Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Two Faces of Business Process Discovery

Organizations are represented by their processes that engage customers, employees, partners, stakeholders and the community they operate in on a regular basis. These processes represent the organizations face to each of these constituents. Processes have proven to help organizations operate efficiently at a lower cost, raise revenue in competitive markets and deliver innovation with the collaboration business visionaries. Needless to say processes and the cases they operate on have a great contribution to desirable organizational outcomes. It is important to understand your current processes, at a minimum, to make sure they optimize results. At a maximum, target processes plus transitional plans to get to the target processes for differentiating organizations should be mapped with along with incremental improvements along the way. This is why business process discovery is so important. The confusing part about process discovery is that, today there are two kinds of process discovery. Like the Roman God Janus, there are two faces to it.

Process Discovery; Modeling a New Design:

When trying to create better operations and better flows to support those operations, much vision must be exchanged. Process flows have to created and updated. Some organizations like to start with a blank sheet of paper and throw business visionaries at the task to create innovative operations. Others take a core process and expand and tweak it to create an incremental improvement for better operations. In either case the sharing of the core innovation or core process far and wide helps deliver a better result overall. Process discovery through modeling and analysis helps here as many individuals can be economically added to the collaboration pool in creating the new flows. This discipline of sharing the core idea or flow and all the additions over time help the acceptance of the new and changed processes. BPA technologies add significant value to the definitional efforts. 

Process Discovery; Mapping Reality:

Quite often organizations think they understand their existing flows because everybody knows their own job well and feels that others should as well. In reality, when a combined process flow is created from real life measurements, acquired by instrumentation probes,  across job roles, organizational boundaries and even outside the base organization, the process map tends to point out problems that only appear when you put the big picture together. There ends up being significant benefit to creating a current flow usually revolving around removing unnecessary or old task steps. Quite often, role and goal conflicts can be discussed and resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. These benefits usually come from removing unnecessary work and the benefits can be quite large in large scoped end to end processes such as supply chains and value chains. Over short period of time process discovery proves that you must inspect better to manage better.  

Net; Net:

Over time these distinct approaches will be used together in process efforts thereby driving the need for process vendors to bring the separate technologies together. Right now they are different technology stove pipes for the most part. Process modeling by hand leveraging business process modeling tools and automated business process discovery tools. 

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