Monday, January 20, 2014

Is Better Best or is Best Better

When processes and applications were handcrafted or configured, the end game was to create a best practice and tweak it over time to bolt down a true best practice. While the best practice could evolve over time, it stayed relatively stable. ERP is an example of these kinds of efforts. Because of the rate of change and the increase of unstructured knowledge work, a new approach to creating a multitude of evolving better practice patterns is also emerging. This is putting a spotlight on emergent better practices.

The Case for Best Practices:

Where decisions and actions are stable, best practices make a lot of sense. This way a standard process can be established for further optimization. For problem domains that are known and rarely change, best practices make great sense. This is where packaged and hand crafted applications make sense. Once implemented, optimization leveraging methods such as Six Sigma and process improvement make a lot of sense. Polishing the jewels of best practices is a great way to cut costs and raise revenue. One could argue that if this kind of processing or applications is that stable and non-differentiating, maybe it should be outsourced to more cost effective vendor than preforming it internally. Many organizations are aimed at keeping this approach going.

The Case for Better Practices:
Well as processes and systems reach for more knowledge intensive arenas, the need for a new approach becomes necessary.  Much of this kind of work requires collaboration and the sequence of actions are not the same every time. In fact sometimes there may not be exact duplicate of action sequences ever. This is often referred to as “case management” or “adaptive case management”. Where there are not best practices, accumulation of multiple success patterns to choose as a starting point makes more sense. This is called better practices. There may be several ways to approach desired outcomes based on studying successful patterns. This is where process or action mining comes into play. Better practice approaches are common in collaboration and social interactions where knowledge and wisdom is need to be applied to a case.

Finding the Balance:
There is no one approach that will work for all of your work streams. In fact as work evolves, there will be a need for both approaches. Emergent better practices can also evolve into best practice over time. Know when to leverage each approach and in combination will be the challenge for the business process director as well the process manager. Building skills and methods for creating both kinds of practices will be a key to process success.
Net; Net:
There are pockets of best practice bigots and pockets of emergent better practice bigots. We truly need both and these folks need to get along for process success. Yes Cats and Dogs can get along.


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