian BPM Roundtable has had a session about executive buy-in, selling BPM or simply, Why don’t they get it?

    At the February Australian BPM Roundtable, Andrew Spanyi gave an interesting presentation on Leading Process Change (registration is required to access the BPM Collaboration.com site). One of Andrew’s rare practices for leaders is to have A Compelling Case for Change. Too often BPM is interesting but not compelling.

    What is often compelling to leaders is single-points of process improvement; I cannot change the organisation – but I can fix the process in front of me. Andrew covers this in his summary, “No one single successful process improvement, innovation or transformation effort is likely to convey lasting competitive advantage; Process Management across the enterprise does!”

    Therefore, there needs to be a compelling reason to do Process Management at the enterprise level – which may be much easier to find in a struggling organisation than in one that is already successful. So what are some of the common problems the may be compelling?

    1. A desire to create “one” organisation – when it is recognised that silos of operations are dysfunctional and there is a desire to create consistent processes across the organisation.
    2. Reducing costs – when there is a need for far cheaper processes.
    3. Improving customer value – often after a poor customer satisfaction survey identifies the need to vastly improve the service and value being delivered to customers.
    4. Poor financial or sales performance – a need to adopt a different approach to save the company!
    5. Increasing visibility – executives want increased visibility of the performance of the organisation, usually coming from a renewed strategic approach.
    6. Fad – a desire to implement process management or a process management system to be adopting an architectural or business approach that is thought to be desirable.

    This was just a short list off of the top of my head. I want to explore this further at the Australian Process Days conference “birds of a feather” sessions; please add a comment; sharing problems that we an discuss at the conference session.

    Finding the Business Problem

    One approach to finding the business problem is to use an analysis tool to understand where your organisation is and where do they want to be, in relation to Business Process Management. The measured desire for change can represent the problem to be solved.

    One way to determine the desire for change is to conduct an audit (survey) of key stakeholders and use the information to develop a process model, where is process management in the organisation today (as-is) and where do we want to be (to-be), what are the requirements (KPI’s) and what change is needed to get us there (the process project).

    This can be done using an existing BPM Maturity Model, which is not an area I have had much experience in; however my initial experience has been that finding and adopting a suitable tool is not easy; either to find or to use. What’s your experience?

    Process Days are here again…

    I feel like singing, my favourite BPM conference is coming up in July and the event looks great!

    Leonardo Consulting Process Days is on in Sydney from July 26 to July 29. It is at the Masonic Centre; which was a great venue last year.

    You will find an overview of the program on the Process Days website. I am really looking forward to seeing Alec Sharp in person and to hear presentations from our peers across industries. The Global Discussion Panel will definitely be worth while.

    Process Idol is going to be interesting. Anyone want to warm up your signing voices and join me for some fun?

    The website is now open for registrations, please let me know if you are attending as the real value is the catch up and discussion between sessions!

    p.s. Have a close look on the website and see if you can find me?

    Process Days Conference Program available

    Get Set!  The program for Leonardo Process Days 2009, August 3-6, in Sydney Australia, has been released. Check it out!

    I am really looking forward to this conference and I would love to share a drink and a story with you. You can register now on the Leonardo website. Let me know if you are going; as I would like to share our thoughts and expectations leading up to, and after the event.

    Are you going?  Add a comment to let me know what you would like to get out of the conference or why you may not be attending this year?